Teen actors Nikki Si'ulepa and Toby Fisher won acclaim in Ian Mune's fourth feature as director. Si'ulepa plays a Samoan street kid who meets a well-off white teen, when both are facing mortality in a hospital ward. The co-production between NZ and Canada (where it debuted on cable TV) won over critics in both nations. "Si'ulepa dominates the camera and the action with a natural authority", raved Metro. Moon scooped the gongs at the 1996 TV Guide Awards (including for originating screenwriter Richard Lymposs); and won notice at Berlin and Giffoni film festivals.
Classic sci-fi TV series Under the Mountain follows the adventures of redheaded twins with psychic powers — Rachel and Theo — on their Auckland summer holiday. They meet the mysterious Mr Jones, an alien emissary who enlists them in the battle against the evil Wilberforces, who are plotting planetary destruction. Adapted from the Maurice Gee novel, the series' fx left their slimy imprint on a generation of NZ kids, haunted by the transmogrifying Wilberforces, who changed from humans into giant slugs slithering underneath Auckland’s volcanoes.
Biographer Michael King takes us through the life of pioneering writer Frank Sargeson: from puritanical parents to self-discovery in London, through to decades encouraging an emerging tide of New Zealand writers. The documentary’s most priceless moments are the tales told when four of those writers return to Sargeson’s fabled fibrolite bach, in Takapuna. Kevin Ireland calls it an “oasis, this marvellous place where books ruled supreme”. Sargeson’s purposefuly minimalistic writing style, the doco argues, helped NZ literature find its own voice.
Late 90s Flying Nun act The D4 are at their rambunctious best with this meditation on indecision in the face of endless possibilities from their second and final album. Director Wade Shotter’s one take video was made after one and a half days of rehearsals, and bravely shot on 35mm film (with the 10th take as the keeper). In a feat of engineering, logistics and timing, all of the action — cheerleaders, carnival strongmen, sets and backdrops — happened on stage (at Takapuna’s Bruce Mason Centre) and was captured in the camera with nothing added in post.
Ella Yelich-O’Connor was born in Takapuna in 1996 and raised on Auckland’s North Shore. Having shown a keen interest in performance as a child, she signed with Universal NZ while in her early teens and was paired with producer Joel Little. Her tale of suburban teenhood, 'Royals' (released mid-2013), became a massive breakout hit, topping the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. Her debut album Pure Heroine showcased her distinctive vocal style and cemented her global superstardom. Sophomore album Melodrama, recorded in NYC, was released in 2017, topping album charts worldwide including the US Billboard 200.
Like kids in a candy store, The Electric Confectionaires know no boundaries when it comes to making music. The Auckland four-piece stamped their mark while students at Takapuna Grammar, winning the 2005 secondary schools Rockquest competition with their eclectic all-sorts mix of rock, garage, blues and jazz. They became known as 'the band to watch' and their 2007 debut album Sweet Tooth, delivered on expectations with winning Beach-Boy-quality harmonies and bubblegum hooks.
'Lyin' in the Sand' closed Hello Sailor's self-titled debut album in 1977, the song's languid South Seas vibe providing respite after 'Gutter Black' and various guitars. Inspired by a spontaneous South Pacific parody from vocalist Graham Brazier one night, it was written by guitarist Harry Lyon after observing how Takapuna's smart set took their beach for granted. TVNZ filmed the band playing live in a Christchurch studio in 1978, just before the band set off to try to make it in LA. Lyon sings, so Brazier is absent; drummer Ricky Ball's hula confirms that the band’s tongue was in its chic.
The Screaming Meemees (named for a 1960s toy machine gun) formed at Rosmini College in Takapuna and were at the forefront of a post-punk wave of new bands from Auckland’s North Shore in the early 80s. The band’s first proper release ‘See Me Go’ became the first NZ single to enter the charts at No.1 (helped by pre-sales and delivery delays) and was immediately deleted. A massively popular live act, they recorded one album If This Is Paradise, I’ll Take the Bag (a nod to TV's It’s In The Bag game show) for the Propeller label but disbanded in 1983.
A documentary about author Janet Frame based on the eponymous biography by Michael King. It travels through the familiar Frame themes - her alleged mental illness, family tragedies, overseas stays, how she began writing. Its value, and fresh insight, lies in the interviews with Frame's close friends and key figures in her life. They shed light on her personality and achievements. King in particular provides a considered, often-amusing account of Frame's life. This was his last interview for film; he was killed in a car accident in 2004.
One of the earliest New Zealand women to work in movies, the late Hilda Hayward collaborated with her husband Rudall on four silent feature films in the 1920s. Author Deborah Shepard argues that her coverage of the 1932 Auckland riots make her New Zealand’s first known camerawoman. Hilda Hayward passed away in 1970.