Documentary series The New Zealand Wars reframed Kiwi history. Researched and presented by historian James Belich, it examined armed conflict between Māori and Pākehā. The show gripped the country when it screened in 1998— including Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy. In this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday, she recalls how the show changed her perception: "I thought I knew New Zealand history, and I didn't." Director Tainui Stephens talks about how the series provided a Māori perspective mixed with "intellectual Pākehā rigour" and "a lot of aroha".
Independent television network TV3 launched its prime time news bulletin on 27 November 1989, a day after the channel first went to air. Veteran broadcaster Philip Sherry anchors a reporting team that includes future politician Tukoroirangi Morgan (probing kiwi poaching), Ian Wishart (investigating traffic cop-dodging speedsters) and future newsroom boss Mark Jennings (torture in Timaru). Belinda Todd handles the weather, and Janet McIntyre reports on TV3's launch. The Kiwi cricket team faces defeat in Perth (although history will record a famous escape there).
Visionary educationalist and novelist Sylvia Ashton-Warner is interviewed by leading educationalist of the day, Jack Shallcrass, in this documentary about her life and work. From her home in Tauranga the film explores her educational philosophies (“organic teaching” and her “drive to diffuse the impulse to kill”) and her “divided life” between woman and artist, as she plays piano and interacts with children. It is the only interview she ever made for television, and was the first of the Three New Zealanders documentaries made to mark International Women's Year.
National treasures The Topp Twins (aka twins Lynda and Jools Topp) have performed as a country-music singing and yodelling comedy duo for more than 25 years. In the late 90s they created their own TV series which ran for three seasons and showcased their iconic cast of Kiwi characters, including Camp Mother, the Bowling Ladies and cross-dressing Ken and Ken. The series, travelling from a Highland Games to a Tauranga triathlon, won the twins - out-and-proud lesbians - several gongs at the NZ Film and TV Awards and screened on the ABC and Foxtel in Australia.
The final episode of the first season of this colonial comedy tackles the Treaty, as settler Henry Vole argues that his land (purchased off a bloke he met at a bar in Tauranga) is fairly his. The pros and cons of a treaty are debated: “where all Māori may benefit from the administration that gave us the 18 hour working day for children”. Te Tutu counters with a Martin Luther King dream: “where the English are not marginalised in Aotearoa simply because they are a minority … where the English language won’t be lost because we’ll have Pākehā language nests …”
Bilingual Māori singer Ria Hall (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Te Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Waikato) was born in Tauranga and has a background in kapa haka. She fronted reggae band Hope Road and has been a live backing vocalist for Hollie Smith and Trinity Roots. Hall describes her own music as "roots/neo-soul". She sang the Rugby World Cup anthem at the 2011 opening ceremony; the following year her self-titled album was named album of the year at the NZ Music Awards.
In April 2011, singer Tiki Taane was handcuffed, arrested and spent a night in the cells after performing a number by American rappers NWA as police visited his performance at Tauranga’s Illuminati club. The charges were later dropped and Taane remained resolutely unapologetic. This defiant song, recorded a month later at the same venue, is his musical response to the ordeal. Armed only with an acoustic guitar — the protest singer’s weapon of choice — he asserts his refusal to be silenced while firing a broadside at police, the media and politicians.
Using the power of documentary film Frank Chilton made a difference to the lives of disabled children in New Zealand and around the world. The films he directed for the National Film Unit won many awards and he was honoured by the Queen with an OBE for services to the handicapped.
Tim Balme burst onto the big screen as the hapless young man fighting off zombies with lawnmowers, in Peter Jackson's Braindead. He went on to roles on TV's Mercy Peak, Shortland Street and Maddigan's Quest, alongside gigs as a writer (Outrageous Fortune) and time as Head of Development for South Pacific Pictures.
Television veteran Robert Boyd-Bell's eclectic screen career includes 14 years in journalism, followed by time in academia, public service TV, and producing. Which is not to forget writing landmark book New Zealand Television – The First 25 Years. Boyd-Bell joined the state broadcaster in 1965, and later headed TV One's northern newsroom. He also has an extensive involvement in delivering programmes online.