Gary McCormick

Presenter

Known for his many live tours as a poet, debater and speaker, Kiwi legend Gary McCormick has made a host of appearances on New Zealand television. His work on the talk show McCormick and long-running series Heartland helped make him television's most popular presenter in a 1999 newspaper poll. 

Artists Prepare: Sam Hunt and Gary McCormick

Short Film, 1980 (Full Length)

Artists Prepare was an National Film Unit series that featured prominent performance-based artists of the time. The edition follows poets Sam Hunt and Gary McCormick (the "John Travolta of New Zealand poetry") on tour in the Nelson region as they give poetry readings, talk to high school girls, drink whiskey, and muse about poetry and life — while Minstrel, Hunt's dog, lies patiently under bar tables. Ultra-tight stovepipe jeans, rock-star scarves, scenes in a milk bar and out on the open road in a Valiant evoke a time when poetry and heartthrob weren't antonyms.

Interview

Gary McCormick: Radio host, presenter and poet...

Interview, Camera and Editing – Andrew Whiteside

Poetry, satire and music were the mainstays of Gary McCormick’s life, before he took his unique world view to television. His on screen career began with the award-winning documentary Raglan by the Sea, on which he collaborated with filmmaker Bruce Morrison. McCormick's best-known TV series was Heartland, which ran for four years and told the stories of communities across the country. In the mid 90s McCormick teamed up with his buddy and fellow poet Sam Hunt for a romp around New Zealand in the celebrated documentary The Roaring 40’s Tour. In 1998 McCormick returned to his home town of Porirua to host The Bay Boys – a gripping documentary about life in the suburb. Since then McCormick has hosted other talk shows and was a guest host on Nightline. Now resident in Lyttelton, McCormick shares hosting duties on More FM in Christchurch with his mate Simon Barnett.

Collection

New Zealand Poetry

Curated by NZ On Screen team

This collection celebrates New Zealand's rich history in poetry, with documentaries on some of the country's finest poets — including Allen Curnow, Denis Glover, Sam Hunt, James K Baxter, Cilla McQueen and Hone Tuwhare. Tuwhare turns up in multiple titles, from 1975 interview Review - Hone Tuwhare to Gaylene Preston's 2005 documentary. Meanwhile Sam Hunt and Gary McCormick hit the road in 1980’s Artists Prepare, then 15 years later in The Roaring 40's Tour — when the ache of descending middle age is upon them. 

Collection

The Sam Hunt Collection

Curated by NZ On Screen team

This collection celebrates poet, raconteur and all-round Kiwi living legend Sam Hunt. The collection features screen highlights from Hunt's life and career — from his Cook Strait special Catching the Tide, to chronicles of life on the road with fellow poet Gary McCormick, to excerpts from 2010 documentary Sam Hunt: Purple Balloon and Other Stories.

The Irish Connection

Television, 1999 (Full Length)

This high-rating 1999 documentary follows Gary McCormick to Ireland to investigate "those strands which tie" Kiwis to the Emerald Isle, from Dublin to the north, where his forebears originated in the 1870s. He meets locals, (musicians, tinkers, playwrights, scuba divers) and Kiwi expats, and talks The Troubles, Celtic Tigers, and why Irish emigrated to Aotearoa. Irish Connection was another collaboration between McCormick and director Bruce Morrison (Heartland, Raglan by the Sea). Companion title The London Connection saw McCormick examining Kiwi links to London. 

Wonderful World - TV One Channel ID

Television, 1991 (Full Length)

One shaggy dog, dozens of humans, and a smorgasbord of Kiwi scenery: viewers were glued to the screen for this TV One promotional campaign, which began screening in August 1991. The six-part promo followed a lovable sydney silky poodle cross travelling the country by car, train and paw. En route, roughly 50 Kiwis make blink and you'll miss it appearances: including sporting figures, local townspeople, and 20+ TV personalities (see backgrounder for more info, and clues on who is who). The popular promos were directed by Lee Tamahori, before he made Once Were Warriors

The London Connection

Television, 1999 (Full Length)

This 1999 documentary see presenter Gary McCormick exploring the lives of New Zealand expats living in London. London Kiwis – including MTV Europe head Brent Hansen, Angel at My Table actor Kerry Fox, chef Peter Gordon, house-boaters Karyn Hay and Andrew Fagan, and drunk backpackers at The Church – reflect on their overseas experience and the meaning of home. Produced alongside a companion documentary on Kiwis in Ireland, London Connection was a further collaboration between McCormick, director Bruce Morrison and producer William Grieve (Heartland). 

Series

Descent from Disaster

Television, 2013–2015

Using interviews, reenactments and archive images, each episode of Screentime series Descent from Disaster examines a major New Zealand disaster — what happened, and what was learnt. Presenters were chosen for their connection to each topic. Sailor Andrew Fagan outlines the 1894 wreck of the SS Wairarapa off Great Barrier Island; weatherman and pilot Jim Hickey looks at a 1948 Ruapehu plane crash; Leigh Hart asks his miner father about the 1967 explosion at the Strongman mine. The first season of seven episodes screened in 2013. Another six followed in 2015.  

Heartland - Lyttelton

Television, 1996 (Full Length Episode)

In this full-length Heartland episode, Gary McCormick heads south to the port town of Lyttelton, where some say you can't claim to be local unless you've been in town all your life. There he looks around a freighter and finds time to talk to a smorgasboard of passionate locals, some of whom wish yuppies from Christchurch would stay home. He visits ex-Seaman's Union President Bill 'Pincher' Martin, who recalls the tense days of the 1951 lockout. Meanwhile cameraman Matt Bowkett captures some evocative footage from the surrounding hills, and among the action of a busy port.