Christopher Columbus sailed 15,000 miles to find the new world: "500 years later, it turned up on the doorstep." This documentary chronicles New Zealand's hit contribution to Expo '92, held on the Seville island where Columbus apparently planned his voyages. Amidst the celebrations, come culture clashes. Reporter Marcia Russell argues that ultimately Expo is about creating consumers and brand awareness, by selling New Zealad as sophisticated, exotic, proud, and culturally mature. It is also a chance to persuade the masses that Aotearoa is actually south.
The concept for this 2004 reality series involved 10 bachelors trying to succeed on the Auckland dating scene, while overcoming specially set challenges. Hosted by model Nicky Watson, and produced by Touchdown supremo Julie Christie, this first episode sees Watson pick the 10 (from 15 who began) who will move into the bachelor pad. It introduces the lewd lines, lingerie and phallic fruit that saw The Spinoff’s Duncan Greive describe the show as "an affront to humanity – but man, was it ever fun to watch". Caution: the content from the ‘lads' mag’ era is PC free.
Great New Zealand River Journeys was a three part series produced by George Andrews that examined the history, geography and people of three of New Zealand's most iconic rivers: comedian Jon Gadsby explores the Clutha river, poet Sam Hunt the Whanganui, and musician Lynda Topp takes on the Waikato.
Irreverent 90s youth show hosts Mikey Havoc and Jeremy ‘Newsboy’ Wells went on the road in this hit series. Down south they infamously outed Gore as the “gay capital of New Zealand”. While many viewers had a laugh at the Auckland duo’s lampooning of small town conservatism, some took the bait and were not amused by Newsboy's “gay man’s Gore” moniker, preferring to tout the town’s trout fishing, line-dancing and country music. The mischievous pair also visit Dunedin, Fox Glacier and Queenstown, where they 'promote' attractions and meet base jumper Chuck Berry.
Phil Keoghan’s pre-Amazing Race screen education included profiling Kiwi adventure sport thrillseekers in a series of short vignettes for TV3’s Mobil Sport. Scored to a sampler of early 90s pop music, these clips focus mostly on rad airborne acrobats: a ‘para-bungee’, the then-new sport of skysurfing, riding atop a Tiger Moth, Phil losing the sponsor’s product flying with veteran fighter pilot Bryan Cox, plus surfing down sand dunes on snowboards. Keoghan later took the Keoghan’s Heroes concept to Canada and the United States (including a slot on CBS news).
This 2000 reality show involved contestants completing challenges and overcoming a planted double agent, in order to avoid elimination and win a $30,000 cash prize. “All they have to do is survive the show and unmask the mole,” says host Mark Ferguson (Spin Doctors, Shortland Street). In this first episode, the group travel to Queenstown to tandem bungee jump, pack each other’s bags, complete a brain teaser, and eat ... before the first elimination. The Kiwi version of a 1998 Belgian format made a 2016 NZ Herald list of New Zealand’s worst ever reality shows.
A light-hearted short film from director Peter Salmon, starring veteran performer Mark Clare (Clare achieved fame as the bungy jumper in the classic 1992 Instant Kiwi ad and is the singer for legendary NZ band The Newmatics). Here Clare plays a real estate agent with a penchant for song and dance who discovers he can make music by jumping on the creaky floorboards of an old villa. But wait, there's a punch line to this quirky little comedy that Roald Dahl would be proud of: a sinister surprise lies in wait beneath the floorboards.
This wryly-titled 80s show was a homegrown take on US show That’s Incredible!, with the spectacular stunts and supernatural happenings of the original replaced with more downbeat kiwiana kitsch subjects. This excerpt from an end of season review looks at highlights from presenter Phil Keoghan’s contribution. The future Amazing Race host tries a spaghetti eating competition (post-bungy jumping), giraffe feeding, land sailing, snowboarding, male cheerleading, cow pat tossing and a cowboy up challenge. TFI was the first series from production company Communicado.
A look at the world of body piercing, from the everyday to the extreme. In the documentary an expert suggests that people pierce their bodies for three reasons: for aesthetics, for their ego, or to enhance their sexuality. A range of views about piercing are expressed, from those who love it to those who find it ugly or intimidating. Watch for Dean (who clearly loves his piercings) who bungy jumps with large meat hooks piercing the skin on his back. Piercing was another topic-based documentary made for TV3's Inside New Zealand series.
The Newmatics came out of a fertile post-punk early 80s Auckland music scene that also spawned Blam Blam Blam and the Screaming Meemees. Taking their cues from ska, r’n’b and soul, they were a fearsome live act — but managed to release only nine songs (including their enduring legacy ‘Riot Squad’ — synonymous now with the 1981 Springbok Tour). After their split in 1983, Mark Clare took up acting (he’s the bungy jumper in the classic Instant Kiwi ad), Kelly Rogers co-founded Rialto Cinemas and Ben Staples played with UK indie band The Woodentops.