New Zealand Mirror was an National Film Unit 'magazine-film' series geared towards the British market. Accompanied by nationalistic, upbeat narration, this first episode covers 'New Zealand Birds', and efforts to harness "Rotorua's Natural Heat". It visits a game park to see Kiwi ("definitely queer birds") where, in a Disney-esque scene, two children meet a one-legged Kiwi with a bamboo peg-leg; and boats over to Kāpiti Island to meet rockhopper penguin, tui, kaka and weka. In Rotorua, geothermal cooking, backyard geysers, and heated baths and pools are explored.
Two presenters are tricked into visiting Rotorua in the fourth series of Māori youth magazine show I AM TV. Host Taupunakohe Tocker excitedly tells Kimo Holtham and Chey Milne they are being sent to Las Vegas, but instead they end up in 'Rotovegas'. Holtham and Milne tour around Rotorua diving for coins at Whakarewarewa Village, eating corn cooked in geothermal water, and meeting locals, including musician JJ Rika. Tocker interviews Tiki Taane and ropes pedestrians in to do air guitar, while Stan Walker shows what it's like backstage at his Auckland concert.
This Māori Television hit offers a down-home NZ Idol mixed with a little Fear Factor, as off the street talents sing three rounds of karaoke and try to win $1000. Hosts Te Hamua Nikora (Homai Te Pakipaki) and Luke Bird (The Stage - Haka Fusion) coax Lagitoa from Papatoetoe, Samantha from Pakuranga and Renee from Rotorua to belt out their favourite song. The show’s stripped back style allows lots of space for audience reactions (this time at Rotorua's night markets, and in Pakuranga). With encouragements in te reo and English, the contestants feel the fear and sing anyway.
This 1979 episode of Pacific Viewpoint features Guide Bubbles — aka Dorothy Huhana Mihinui— who showed guests around Rotorua's hot pools at Whakarewarewa for close to half a century. She talks about how tourism has changed at the pools over the years, and reminisces about famed guides Rangi and Bella. At the time of the interview Mihinui was the senior guide, having been promoted after Rangi’s passing in 1970. After her 1985 retirement she was made an MBE, then a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. The beloved guide died in June 2006.
This award-winning short revolves around a Māori women’s rugby team. Rising star Phoenix (newcomer Ngawaea Taia) has to negotiate motherhood, her mateship with the crusty old coach (veteran Roy Billing), and her feelings for the captain (Maria Walker). Directed by Tim Worrall, and filmed in his Rotorua hometown, the short was one of six selected by director Christine Jeffs for 'New Zealand’s Best' at the 2015 NZ International Film Festival. Jeffs praised the film as "realistic and full of feeling". Worrall won Best Short Script at the 2015 SWANZ (NZ Writers Guild) Awards.
“The big ALL FUN show for the whole family to enjoy!” said the ads for this musical comedy, which was one of only two Kiwi features made in the 1960s. Moving from Sydney to a Rotorua music festival, it follows the romance between a lively drummer (Gary Wallace) and Judy (Carmen Duncan), and the hurdles they face to stay true. That's only an excuse for a melange of madcap musical fun. Made by John O’Shea for Pacific Films, the movie featured performers Howard Morrison (who sings in this excerpt), Lew Pryme and Kiri Te Kanawa, plus distinctive graphics by artist Pat Hanly.
In this second part of Kia Ora Bonjour Sir Howard Morrison continues his exploration of France — plus an early Kiwi French connection. Back in Rotorua he welcomes Les Bleus (the French rugby team), teaches them about the haka, and looks back at Marion du Fresne’s first, fatal contact with Māori in 1772. In France Morrison checks out Bordeaux wines, takes a spa in Dax, goes fishing in multicultural Marseille, takes a TGV fast train, and cruises Paris in a Citroën. The Kiwi production was made for TV3, to mark the bicentennial of the French Revolution.
Crush is a tale of simmering sexuality set in Rotorua. Moral or sexual ambiguity pervades the narrative of conflicted desire. Its mix of blocked-up writer, spurting mud-pools, infatuated teen, eel farm, American femme fatale (Marcia Gay Harden), noir motels, limp pongas and wheelchairs, plays out in a symbolic NZ landscape not seen before (or since). Director Alison Maclean's debut feature (which she co-wrote with Anne Kennedy) played in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.
Champion shearer Godfrey Bowen returns to Akers station at Opiki, Manawatu where he set a world record in 1953 by shearing 456 sheep in nine hours (shown in archive footage). He shows off his biceps (not far from the 23 inches they used to be) and explains the Bowen Technique which revolutionised shearing by reducing the number of blows required to remove a fleece. Bowen talks about how his life changed (travelling the world and an MBE) and there's footage of Agrodome with its trained sheep, which he opened in Rotorua, with his brother Ivan.
Promoter Joe Brown’s Search for Stars was a popular nationwide talent quest, broadcast on radio by Selwyn Toogood. This 1970 report from Living in New Zealand sees future TV executive Ernie Leonard interviewing entrants, during rehearsals at Rotorua’s Summer Carnival (including a young Tom Sharplin). Then it’s the 12 January grand final at the city's Sportsdome. Second place getter is 16-year-old Bunny Walters (who would go on to television fame, and score hits with 'Brandy' and 'Take the Money and Run'). Tui Fox won first prize: $2,000, and a recording contract with Brown.