Town and Around: Auckland Highlights

Television, 1966 (Full Length)

Presenter Keith Bracey picks out the highlights from 1966 for the northern edition of magazine show Town and Around. 'Kiwi gent' Barry Crump, sharp-shooting country singer Tex Morton, singer Lee Grant and axeman Sonny Bolstad feature, alongside visitors including US comedian Shelley Berman, actor Chips Rafferty and English TV presenter (Pavlova Paradise author) Austin Mitchell, who criticises the state of local media. Keith's picks gravitate to the light-hearted, with probing coverage of gardening with gnomes and a man who uses a carrot as a musical instrument.

Out of the Dark

Television, 1996 (Full Length)

This documentary follows the police investigation that lead to the capture and imprisonment of South Auckland rapist Joseph Thompson. He was the first serial rapist convicted in New Zealand. Using re-enactments and in depth interviews with police, the Keith Hunter-directed doco examines how the relatively new technology of DNA matching and criminal profiling led to the arrest of Thompson in 1995. Viewers are not spared details of his long-lasting and brutal rampage which targeted girls as young as 10. Thompson was eventually sentenced to over 30 years in prison.

A Baby on the Way

Short Film, 1971 (Full Length)

Made for the Plunket Society by the NFU, A Baby on the Way uses a blackboard and various experts in front of an antenatal class to provide birth education for early 70s Kiwi parents-to-be. Plunket Medical Director Neil Begg lowers his pipe to introduce the lessons, and contemporary advice for ensuring a mother’s health during pregnancy is given by doctors, nurses, and physios. The scenes involving breast massage and analgesics may have induced titters in school-aged audiences, unlike the brief-but-gory concluding birth (set to piped organ music).

Syn City - New Zealand's Deadly Synthetic Drugs Epidemic

Web, 2018 (Full Length Episode)

In 2013 the Psychoactive Substances Act became law in Aotearoa, effectively outlawing synthetic cannabinoids. This Vice documentary looks at how they continue to affect West Auckland — where people are still addicted, but the drugs are now on the black market. Tammara shares her experiences of trying to get clean, and dealing with treatment services. Her father rues the impact of synthetics on her life, and emergency responders add their views. Meanwhile ex user Trey talks about those he’s lost. In 2017 deaths linked to synthetic drug use showed a major spike in New Zealand.

First Hand - Changing Minds

Television, 1992 (Full Length Episode)

Mental health care is profiled in this 1992 episode of First Hand. Wayne Hussey is a member of the South Auckland Community Treatment Team, who is followed over the course of a day seeing his patients. They vary from a young woman struggling with bipolar disorder, to a woman living with schizophrenia, and a man who has adapted to independent life in the community. Kingseat Psychiatric Hospital becomes the voluntary home of one patient. The hospital was closed in 1999, and parts of the complex were controversially used for haunted house attraction Spookers.

Series

Shortland Street

Television, 1992–ongoing

Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an inner city Auckland hospital. The long-running South Pacific Pictures production is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week. In 2017 the show was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary, making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture — starting with “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!” in the very first episode. Mihi Murray writes about Shortland Street here.

Diagnosis: Death

Film, 2009 (Excerpts)

Featuring a rare star turn by stand-up comedian Raybon Kan (who also co-wrote the script), Diagnosis: Death is a genre-stretching tale of oddball nurses, haunted hospitals and bedside romance. Kan plays a cynical teacher sharing a hospital ward with a young student (Jessica Grace Smith), after both are diagnosed with cancer. Trapped in the ward during an experimental drug trial, the duo investigate a strange case of haunting. Shot specifically for DVD, Jason Stutter's second feature also features cameos by Conchords Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie, and Rhys Darby.

The James Gang Rides Again

Television, 1990 (Excerpts)

New Zealand's much-loved comedian and entertainer Billy T James tells the story of his heart transplant operation at Greenlane Hospital, in 1989, and his subsequent recovery. The documentary, much of which is filmed at the hospital (sometimes even from bed, as Billy re-enacts his operation) also features five other patients who he became close to over the months while they waited for their hearts. Entertaining as well as educational, the film includes a musical number with Max Cryer, dressed as a surgeon, joined in song by Billy and Don Selwyn.

Birth with Dr. R.D. Laing

Television, 1977 (Full Length)

Framed by the distinctive burr of influential Scottish thinker RD Laing, this 1977 doco questions how the Western medical system handles childbirth: in Laing's view, "one of the disaster areas of our culture." Supported by arresting hospital footage and impassioned interviews with mothers, the film argues that women are often deliberately sidelined during the process of birth, and babies' needs ignored. Screenings in the UK and US saw it contributing to a debate about newborn care; one that remains ongoing. Birth won a Feltex award for best documentary.

Seven Sharp - Peter Posa

Television, 2015 (Excerpts)

Instrumental track ‘White Rabbit’ made Peter Posa a household name in the 60s — the success of the two minute guitar solo led to US recordings and meetings with Frank Sinatra and Chet Atkins. In 2012 a best of compilation debuted atop the NZ album chart, and later became the year’s biggest selling release. This May 2015 Seven Sharp piece sees Hadyn Jones head to Waikato Hospital to interview “New Zealand’s greatest guitar player”. Jones discovers that a stroke appears to have ended the 74-year-old pensioner's guitar playing; but it has also liberated him from depression.