Collection

Five Decades of NZ Number One Hits

Curated by NZ On Screen team

This collection rounds up almost every music video for a number one hit by a Kiwi artist; everything from ballads to hip hop to glam rock. Press on the images below to find the hits for each decade  — plus try this backgrounder by Michael Higgins, whose high speed history of local hits touches on the sometimes questionable ways past charts were created.  

Weekly Review No. 407

Short Film, 1949 (Full Length)

Coverage of a major event in the history of the NZ music industry — the pressing of Ruru Karaitiana’s timeless classic ‘Blue Smoke’ — is the highlight of this NFU newsreel. It was the first recording of a local composition performed by local musicians to be manufactured in NZ (in a very exact and highly labour intensive exercise involving men in white coats). The country’s biggest airlift of sheep, sharp shooting army cadets, high flying painters redecorating a Wellington church and heavy machinery being moved across Auckland by barge also feature.

People like Us - Apirana Mahuika

Television, 1981 (Full Length)

This People Like Us episode profiles Apirana Mahuika, before he became leader of Ngāti Porou. Having left lecturing at Massey University to return to his East Coast hometown of Tikitiki, Mahuika talks at his farm 'laboratory' about tamarillos, gangs, and coming home. He hopes his progressive farming (trialling kiwifruit and wine) will encourage young Ngāti Porou to remain and find jobs.  A key figure in many Treaty of Waitangi claims and lead negotiator of Ngāti Porou's claim, Mahuika died in February 2015; Tau Henare said "his passing will cut a swathe through the forest".

Sailor's Voyage

Television, 2007 (Full Length)

Sailor's Voyage charts the journey of Hello Sailor, the band that ripped up a storm live, made landings in the USA, ran aground and fell apart, then drifted back together again. Interviews with Graham Brazier, Dave McArtney, Harry Lyon and co reveal how the group opened doors for local music, and helped establish a New Zealand touring circuit. Manager David Gapes recalls attempts to get a US record deal, before the cash ran out; the legend of Brazier being asked to join The Doors is explained. The archive footage includes a performance with Doors member Ray Manzarek. 

Four Shorts on Architecture

Short Film, 1975 (Full Length)

Director Sam Neill uses ‘Architect Man’ — a cartoon superhero trying to save Wellington’s buildings from mediocrity — to open this visual essay on contemporary Kiwi architecture. A montage of construction materials is followed by views on the high rise, woolshed, and Futuna Chapel. Renovation, DIY, prefabs and non-conformist design thinking are offered as hopes for the built environment’s future. Made by Neill when he was working at the National Film Unit, it was released in a shortened version (without the animation) in 1977, the same year he starred in movie Sleeping Dogs.

Artist

SJD

The man behind the SJD acronym — Sean James Donnelly — has been both a solo dance/pop-rock act, and part of a live six-piece band. ‘Beautiful Haze' and ‘I Wrote This Song For You' were heard widely after being licensed for television ad campaigns. Seven albums to date, characterised by inventive and eclectic songwriting (including Songs from a Dictaphone and Saint John Divine) were capped with the 2013 Taite Music Prize for album Elastic Wasteland.

Blood, Sweat and Touring

Television, 1990 (Full Length)

The follow up to 1989 tour doco The Good, the Bad and the Rugby sees winger John Kirwan narrate an insider’s guide to the All Blacks’ 1990 tour to France: from Michael Jones negotiating a haircut (“how do you say ‘square top’ in French?”) to 19-year-old Simon Mannix leading a ‘Ten Guitars’ singalong. Footy relics of the era include afternoon test matches, four point tries, placed kick-offs, sneaky ciggies and Steinlager. Producer Ric Salizzo later repeated the Pasta Productions’ recipe — sports fandom mixed with schoolboy pratfalls — in the successful Sports Cafe series.

John Banas

Writer, Actor

Beginning as an actor, writer and director in local theatre during the 70s, John Banas increasingly focused on dramatic writing for television from the 80s on. After relocating to Australia, he established himself as a prolific TV screenwriter with a string of iconic shows, including Blue Heelers and City Homicide. His New Zealand scripts include award-winning telemovies Siege and How to Murder Your Wife.

Murray Newey

Producer

Murray Newey produced New Zealand's first horror film - Death Warmed Up, and went on to win international investment in four Kiwi-made features: Moonrise, Never Say Die, teen tale Bonjour Timothy and award-winner The Whole of the Moon.

Ilona Rodgers

Actor

Actor Ilona Rodgers made her name with a starring role as magazine editor Maxine Redfern in prime-time soap Gloss. But Rodgers' career began in her native England; her globetrotting career has seen her acting alongside Doctor Who, The Beverly Hillbillies, and the inhabitants of Marlin Bay