Showcase was a popular mid 90s TVNZ talent quest, in which broadcaster Ian Fraser hosted a search "to find the very best" emerging musical talent. Filmed at Avalon Studios, this viewers' final from 1996 sees nine finalists compete for the public phone vote (there was a separate studio judges’ final). Songs range from Stevie Wonder and Sister Sledge covers to classical standards. Shona Laing, who got her break on a TV talent show, guest performs. Competitor Shaun Dixon went on to train under Pavarotti, and married another finalist from this episode, fellow opera singer Tania Brand.
Hitting television screens in 1961, just a year after the launch of regular TV services in New Zealand, this 30 minute talent show was spawned from Ian Watkins’ popular radio show (on which he memorably used a gun to signal the end of performances). Initially screening on Auckland channel AKTV-2, it became a national talent quest in 1962, with auditions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The following year, 30,000+ viewers used postal voting. Have a Shot was a noted platform for new amateur talent. After a four year run, it was replaced by New Faces.
The Grand Final of this 1996 musical talent quest series Showcase was hosted by Ian Fraser. The nine finalists perform songs from Mozart on guitar, to 'Everything’s Gonna Be Alright'. The opening act is Akustik Fungi: Jason Kerrison, one half of the duo, would later find fame as singer for chart-topping band Opshop, and return the favour as a judge on New Zealand’s Got Talent. The Showcase judges are Sir Howard Morrison, actor Rima Te Wiata, Dame Malvina Major (who performs) and Eddie Rayner (who got his break on TV talent show New Faces, while part of Split Enz).
Debuting on TV Four as Tūmeke in 1999, children's show Pūkana was pioneering in its use of te reo. Given a new title when it moved to TV3 in its second year, it later began an epic run on Māori Television. Taking contemporary kids' culture cues, Pūkana features game shows, send-ups, talent quests and music. It emphasises ‘street’ rather than marae-style language. Made by company Cinco Cine, it has won three awards for best show in its category, and two nominations for children’s programme. Past presenters include Mātai Smith, Quinton Hita and Te Hamua Nikora.
Described by writer John Dix as "New Zealand's first television pop idol", Mr Lee Grant won hysterical fans while making regular appearances on 60s music show C'Mon, after winning a radio talent quest. Loxene Golden Disc winner 'Thanks to You' was one of three Grant singles to top the local charts. Born as Bogdan Kominowski to Polish parents in a WWII concentration camp, he reverted to his birth name after relocating to the United Kingdom. His acting career includes a minor part in 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill, and the starring role on an Australasian tour of Phantom of the Opera.
New Zealand’s first global pop success story made one of its earliest screen appearances on this TV talent quest. The episodes are no longer preserved, but a family friend of the Finns pointed his Super 8 camera at the television screen. The clips are combined with the band’s memories from 2005 radio documentary Enzology. Split Ends (the ‘z’ came later) competed in the 18 November heat with ‘129’, and a week later in the final, miming ‘Sweet Talking Spoon Song’. They lost to Wellington's Bulldogs Allstar Goodtime Band, with a pre-Simon Cowell Phil Warren judging the lads “too clever”.
Singer Marina Devcich had been working as an apprentice hairdresser when she won a Waikato talent quest. A signing to Viking Records and a name change to Maria Dallas followed. ‘Tumblin’ Down’ was written by Taranaki musician Jay Epae, and recorded at a session in Wellington. It went to 11 in the pop charts and won the 1966 Loxene Golden Disc Award. Later the song was used to score a series of Telecom ads in the mid-80s. Dallas recorded in Nashville, moved to Australia and had a trans-Tasman career — her single ‘Pinocchio’ topped the NZ charts in 1970.
This all-singing, all-dancing variety show is remembered as one of NZ TV’s great fiascos (along with Melody Rules). Presenters Glyn Tucker and Ernie Leonard had light entertainment experience, but were better known for their expertise in horse racing and wrestling respectively. Broadcast live on Saturday night, The Club Show aspired to be the TV equivalent of an RSA talent quest — but not even the geniality of its hosts could save it. It did have ‘The Silver Shot’ — an early attempt at interactivity via a viewer on the phone and a blindfolded cameraman.
The name suggests a 1950s vocal group but The Katene Sisters were the brief creation of a storyline on TV soap Shortland Street. With a talent quest in the offing, it emerged that Nurse Jackie Manu (Nancy Brunning) had been in a girl group with two cousins. One cousin appeared (played by Annie Crummer) but Nurse Carrie Burton (Lisa Crittenden) stood in for the other. The new Katene Sisters didn’t win the contest but their song ‘Keeping Up That Love Thing’ (penned by Crummer and ex-Holidaymaker Barbara Griffin) reached number three in the charts in 1993.
Ardijah's origins lay in a South Auckland nightclub where, in 1980, bass player Ryan Monga spotted singer (and future wife) Betty-Ann at a talent quest. By the late 80s the band's sweet poly funk sound had staked its place in New Zealand's musical landscape, with popular tracks like 'Time Makes a Wine', 'Jammin' and 'Watchin' U'. Numerous accolades and albums have followed and Ardijah have continued to tour their brand of contemporary Aotearoa r'n'b.