John Sumner

Actor

After making a career in marketing at record company RCA, English-born John Sumner switched back to his original love of performing in 1992. Since then he’s appeared in Shortland Street and had a memorable role in political satire Spin Doctors as Giles Peterson — "the buffoon", as Sumner calls him — the boss of a PR agency. He played the producer of a current affairs show on TV's Cover Story, and on the big screen was cameraman Herb in Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong. Sumner has also lent his voice talents to numerous shows and documentaries, including Going Going Gone, Treasure Island and Piha Rescue.

Racing Rivers

Short Film, 1976 (Full Length)

It was a Kiwi that invented the jet-boat, so it is probably unsurprising that at the time of this film’s production New Zealand teams had won Mexico's Rio Balsas Marathon three times. Directed by Derek Wright, the award-winning NFU doco showcases what was then the longest jet-boat race yet staged: a five-day 1000km race across NZ, with the locals putting their trophy on the line. The race hits the rapids and — despite the odd tree stump — speeds past scenery on six rivers (from the Whanganui to the Waimakariri), Lake Brunner, and through the surf to Sumner Beach.

The City And The Suburb (part one)

Television, 1983 (Full Length)

In this two-part Lookout documentary from 1983, critic Hamish Keith explores how New Zealanders have housed themselves over the 20th Century. This first part builds to 1935: it begins in Auckland War Memorial Museum, with Keith asking how Kiwis would represent themselves if they were curators in the future. He presents the state house as the paramount Kiwi icon, and examines the journey from Victorian slums and Queen Street sewers to villas, bungalows and suburbia; plus the impact on housing of cars, consumerism, influenza, war, depression, and new ideas in town planning.

Kaleidoscope - Rita Angus

Television, 1983 (Full Length Episode)

This 1983 episode of arts series Kaleidoscope profiles the life of Rita Angus, whose paintings won critical acclaim both in New Zealand and abroad. After growing up in Hastings and Palmerston North, Angus moved down to Christchurch, initially to study at Canterbury College School of Art. Later she spent more than a decade in the Wellington suburb of Thorndon. Featuring interviews with those who knew her at various stages of her life, and numerous examples of her work, this half-hour documentary provides a thorough overview of who Rita Angus was.

A Shocking Reminder - Part Two

Television, 2012 (Full Length Episode)

The second half of this documentary following the effects of the Christchurch earthquakes revisits its subjects in the days after the catastrophic events of 22 February. Devastation is now widespread, the death toll is growing and aftershocks number in the hundreds. Over the next eight months, seriously injured bodies mend but, while there are moments of hope, lives are on hold and nerves are being stretched to breaking point by the constantly moving ground, recurring liquefaction and uncertainty about whether precious homes can, or should, be rebuilt.

Coming Home - Roger Donaldson & Steve Millen

Television, 1999 (Full Length Episode)

Film director Roger Donaldson and motor racing legend Steve Millen both began making their mark in New Zealand, before making the move to California. The first Coming Home episode sees them at work in the USA, and visiting old haunts in Aotearoa. Donaldson shoots the effects-heavy Dante's Peak and prepares $100 million thriller Thirteen Days, while Millen hits the race track, in-between running his custom car parts company. Later he returns to the farm near Auckland, where his need for speed began on the family tractor. Donaldson heads to Auckland and Queenstown.

Series

Treasure Island/Celebrity Treasure Island

Television, 1997–2007

Treasure Island was an early local example of a reality show staple — contestants endured the great outdoors, and each other. Over nine seasons the series went through multiple variations, including a Couples at War season, and another featuring favourites from the past. During the 2004 season of Celebrity Treasure Island, contestant Lana Coc-Kroft was airlifted from Fiji, after she cut her foot on coral and got a life-threatening blood-poisoning disease. On 2002's Treasure Island: Extreme, Barrie Rice — an ex SAS soldier — dealt with being eliminated by hiding in the jungle.

Going Going Gone - First Episode

Television, 2000 (Full Length Episode)

Each episode of Going Going Gone introduces sellers as they head to auction, and then sees if buyers agree with their valuations when the items go under the hammer. This opening episode heads to Turners for a classic car auction, and follows a woman selling off her antique family furniture, as her heirlooms are assessed then presented for sale by auctioneer James Parkinson. The show ends with a teaser: the arrival of a bejewelled solid gold bull at Webb’s auction house. The long-running popular factual show was made by Greenstone Productions for TVNZ. 

Coming Home - John Money & Wayne McIlwraith

Television, 1999 (Full Length)

This Coming Home episode introduces two Kiwi "pioneers in their fields": psychologist John Money and horse expert Wayne McIlwraith. Colorado-based McIlwraith works on top racehorses around the globe, then goes climbing on his rare days off. Money was celebrated and criticised for his game-changing work on gender and sexuality. Returning for a visit downunder, he sets about donating his artworks to a museum in Gore. The episode was made soon after doubts were first raised about the success of Money's most famous case of gender reassignment, David Reimer. 

Series

Spin Doctors

Television, 2001–2003

Set in a high flying PR firm, Spin Doctors was a topical, fast turnaround satire — in the tradition of John Clarke’s The Games. No client is too grasping, no issue too unsavoury for Giles Peterson and Associates, and a team including a ruthless Australian (Mark Ferguson), a boozy trout (Elizabeth Hawthorne) and the office liberal unsuccessfully battling his conscience (John Leigh). Each episode was written and produced in just five days — allowing the writers (including James Griffin, Roger Hall and Tom Scott) full license with the week’s issues.