This second episode of the three-part series following British MP Austin Mitchell’s return to the country where he began his career in (as a broadcaster and author of 1972 book The Half Gallon Quarter Acre Pavlova Paradise) sees a focus on politics. The former Canterbury University political scientist gives a potted political history, from the roots of a conservative Kiwi political mien to the radical changes wrought by Lange’s 80s Labour government and the rise of women ‘on the hill’. Finally he considers tourism, Treaty settlements and the aspirations of Māori.
'No 8 wire' Kiwi ingenuity is defined by problem solving from few resources (No 8 wire is fencing wire that can be adapted to many uses, an ability that was particularly handy for isolated NZ settlers). Embodied in heroes from Richard Pearse to PJ, Kiwi ingenuity is a quality dear to our national sense of self. It has been memorably celebrated, and sometimes satirised, on screen.
The late Frank Torley was a Kiwi television legend, forever known as that Country Calendar guy - he variously narrated, directed, produced, and reported for the show over more than 40 years. But Torley hadn’t always been Mr Rural. He also spent time as a newsreader, Top Town presenter, documentary maker (including an early doco on AIDs), and producing religious programmes.
Ask Country Calendar viewers which shows they remember and inevitably the answer is "the spoofs" — satirical episodes that screened unannounced. Sometimes there was outrage but mostly the public enjoyed having the wool pulled over their eyes. Created by producer Tony Trotter and Bogor cartoonist Burton Silver, the first (in late 1977) was the fencing wire-playing farmer and his "rural music". This special episode collects the best of the spoofs, from the infamous radio-controlled dog, to the gay couple who ran a "stress-free" flock, and more malarkey besides.
Designer Garnet Nelson has a distinctive attitude to fashion for the rural sector, showcased in a range of clothes combining style and practicality — although the after five combinations may be a step too far. This might be one of the celebrated Country Calendar spoof episodes, but the buy-in from models who could only be farmers and not actors is a sight to behold. And the fashion tips don't end there. Reporter (and long time Country Calendar producer) Frank Torley adds his own sartorial note with an unfeasibly long shirt collar that has a mind of its own.
Temuera Morrison was acting on screen at age 11. Two decades later he won Kiwi TV immortality as Dr Ropata in Shortland Street, and rave global reviews as abusive husband Jake Heke in Once Were Warriors. Since reprising his Warriors role in a well-regarded sequel, Morrison has starred in Crooked Earth, Tracker and Mahana, hosted a talk show and a variety show, and played Jango Fett in two Star Wars prequels.
The varied CV of John Charles includes composing music for classic movies Goodbye Pork Pie, Utu and The Quiet Earth. Charles has worked in television on both sides of the Tasman, including time as head of entertainment for Television One, and directing duties on landmark drama series Pukemanu and comedy Buck House.
Dave Armstrong writes plays, books, award-winning comedy shows (Spin Doctors) and dramas (quake tale Hope and Wire). He also plays trumpet. Armstrong has been creating comedy alongside director Danny Mulheron since childhood, including Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby — the tale of an un PC teacher — and Samoan family comedy The Semisis. Armstrong also co-wrote award-winning play Niu Sila with bro'Town's Oscar Kightley, which chronicles the friendship between a polynesian and a palagi.
Hilary Barry has long experience of reporting and reading the news. In 1993 she began a two decade stint at TV3. In 2005 she became anchor of the channel's primetime news, alongside Mike McRobert. Barry went on to report from the Canterbury quakes, the 2011 royal wedding and the famine in Africa. She left TV3 in 2016, and began co-hosting TVNZ's Breakfast; in 2018 she moved to primetime show Seven Sharp.
After managing to introduce drama and dance into his post WWII films for the National Film Unit, filmmaker Michael Forlong spent the remainder of his career directing features in Europe. In 1972 he returned to New Zealand to shoot children's tale Rangi's Catch, discovering actor Temuera Morrison in the process.