The iconic all-things-rural show is the longest running programme on New Zealand television. With its typical patient observational style (that allows stories of people and the land to gently unfold) it’s an unlikely broadcasting star, but New Zealanders continue, after 50 plus years, to tune in. Amongst the bucolic tales of farming, fishing and forestry, there are high country musters, floods, organic brewing, falconry, tobacco farming, as well as a fencing wire-playing farmer-musician, a radio-controlled dog, and Fred Dagg and the Trevs.
Staunch follows the politicisation of Ariana (Once Were Warriors’ Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell) a young Māori woman who’s run into trouble with the law. Guided by a sympathetic social worker (Tamati Patuwai) she defends herself against assault charges following a police raid on her home. The Auckland-set TV3 drama was inspired by fact, and co-written by director Keith Hunter and playwright Toa Fraser; it won multiple gongs at the 2002 NZ TV Awards. Staunch was an early screen credit for Fraser (director of feature films No. 2, Dean Spanley, and ballet doco Giselle).
The often controversial beliefs of Sir Lloyd Geering, New Zealand’s best known theologian, are examined in this Top Shelf documentary. In this excerpt he visits Jerusalem to argue that the resurrection of Jesus shouldn't be interpreted literally. Forty years earlier, this assertion divided the Presbyterian Church (where he was Principal of Knox College) and led to his heresy trial on charges of “doctrinal error and disturbing the peace of the church”. There is archive footage of an unrepentant Geering from the two-day trial, which was broadcast live by the NZ Broadcasting Corporation.
Leading criminal barrister and QC Mike Bungay offers a lawyer’s perspective on nine of New Zealand’s most notable police investigations and criminal trials, in this series of dramatised documentaries. In each episode, Bungay explores a different legal theme and they include circumstantial evidence, forensics, immunity deals and the validity of confessions. Featured cases include the Margaret Bell 'Mainstreet' murder, the disappearance of Milton Harris, Karl Sim’s Goldie forgeries and the William Sutch espionage trial. Mike Bungay died in 1993.
Award-winning singer and actor Annie Whittle has tried most things in the entertainment business and has been successful at all of them. She has appeared in a range of home-grown TV shows including A Week of It, The Makutu on Mrs Jones, The Billy T James Show, Heartland, Shortland Street, and Outrageous Fortune. She has also graced the silver screen in the feature films Trial Run and The World’s Fastest Indian.
In the second episode of Krafthaus' award-winning interactive web series, Beth's mum convinces her to give school a two-week trial after a nightmarish first day in which Beth (Beth Chote) discovered she was a dead ringer for missing schoolgirl (and everyone's worst enemy) Tara. But her classmates are every bit as kooky as the day before. After school, she meets friendly girl racer Sammy (Greer Samuel) then hottie Matt (Tim Kano). But just as the town and its folk seem almost normal, Beth is confronted by a sinister gang.
One night in his early 20s, John Hanlon was nudged into playing some songs at a party. A recording studio owner was listening in, and so a star was born. Hanlon won the APRA Silver Scroll Award in 1974 and 75, plus a host of RATA awards, including Songwriter of the Year three years running. ‘Damn the Dam’ became a protest classic, despite its birth as a Pink Batts radio jingle; 1974 hit ‘Lovely Lady’ got to number one. 'Higher Trials' accompanied the airborne climax of Oscar-nominated adventure film Off the Edge (1977). Soon after, growing weary of replaying the hits, Hanlon concentrated on his advertising career.
Nothing Trivial followed the lives and loves of five friends in their 30s and 40s, who compete in a weekly pub quiz. In this first 10 minutes of the debut episode, the Sex on a Stick team — played by Shane Cortese, Tandi Wright, Nicole Whippy, Debbie Newby-Ward and Blair Strang — gather at The Beagle to wrestle with John Wayne Bobbit trivia, and the trials of nearing middle age. The show was created by Rachel Lang and Gavin Stawhan (Go Girls). In the background piece, Lang explains how the show came to be, and argues Kiwis could give its professional actors more credit.
The second season of web series Dislawderly sees outspoken law student Audrey facing love and student elections, and preparing for a moot (a mock trial). Series creator and real life law student Georgia Rippin (who also stars) used responses from the law school’s 2016 gender survey to frame her storylines — like female students being chided for speaking in a high pitch in the courtroom. Dislawderly's mockery of sexism proved timely. The second season dropped two months after a scandal over how female student clerks had been treated at a major New Zealand law firm.
Journalist Kim Webby's Price of Peace is a portrait of Tūhoe activist Tame Iti, whose family Webby has known for 20 plus years. After the 2007 police raids, Iti was one of four to go on trial, accused of plotting terrorist activities. Webby’s film ranges widely from early land grievances to modern-day jail cells — and a police apology. NZ Herald reviewer Peter Calder praised the result for balancing a personal focus on Iti, with “a powerfully affecting” examination of the 2007 raids, which placed the raids in "the wider context of Tūhoe history and the process of reconciliation”.