Ray Columbus and the Invaders were the first NZ band to have major international success when their early 60s hit 'She's A Mod' topped the charts in Australia. Though actually written by a Brit, Mod has become a much-covered Kiwi classic. The band's place in NZ music history was cemented when the single 'Till We Kissed' won the first Loxene Golden Disc Award in 1965 - but the band disbanded the same year, with Columbus going on to a successful solo career. At the Music Awards in 2009, the Invaders were inducted into the NZ Music Hall of Fame.
This 1968 Looking at New Zealand episode travels to NZ’s third-largest island: Stewart Island/Rakiura. The history of the people who've faced the “raging southerlies” ranges from Norwegian whalers to the 400-odd modern folk drawn there by a self-reliant way of life. Mod-cons (phone, TV) alleviate the isolation, and the post office, store, wharf and pub are hubs. The booming industry is crayfish and cod fishing (an old mariner wisely feeds an albatross); and the arrival of tourists to enjoy the native birds and wildness anticipates future prospects for the island.
Hosted by one-time mod Ray Columbus, That's Country was one of the highest rating shows of the early 80s. This 1982 episode features veteran Kiwi country performers (John Hore, Patsy Riggir) and trans-Tasman pop star Dinah Lee. The opening ensemble number features Canadian singer Glory-Anne Carriere and US duo the Gypsy Mountain Pickers, along with Australian Jade Hurley (who still bills himself as the King of Country Rock). Check out the rhinestone cowboys and girls as they belt out the theme song, then settle in for solo performances. Yee-ha!
Another black and white prototype music video from Ray Columbus and the Invaders. Ray and the band planned and directed this one themselves, at Peach Studios in Auckland. The song is a ballad, and it's a more restrained performance than the clip for She's a Mod, but the 1960s zoot suits and aloof rock star poses are still there. 'Till We Kissed' was a Top 10 hit, and won the first ever Loxene Golden Disc Award in 1965.
NZ telly's longest running children's show turns 30 with a two hour, live extravaganza — far removed from its modest beginnings as a half hour pre-record in 1981. Current hosts Charlie, Johnson and Gem are joined by a parade of past presenters who reminisce, and compete to find the show's best decade. Masterchef finalist Jax Hamilton provides snacks, celebrities send greetings; and — in amongst the cupcakes, gunge, fart jokes and mayhem — the programme enters its fourth decade as an institution, watched by the children of its original audience.
Hip hop DJ/ producer P-Money (Pete Wadams) talks about a career born from very modest beginnings in this episode from a series for secondary school music students. After initial attempts at scratching on his father’s turntable were quickly rebuffed, he began making music using twin cassette decks. Success in DJ contests followed; and creating his own beats led to collaborations with acts including DLT, Scribe and Che Fu. He describes the process where his music for Scribe’s ‘I Remember’ was built up from samples from a particularly unlikely source.
NZ's first major female pop star, "Queen of the Mods", Dinah Lee is profiled in this NZBC special (one of the earliest surviving interviews with a Kiwi rock'n'roller). Her trademark pageboy-with-kiss-curls hairstyle is almost a character in its own right as she talks about the pressures of celebrity — while footage of her recording 'He Can't do the Bluebeat' reveals a singing voice that is almost a shock after the softly spoken interview. The last word goes to Lee's manager who recounts the "nightmare" repercussions of her TV appearance in Bermuda shorts.
An urban Maori trust, Te Whanau o Waipareira has developed from modest beginnings as a vegetable selling co-op into the biggest employment and training organisation in West Auckland. This documentary by Toby Mills and Aileen O'Sullivan examines its operations through the eyes of four people who have had their lives turned around by its all encompassing social, health, justice and education programmes. Interviewees include Pita Sharples and trust CEO John Tamihere (who recounts early struggles to be accepted by government, council and business sectors).
This 1978 documentary casts a critical eye over a depressed NZ music industry, and asks what has changed since its 60s glory days of pop stars, screaming fans and C’mon. By the late 70s, few musicians are earning a living and chart hits have dwindled (although the recording industry is bullish). Ray Columbus waxes lyrical about ‘She’s a Mod’. Kevan Moore and Peter Sinclair are sanguine about TV’s role, a finger is pointed at radio airplay, and the careers of Craig Scott, Mark Williams, Sharon O’Neill and John Rowles are considered. The only thing not in short supply is blame.
The Great Maiden's Blush hinges on two people from very different backgrounds: a girl-racer in prison for manslaughter (Hope and Wire's Miriama McDowell), who plans to adopt out her baby, and a failed classical pianist (Renee Lyons) whose own baby is due for a risky operation. Each must confront their own secrets in order to move forward. Andrea Bosshard and Shane Loader's acclaimed third movie continues an interest in character-rich stories where "big themes play out in modest circumstances". It won awards for McDowell and Best Self-Funded Film at the 2017 NZ Film Awards.