In the days before 24-hour television, there was Goodnight Kiwi, a short animation from Sam Harvey that bade viewers goodnight once the day's broadcasting ended. Each night the plucky Kiwi shut up shop at the TV station, put out the milk, and caught the lift up to sleep in a satellite dish with The Cat. For a generation of kids, Goodnight Kiwi became a much-loved symbol of staying up well past your bedtime. Viewers never questioned why our nocturnal national icon was going to bed at night, or sharing a bed with a cat. The tune is an arrangement of Māori lullaby 'Hine e Hine'.
This beautifully shot documentary is a social and architectural history of the great NZ bach (or crib, for those south of the Waitaki). Maggie Barry tracks their evolution from workers’ cottages to a fully fledged icon in danger of extinction: as the blind eye turned by councils that made them possible becomes a thing of the past, and the coastline becomes too valuable to allow ‘just anyone’ to erect a shack on it. The Kiwi spirit that created the building is celebrated. The bach enthusiasts interviewed include Sam Hunt, Keri Hulme, Karl Stead and Rawiri Paratene.
Gregor Nicholas explores the outer edges of obsession in this deliciously fruity comedy. The syncopated medley of music, strange noises and varied eccentrics doing their special thing shares similarities with a fondly-recalled scene in cult film Delicatessen; though Delicatessen was yet to emerge when this short film first debuted. Rushes played in multiple festivals, including the prestigious Clermont-Ferrand. The soundtrack is by ex Techtones guitarist Steve Roach. Director Nicholas followed this with another oddball romp: his feature debut User Friendly.
In the summer of 2007-2008 freelance photographer Jessie Casson and her family embarked on a road trip around New Zealand in a classic caravan (which threatened to fall apart along the way), to compile a book and accompanying documentary on some of our less-celebrated champions. Among them are gumboot throwers, an A&P show baker, naked Nelson cyclists, a shepherd, a singer, a family of champion woodchoppers, a Cromwell cherry spitter, Hokitika coal shovellers and lamb shearing record holder Emily Welch, who sheared 642 lambs in nine hours.
In 1986 Footrot Flats: The Dog's (Tail) Tale and its theme song ‘Slice of Heaven’ were huge hits in New Zealand and Australia. The adaptation of Murray Ball's beloved Footrot Flats comic strip marked Aotearoa's first animated feature. There were a lot of big questions to answer: Will Wal become an All Black? Will Cooch recover his stolen stag? Will the Dog win your hearts and funny bones? Punters answered at the box office. This John Toon-shot trailer doubled as a promo for the Dave Dobbyn-Herbs song, and smartly leveraged both. Tony Hiles writes about the film's making here.
The Marching Girls is the seven-part story of a Taita social marching team who decide to have a crack at the North Island Championships. As she writes here, actor/writer Fiona Samuel created the pioneering series out of frustration over a lack of challenging female roles: she declared it was about time the Kiwi "alienated macho dickhead" shared some screen time with women. Synth-rock soundtracks, ghetto blasters, Holden Kingswood taxis and chain-smoking abound in this feminist Flashdance in formation 80s classic.
In this tribute to veteran broadcaster Angela D'Audney — broadcast soon after her death in 2002 — colleagues and friends recall her tenacity and confidence. After nearly 40 years working in television, D'Audney earned the title of New Zealand's "first lady of broadcasting". D'Audney was 18 when she joined the NZ Broadcasting Corporation as an announcer in 1962; she went onto become one of the country's first female TV newsreaders. She recalls losing jobs, the thrill of reading live news and the scandal she faced when she appeared topless in 1982 TV drama The Venus Touch.
This TVNZ show explores 90s grand designs, and the people who live in them. This episode from the fourth season sees Dave Cull quizzing husband and wife architect team Colin and Lindy Leuschke on the challenges of designing their Parnell home, and checks out a pimped up house trailer inspired by technology show Beyond 2000. Jude Dobson visits a Kiwiana classic: Fred and Myrtle Flutey's Bluff paua shell home; and Jim Hickey meets a Remuera reproduction antique importer. The opening titles are a showcase of computer graphics from the era.
Formed in 1993 by Jody Lloyd and Eli Foley, Christchurch hip hop group Dark Tower were notable for rapping in New Zealand accents, and sampling NZ TV and folk music: a kiwiana point of difference to the ‘urban pasifika’ dominant influence in local hip hop. Listener critic Nick Bollinger wrote, "Dark Tower are on a mission to remind us who we are". 2001 LP Canterbury Drafts was nominated for NZ hip hop album of the year; their biggest hit was 2000 single 'Baggy Trousers', which spawned a cult Blair Witch inspired video. Lloyd also works under the moniker Trillion.
This wryly-titled 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. It was the first series from production company Communicado. Presenters included mayor Tim Shadbolt, Neil Roberts, future Green-MP Sue Kedgley and rugby writer Phil Gifford. This highlights and bloopers episode from the first series, includes crayfish hypnotism, obese cats, a wind-turbine powered catamaran, dancing cows, and Gifford as a Gorillagram.