Peppermint Twist’s pastel-tinted portrait of 60s puberty floated onto New Zealand television screens in 1987. Despite winning a solid teen following, it only lasted for one series. Set amongst a group of teens in small town Roseville (in reality the outdoors set on the edge of Wellington, originally used for Country GP), the show’s stylised look and sound had few Kiwi precedents — though its links to American perennial Happy Days are clear. Peppermint made liberal, and increasingly confident use of period music, with each episode named after a pop song of the day.
An echoey guitar instrumental called ‘White Rabbit’ made Peter Posa a huge star in 60s New Zealand. This 2003 Sunday report offers a ‘whatever happened to?’ style report on Posa’s life and career. Presenter Cameron Bennett catches up with the once prolific Posa in Kamo, Whangarei, where he learns of guitarist’s struggles with depression and alcoholism, the devotion of his wife Margaret and their salvation through faith — and his journey to performing again. Nine years later, a 'best of’ release of Posa’s music would top the NZ album charts.
"Ever wondered what the well-dressed man wears next to his skin?" In this early 60s advertisement, the bloke is a businessman — played by 30-something Peter Harcourt — and the answer is tighty whities, aka Jockey undies. An era of selfies and Dan Carter Jockey billboards was decades away, and originally the Pacific Films-made ad was rejected for television screening, before later being passed on appeal. Harcourt acted regularly in Wellington theatre; his wife was actor Kate Harcourt, and he fathered actor Miranda and journalist Gordon.
This 1968 segment from an early Sunday night magazine show provides light-hearted visuals for a classic Kiwi song. Though written by Rod Derrett as a parody, 'Rugby, Racing and Beer' became an unofficial national anthem of the 60s, where it was an icon of the Kiwi male's recreational trio of choice. The clip takes the perspective of a "little shaver" being educated in his national heritage by various footy-playing, boozing'n'betting paternal role models (aka blokes afflicted with 'Kiwiitis'). The early New Zealand music video finishes with scenes of packed terraces at Athletic Park.
“It’s hard to imagine our way of life before the box turned up in our living rooms.” Newsreader Dougal Stevenson presents this condensed history of New Zealand television’s first 15 years: from 60s current affairs and commercials, to music shows and early attempts at drama. The first part of a two-part special, this charts the single channel days of the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation from its birth in 1960 until puberty in 1975, when it was split into two separate channels. Includes recollections from many of NZ TV’s formative reporters and presenters.
Looking at New Zealand was an early NZBC “pictorial magazine” show which explored “New Zealand’s backyard”. Produced by Conon Fraser, it was a staple of Sunday night 60s TV. In this edition the narrator introduces NZ’s unheralded scenic wonder: “its girls”, as he meets some of Miss New Zealand’s 1969 contestants. The women talk about their interests (“I adore frilly nighties”) and occupations (typist) in a style that is more Stepford Wives than Kate Sheppard. Miss Auckland Carole Robinson (not seen here), would go on to win Miss Photogenic at that year’s Miss Universe pageant.
NFU-produced TV series These New Zealanders explored the character and people of six NZ towns, 60s-style. Fronted by Selwyn Toogood, it was one of the legendary presenter's first TV slots. In this episode Toogood dons the walk shorts and long socks and visits Taupō, extolling the lake district as a place of play (camping, fishing, swimming, jet-boating) and work (the development of Lochinver Station for farming). Toogood does a priceless vox pop survey of summertime visitors, including the requisite quizzing of an overseas couple about whether they like it here.
A stylish title sequence sets the tone for this NFU short on motor racing in the early 60s. Shot during the golden age of the sport, it begins with amateurs competing in Dunedin's 'round the town' race (won by future Formula One champ Denis Hulme), then shifts north to Auckland for the New Zealand International Grand Prix. 60,000 spectators watch world champ Jack Brabham and local hero Bruce McLaren battle for the title. Also included are classic summer shots of the world's top drivers relaxing on the beach, and Australian racer Arnold Glass teaching McLaren to waterski.
Early teleplay The Evening Paper had the same rigid (theatre or radio-derived) format as other early TV dramas of the 60s, but it did something never before seen on local screens. Written by playwright Bruce Mason, the drama dared to expose a stifling NZ suburban existence. Jaded visiting Pom, Phillip; snivelling Winsome and her domineering mother Elfrida, and passive father Ernest, proved too much for viewers, who decried the drama as inaccurate and "unfair"; in other words, The Evening Paper gave Kiwis their first on-screen dose of cultural cringe.
John O'Shea was godfather to generations of Kiwi filmmakers; he was an inspirational force committed to bringing new perspectives to the screen. As Ngati actor Wi Kuki Kaa put it, "had he been a Māori, he would have been a kaumatua years ago". This documentary backgrounds O'Shea and his pioneering indie production company Pacific Films, ranging from his efforts to put Māori on screen, to banned 60s ads. The cast provides proof positive of O'Shea's influence — amongst the ex-Pacific staff interviewed are the late Barry Barclay, Tony Williams and Gaylene Preston.