It's Wellington in the 1970s and Bob (Jeremy Stephens) is having a midlife crisis. Square-peg Graham (Bill Johnson, who later played Mr Wilberforce in Under the Mountain) tries to convince Bob to quit his bohemian lifestyle (and his lover/muse Carol) and return to his wife Jean. But is Graham really acting in his mate's best interests? Featuring a young Sam Neill as the epitome of handsome, unfettered youth (flared jeans, bushy beard) this early, well-received TV drama was one of several produced by the NZ Broadcasting Corporation to tackle 'difficult' contemporary issues.
On Christmas Eve 1953 a volcanic eruption caused a massive lahar to flow down Whangaehu River. The Wellington-Auckland express crossed the rail bridge at Tangiwai minutes later; it collapsed, and carriages plunged into the flooded river. Out of 285 people, 151 died, in New Zealand's worst rail accident. This 2002 documentary examines events and the board of inquiry finding that the accident was an act of God. This excerpt attacks the story that Cyril Ellis could have warned the train driver what lay ahead, and argues there was a railways department cover-up at the board of inquiry.
Jam TV is a boutique production company owned and run by Melanie Rakena and Jane Andrews. The duo met while working at TVNZ and formed the company to make Intrepid Journeys, the long-running TV ONE show that took local personalities out of their comfort zones and into challenging locations around the globe. Jam has also produced a range of other well-received factual series including Off the Rails, ICE, South, and Off the Radar, as well as the documentary Our Lost War.
This 2011 TV One series sees wry but winning host Marcus Lush explore the North Island from Auckland up. Jafa Lush said his motivations were to "see where I was from, what I liked and didn't like and what had changed." The Herald’s Deborah Hill Cone praised the show for its "gorgeous" cinematography (by Jacob Bryant), and for making everyday Kiwi characters look "otherworldly and cinematic and heroic". The series was another successful collaboration between JAM TV and host Marcus Lush, adding to Off the Rails, ICE, and lauded 2009 sister series South.
Christmas Eve 1953: Cricketer Bob Blair (Ryan O'Kane) is in South Africa, days away from batting for New Zealand. His fiancée Nerissa Love (Maddigan's Quest's Rose McIver) is boarding an ill-fated train, which in this excerpt will plunge into the Whangaehu River at Tangiwai, in the country's worst rail disaster. The Dominion Post's Linda Burgess found this TV movie retelling of the tragic romance "first-rate", noting "consistently excellent" performances from O'Kane, McIver, and Miranda Harcourt as Nerissa's wary mother. Tangiwai won four NZ TV awards, including best cinematography.
The first instalment of this two part documentary chronicles the effects of Christchurch’s September 2010 earthquake on a variety of everyday people. They have seen damage to their city they would never have imagined, houses have been destroyed, liquefaction has entered their vocabulary and the ground beneath their feet can no longer be trusted. Miraculously, there has been no loss of life. As seismologists seek to understand what happened, the interviewees tentatively rebuild disrupted lives, but the fatal quakes of 22 February cruelly derail that recovery.
In 2012 a number of state houses were relocated from Glen Innes in Auckland to Kaitaia, making way for property developers. A Place to Call Home follows two women at odds with each other, both railing for positive change. Betty Kanuta is an evicted tenant, leading protests against the destruction of her community. Fleur Palmer is purchasing some of the state houses to build a Māori housing development, to help poor families in Kaitaia. Director Briar March's documentary debuted on Māori Television in 2014 as Whare Tapa Whā, before being expanded into a feature-length cut.
This teleplay from writer Greg McGee is a satire of prejudice and the market economy set in the grey, divisive atmosphere of early 1980s New Zealand. Kate Harcourt plays the proprietor of Dot's Terminal Cafe, a cantankerous spinster who rails against 'bludgers' and 'foreigners'. One rain-soaked Wellington night, her lumpen clientele decide to stage a small but telling uprising — with the help of a dead mouse. It screened in early 1982, following the breakout success of McGee’s confrontational take on Kiwi conformity: rugby player losing-his-religion play Foreskin’s Lament.
The artists profiled in this edition of the TVNZ Māori show share a heritage and the vicissitudes of life as professional musicians, but their fields and approaches to making music differ markedly. Entertainer Bunny Walters is rebuilding a career that became derailed after initial success with his hit 'Brandy'. Opera singer Richard Haeata is looking to make his way in a largely Pākehā world which he finds alienating in its individuality. And singer-songwriter Mahinārangi Tocker celebrates her gender and Māori identity but has little use for the music industry.
With her long flowing hair, Allison Durbin was NZ's late 60s Queen of Pop. A recording artist from the age of 14, she had her biggest hit with 'I Have Loved Me a Man' in 1968. It spent two weeks at the top of the local charts and was the year's Loxene Golden Disc winner. By 1969, Durbin was based permanently in Melbourne where she won Australia's best female artist award for three years running. As the 70s progressed, she moved into country and western but her singing career was derailed by drug addiction and a 12 month prison sentence in 2007.