Gwen Stevens was one of the last survivors of World War ll's top secret Auckland Combined Military Headquarters. There she plotted grid references from New Zealand’s coastal radar, tracking the coming and goings of ships and aircraft. The threat of a Japanese invasion had everyone on edge. At one point there was panic when it was believed an aircraft carrier had been detected off the coast. All services were mobilised, but it turned out to be a mistaken reading of the Three Kings Islands. Over 70 years later, Stevens' recall remains clear. Stevens passed away on 1 January 2018.
The physical and mental demands of competitive kickboxing and Muay Thai ramp up considerably in the weeks leading up to big fights. Made to mark 125 years of women's suffrage, this Vice documentary follows preparations by female fighters for the Lethal Ladies tournament in Panmure, Auckland — where 28 fierce women try to punch and kick their way to victory. Wendy Talbot, a 'street fighter' who's given everything to her sport is pitted against 'dark horse' Kelly Broerse. Legendary fighter turned coach Baby 'The Pitbull' Nansen also features.
As the third season of hit show Dancing with the Stars began, broadcaster Paul Holmes was an underdog. His dance partner Rebecca Nicholson told Newstalk ZB that Holmes "dances like my dad". By mid-season Holmes knew that he needed to pull something out of the bag to stay in the running. The result: dancing the paso doble to Michael Jackson’s 'Thriller'. Judge Craig Revel Horwood called the routine "appallingly fabulous", as Holmes traded quips with the judges. In 2018 Stuff rated the homage to the King of Pop one of the show's most memorable moments.
In this excerpt from the final of the fourth season of Dancing with the Stars, two contestants remain: Silver Ferns netballer Temepara Bailey (then known as Temepara George), and Kiwis rugby league player Monty Betham. The clip recaps Bailey’s path to the final — including a netball injury scare — and showcases her foxtrot with dance partner Stefano Olivieri. Then it’s over to the judges to rate how the former World Netball Champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist has performed on the dance floor. Bailey would go on to win the season.
This episode of arts show Mercury Lane features legendary musician Bill Sevesi, and poet Sonja Yelich (mother of musician Lorde). Sevesi takes centre stage: various musician friends join him to reminisce about packing Auckland dance halls in the 50s and 60s (at least until the arrival of 10 o'clock closing). After celebrating his 79th birthday, Sevesi is still as upbeat and music-obsessed as ever, especially when it comes to his beloved steel guitar and ukulele. In the final clip, Sonja Yelich performs her poem Teeth, with wry accompanying visuals from director Fiona Samuel.
This 80s precursor to Dancing with the Stars took the competitive community spirit of Top Town to the dance floor, with dancers twirling and dipping in sequinned spandex for the ‘Top Dance City’ trophy. Hosted by radio personality Lindsay Yeo, this 1982 final follows the foxtrot and samba at Wellington’s Majestic Cabaret. Beside regional bragging rights, winners take home a Pye Vidmatic 10 inch TV. The Northern Ballet Company (the one from Auckland, not the company from Leeds) interrupt proceedings for a Venusian space travel interlude that won't soon be forgotten.
Based on a UK reality format, Dancing with the Stars sees a line-up of celebrities paired with a professional dance partner, and put through ballroom dance routines. Judges and a public vote eliminate a pair each week. A five time winner of best programme in its category, the show played for five hit seasons on TVNZ, hosted by Jason Gunn and Candy Lane. In 2015 it was relaunched by Great Southern TV for TV3; Dominic Bowden and Sharyn Casey hosted. Dai Henwood and Casey presented the seventh series in 2018. Winners have included Norm Hewitt and and Suzanne Paul.
Midway through the second season of the hit ballroom dancing show, politician Rodney Hide had won fans, lost weight, and weathered accusations that vote rigging had gone his way. More drama was to come: in this excerpt, Hide fails to catch dance partner Krystal Stuart at the end of their cha-cha, leading to the lowest score possible, and subsequent elimination. In 2018 Stuff rated the mishap as one of Dancing with the Stars' five most memorable moments. Hide regained some dignity in a series final guest appearance, when he and Stuart returned to execute the routine.
Music legend Prince Tui Teka performs his greatest hit ‘E Ipo’ in this excerpt from a TVNZ special recorded at Auckland’s Mandalay Ballroom. Based on a traditional Indonesian folk melody, ‘E Ipo’ was written by Teka with Ngoi (‘Poi E’) Pewhairangi, when he was courting her niece (and his future wife) Missy. The two join Tui Teka on stage (along with Pita Sharples’ Te Roopu Manutaki cultural group) for a rousing rendition performed with his trademark verve and humour. The song reached number one, following te reo-dominated chart-toppers 'The Bridge' (sung by Deane Waretini) in 1981, and Howard Morrison's 1982 version of 'How Great Thou Art'.
Got a major live event you want to put on television? Ron Pledger has long been one of the first people to get on the phone. The MBE-awarded director has commanded live coverage of Sir Edmund Hillary’s funeral, Kiri Te Kanawa in concert, This is Your Life and roughly 20 Anzac Day ceremonies. His screen career also encompasses church choirs, Canadian soap operas, the infamous GOFTA awards, and the madness of Top Town.