By 1973, Night Sky had been a familiar presence on New Zealand screens for 10 years; with astronomer Peter Read a knowledgeable, no-nonsense interpreter of developments in the space race and the stars. In this episode, Read reflects on the show’s first decade, from its first outing in June 1963 (when it was briefly called The Sky This Month). Read revisits highlights including the total solar eclipse in 1965, interviews with visiting astronauts, the first moon landing in 1969, and a visit to the United States to witness the launch of Apollo 15.
In this 1982 short film, Harry (Goodbye Pork Pie's Kelly Johnson) and Pheno (Donogh Rees) are bored Wellington rebels on a crime spree: tagging, stealing art and hijacking a bus to the badlands of nearby Makara Beach. It was the era of Muldoon, Springbok Tour protests, spacies and dole queues. The film captures the disillusionment of its youth, especially in the outcome of the duo's pursuit by a tyro cop (Duncan Smith). Johnson was fresh from Pork Pie, and Donogh Rees a young actor on the rise. Director Richard Riddiford went on to helm features Arriving Tuesday and Zilch.
Actor Rawiri Paratene was 16 years old when he joined Māori activist group Ngā Tamatoa (Young Warriors) in the early 1970s. "Those years helped shape the rest of my life," says Paratene in this 2012 Māori TV documentary, directed by Kim Webby. The programme is richly woven with news archive from the 1970s, showing protests about land rights and the Treaty of Waitangi, and a campaign for te reo to be taught in schools. Several ex Ngā Tamatoa members — including Hone Harawira, Tame Iti and Larry Parr— are interviewed by Paratene, who also presents the documentary.
New Zealand TV and the space race grew up hand in hand. For 11 years, self-taught astronomer and enthusiast Peter Read explained each new development and talked about what could be seen in the heavens on his monthly show Night Sky. A commercial artist by training, Read painted the set’s early backdrops. He made several trips to the USA to witness launches, interviewed visiting astronauts and, with models in hand, broadcast live on the night of the first moon landing. When it was cancelled in 1974, Night Sky was the country’s longest running show.
Singer/Songwriter Lydia Cole first found recognition with 2009 EP Love Will Find A Way. The following year she toured in support of Brooke Fraser, before releasing her debut album Me & Moon in 2012. It won critical acclaim, and its second single ‘Hibernate’ earned an APRA Silver Scroll nomination for songwriting. In late 2015 Cole launched a Kickstarter page to raise money for her second album, The Lay of the Land. Her single ‘Dream’ scored a second Silver Scroll nomination. In 2017 Cole relocated to Berlin.
A self taught stargazer, Peter Read’s passion for astronomy coincided with a budding television industry and the beginning of manned spaceflight. His programme, Night Sky, played in primetime from 1964; and his avuncular style inspired New Zealanders to look at the stars. It was the country’s longest running TV show when it was cancelled in 1974, and he was the longest serving presenter. Peter Read died in 1981.
Veteran cameraman Waynne Williams, MNZM, has shot everything from the Vietnam War and French nuclear testing to the Christchurch quake, TV drama Pukemanu and Australian movie The Box. Over more than half a century, Williams has worked on over 10,000 news stories. The Christchurch-based lensman runs Port Hills productions with partner Anne Williams.
The series Pounamu focused on the lives and deeds of Māori who played vital roles in the history of Aotearoa, including Te Kooti, Te Puea, Te Whiti, Āpirana Ngata, Guide Rangi and others. Made by the Māori Programmes Department of TVNZ, this episode features a re-enactment of part of the life of Prophet Tahupōtiki Wiremu Rātana (1873 - 1939). Ratana was a key influence in Māori politics and religion. For years virtually all Māori MPs were followers of the Ratana faith and supported the Labour Party on his instruction. The influence of Rātana remains strong.
From an early role as a teen bully in Children of Fire Mountain, Mark Hadlow, ONZM, has gone on to work beside Billy T James, Peter Jackson, talking hedgehogs and mutant huhu grubs. The veteran actor/comedian is fondly remembered for playing a wide-eyed farmer on hit TV series Willy Nilly; in Jackson’s three-part adaptation of The Hobbit, he was grey-bearded Dori the dwarf.
Xavier Horan is best known for Westside — thanks to multiple seasons playing Phineas O'Driscoll, the largest and slowest of a group of career robbers. Horan was nominated for NZ Screen Awards for two of his earliest acting turns: as a yuppie with no time for family, in Toa Fraser film No. 2, and South Auckland TV drama The Market. The ex boxer has gone on to play criminals (Tai Scott on Shortland Street, the gangleader in Alibi), fathers (family movie Kiwi Christmas), sportsman Sonny Bill Williams (in TV film The Kick), and various shades of fighter (te reo action movie The Dead Lands, urban drama The Last Saint.)