Radio with Pictures - Women Songwriters

Television, 1988 (Full Length Episode)

A NZ Herald assertion that women’s music is just “gentle, political folk songs” leads off this report for TVNZ’s mid-80s rock show. It’s presented by Dick Driver from a showcase for women songwriters at Auckland’s much loved and missed Gluepot in Ponsonby. Featured musicians are singer/songwriter Mahinarangi Tocker, blues singer Mahia Blackmore and then member of When the Cat’s Away Dianne Swann. Those sensitive folksongs are in short supply but the same can’t be said for the obstacles encountered in dealing with a male dominated music industry.

Series

Cuckoo Land

Television, 1985

Heavily influenced by the mid-80s MTV-led music video boom, this madcap six part kids fantasy series focuses on an aspiring songwriter and her daughters who renounce life on a land yacht to settle in a house with a mind of its own. Based on scripts by acclaimed author Margaret Mahy (in her first collaboration with director Yvonne Mackay), it utilises then cutting edge video special effects (requiring locked off shots and no camera movement). The soundtrack is by composer Jenny McLeod while Paul Holmes' narrator is omnipotent and petulant in equal parts.

Making Music - Hinewehi Mohi

Short Film, 2005 (Full Length)

In this episode from a series for secondary school music students, singer Hinewehi Mohi recalls the controversy that followed her Maori language rendition of 'God Defend New Zealand' at the 1999 Rugby World Cup. She talks of her immersion in music at school and its importance to her following the birth of her daughter with cerebral palsy (and the Raukatauri Music Therapy Centre this inspired her to establish). As a songwriter who doesn't play an instrument, she explains the origins of 'Kotahitanga' — her Maori language-meets-dance pop hit with Oceania in 2002.

Making Music - The Black Seeds

Short Film, 2005 (Full Length)

Wellington funk, soul, reggae act The Black Seeds manage to cram themselves into a single shot for this episode from a series made for secondary school music students. Bookended by stripped back performances of 'Keep on Pushing' and 'Going Back Home', they explain the development of these songs from their origins as bass grooves. Mike Fabulous has cautionary words for aspiring songwriters about the dangers of overcomplicated song structures while Barnaby Weir reassuringly suggests that virtuosity is not an absolute prerequisite for being in the band.    

Koha - Māori Musicians

Television, 1986 (Full Length Episode)

The artists profiled in this edition of the TVNZ Māori show share a heritage and the vicissitudes of life as professional musicians, but their fields and approaches to making music differ markedly. Entertainer Bunny Walters is rebuilding a career that became derailed after initial success with his hit 'Brandy'. Opera singer Richard Haeata is looking to make his way in a largely Pākehā world which he finds alienating in its individuality. And singer-songwriter Mahinārangi Tocker celebrates her gender and Māori identity but has little use for the music industry.

Making Music - Fat Freddy's Drop

Short Film, 2005 (Full Length)

In this episode from a series made for high school music students, Dallas Tamaira and DJ Mu recall Fat Freddy's Drop's early history as a duo with just turntables and a microphone in a vibrant Wellington scene. They reveal an aversion to rehearsals, preferring to develop their music in a live setting and Mu demonstrates the component parts of their song 'Midnight Marauders' on his secret weapon — an Akai sampler capable of emulating all of the instruments in their sound. His verdict that every school should have one may not have gladdened principals' hearts.

Making Music - Moana Maniapoto

Short Film, 2005 (Full Length)

Singer Moana Maniapoto discusses her evolution as a Māori musician in this episode from a series for high school music students. After first singing in public on the marae and learning to harmonise at school, she paid her way through university by singing in nightclubs. She describes her epiphany in a Detroit church as she realised that she needed to sing Māori songs rather than keep trying to emulate American soul and r'n'b divas. An acoustic performance of 'Hine Te Iwaiwa' (from her Toru album) is followed by a demonstration of traditional instruments. 

Making Music - Goodshirt

Short Film, 2005 (Full Length)

Rodney Fisher and Gareth Thomas from Auckland band Goodshirt preach a DIY message, in this episode from a series directed at secondary school music students. In the backyard of the house where they made their debut album, they perform stripped back versions of 'Slippy' (inspired by a Grey Lynn bus ride) and 'Blowing Dirt'. There's also a guided tour of the back shed where they built a recording studio with accessibly priced equipment that was good enough to produce a chart topping single in 'Sophie' — and stop them going into debt to a record company. 

Making Music - Chris Knox

Short Film, 2005 (Full Length)

Indie legend Chris Knox is featured in this episode from a series made for secondary school music students. He performs 'One Fell Swoop' — a love song he describes as an aberration amongst his more "nasty" numbers — and explains its composition while denying Whitney Houston comparisons. Knox is typically forthright in discussing his varied career as musician, cartoonist, TV presenter and "renaissance bloke". He outlines his philosophy of DIY self-sufficiency and extols the virtues of never compromising (so that even failure is "much more meaningful").

Cuckoo Land - The House (First Episode)

Television, 1985 (Full Length)

Musician Petunia (Jennifer Ludlam) and daughters Polly and Patch are tiring of their lives as land yachting "gypsies of the motorway" in the first episode of this hyperactive children's fantasy drama written by Margaret Mahy. Their salvation could be a magic house owned by Crocodile Crosby — a used car dealer with ambitions to be a pirate — but a devious land agent (Michael Wilson) and a dastardly wealthy couple stand in the way. All powerful narrator Paul Holmes orchestrates the action which features extensive use of music and period video special effects.