In July 1985 New Zealand Party leader Bob Jones and president Malcolm McDonald surprised many by announcing the nation's then third most popular party was taking an 18 month recess. Seeking comment, TVNZ chartered a helicopter and found Jones fishing near Turangi. Jones was not amused, infamously breaking reporter Rod Vaughan's nose (and punching cameraman Peter Mayo). Claiming harassment and backed by public opinion, Jones filed a court writ claiming $250,000 in damages. Later, after being fined $1000, he asked the judge if paying $2000 would allow him to do it again.
From humble beginnings as a stage actor in New Zealand in the 1950s, Nyree Dawn Porter achieved international success via British television. As one of the stars of 1967's The Forsyte Saga, she was seen by over 100 million people worldwide. Following the show’s mammoth success, she was awarded an OBE in 1970 for services to television.
Created by actor/writer Jonathan Hardy, comedy series Porters was based around a group of porters working in a big city hospital. This episode features an early screen appearance by Rima Te Wiata (Hunt for the Wilderpeople); she guest stars as a worried nurse who calls on junior porter Peter (Stephen Judd from Bridge to Nowhere), after hearing some strange noises on the night shift. An encounter in the mortuary awaits. The episode also includes appearances by fellow porters George Henare, Peter Bland and Bill Johnson, with Roy Billing playing their long-suffering boss.
Comedy series Porters featured an impressive cast. George Henare, Peter Bland (star of Came a Hot Friday), Bill Johnson (Under the Mountain) and Stephen Judd (Bridge to Nowhere) starred as a cynical team of hospital porters who share no love for their boss (Roy Billing). In the hope of lifting the standards of Kiwi comedy, the makers of this 80s television series imported Emmy award-winner Noam Pitlik (Barney Miller, Taxi) from the US to direct. The series made comedy from hospital romances, missing patients and union representation. Only six episodes were made.
This Weekend item from 1986 meets the team behind Radio New Zealand’s flagship show Morning Report, from hosts Geoff Robinson and Maggie Barry, to reporters and programmers. Robinson — who would host or co-host Morning Report for 35 years — talks about listener loyalty, the intimacy of radio, and rejecting BBC style delivery. Meanwhile co-host Maggie Barry — at 26, the show’s youngest host and its first woman presenter — reflects on the importance of being a morning person. Barry would later host a popular garden TV show, and became a National Party MP in 2011.
Heartland host Gary McCormick finds himself in the middle of a local conflict when he visits Port Chalmers in early 1993. Port Otago Limited is working on a major port development project that includes excavations on Observation Hill, and reclamations in Carey's Bay. Many locals are opposed to the project and tensions are running high. Local residents interviewed for the programme include celebrated artist Ralph Hotere, and McCormick also visits Hotere's art studio.
Richard Harman is a seasoned journalist, TV reporter and television producer who began his career in newspapers before joining TVNZ News in the 1970s. As a political reporter on Eyewitness and later Eyewitness News, he covered the 1984 general election as well as the Springbok Tour and the Rainbow Warrior bombing. In 1999 Harman set up his own production company which launched the current affairs shows Agenda and The Nation.
Tom Hern is a film producer who began his screen career as a junior reporter on children’s television show What Now?. He went on to star in The Tribe, where he met his future business partner James Napier Robertson. Hern acted in a number of other TV shows such as Shortland Street and Power Rangers, before producing his first feature film I’m Not Harry Jenson. Since then Hern has produced features Everything We Loved and The Dark Horse.
The founding member of Oscar-winning special effects house Weta Digital, George Port laboured for seven months solo on the digital effects for Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures. He went on to found Auckland effects company PRPVFX, which has supplied special effects for Xena: Warrior Princess, Rain of the Children and Green Lantern.
This collection celebrates the legendary moments that New Zealanders — huddled around the telly — gawked at, chortled with, and choked on our Choysa over as they played out on our screens. "There's a generation who remember where they were when JFK was shot", but as Paul Casserly asks in his collection primer, "where were you when Thingee's eye popped out?"