In the 90s Spot was an acronym for the Services and Products of Telecom, and also a much loved Australian Jack Russell terrier. He starred in 43 different Telecom commercials made between 1991 and 1998 — many of them on an epic scale and seemingly at risk to his life or limb. Special mention should be made of the size of the Yellow Pages shoot, apparently featuring a warehouse full of chefs, couriers and entertainers — and of Spot’s considerable arsenal of tricks from skateboard riding to orchestra conducting. Spot died in Sydney in 2000 at age 13.
Away Laughing was an early sketch comedy show from Wellington company Gibson Group. In this episode from the second series, skaters, spies, panelbeaters and Buck Shelford are the butt of jokes. Kevin Smith and Murray Keane play two Australians mocking New Zealand place names; a trio of firefighters make idiots of themselves in a classroom; ingratiating priest Phineas O'Diddle (Danny Mulheron) arrives at the pub in time to join in on Hori's birthday; and onetime Telecom promo man Gordon McLauchlan interviews two gorillas about Telecom's privatisation.
This NZ TV award-nominated documentary tells the story of radio station Mai FM. Founded in 1992 by Auckland iwi Ngāti Whātua, its mix of hip hop, r’n’b and te reo soon won ratings success. Original breakfast host Robert Rakete recalls early days when the station was a CD player hooked up to an aerial, while Mai FM's champions argue the station has executed its kaupapa: promoting Māori language and culture to the youth of Auckland, including the breakout phrase, “it’s cool to kōrero!” The introduction by Tainui Stephens was done for Māori TV's doco slot He Raranga Kōrero.
In 2000 the Employment Relations Act was passed into law in New Zealand, replacing the Employment Contracts Act. The bill proved controversial: some suggested it placed unfair obligations on employers, while others claimed it restored much-needed rights to workers that had been undermined. This Assignment episode explores both angles. Among them, business owner John Holm argues that he shouldn’t be told how to treat his employees, while union leaders and Alliance Party MP Laila Harré all argue that without the bill, workers will continue to be exploited.
In the eighth episode of this tale of family, factory and music, the Saumalus protest the sale of Murdoch Textiles and expeted loss of jobs. Indian-Kiwi student Dev (Shaan Kesha) enlists Moana in his plan to break into the boss’s office and make the workers' voices heard. Even if Dev’s blundering scheme doesn’t impress Moana, it does enable subtle marketing use of the show’s sponsorship from Telecom (now Spark) — “what’s your phone number again? 027 SHITFORBRAINS?”.
Four-part series Revolution examined radical changes in New Zealand society in the 1980s and 1990s. This final episode sums things up, after examining "the second wave" of neoliberal reform when National took power in 1990, shortly after Telecom was sold to American interests. Incoming finance minister Ruth "mother of all budgets" Richardson oversaw a reduction of welfare payments, a shake-up of the health system, and a curbing of union powers. Richardson: "in a human sense I understood that [community outrage], but that wasn't going to deflect me".
The Mainland Touch was a popular regional news magazine programme broadcast from Christchurch between 1980 until 1990. In excerpts here, Christchurch Botanic Gardens welcomes the arrival of spring with a daffodil festival while local gardening groups prepare a floral carpet. The Wizard of Christchurch battles Telecom over the colour of phone boxes and joins opponents of a proposed restaurant tower in Victoria Square. Punting on the Avon is extended, and a cockatoo hitches a ride in the garden city.
A weekly TVNZ arts series hosted by Oliver Driver, Frontseat was the longest-running arts programme of its time, aiming a broad current affairs scope at arts issues and events. In the excerpts from this episode journalist Amomai Pihama investigates Māori arts brand, Toi Iho. Winston Peters, gallery owner Katariana Hetet, and CNZ's Elizabeth Ellis are among those interviewed. In another story Driver speaks with artists and the curator of the Telecom Prospect 2004 show at Wellington's City Gallery and Adam Art Gallery.
A Moment in Time is an armchair interview with historian Michael King OBE filmed in 1991. King discusses his early influences, motivation, and distinctive publications. King died in a car accident with his wife Maria Jungowska in 2004, and his reflections in A Moment in Time are testament to the tragedy of that loss: "We've got to be able to trace our own footsteps and listen to our own voices or we'll cease to be New Zealanders, or being New Zealanders will cease to have any meaning."
MyStory was the first “mobisode” funded by NZ On Air. It tracks a group of young people in their ‘gap year’ between high school and university as they discover one of their friends has gone missing. The 40 x two-minute episodes screened on C4, and was able to be downloaded daily to 3G phones on the Vodafone network, or watched (as a weekly collection) on the C4 website on Sundays. Created by Gibson Group producer Bevin Linkhorn, the series was directed by Peter Salmon.