November 2019 marks 30 years since New Zealand television’s third channel first went to air. As this collection makes clear, the channel has highlighted a wide range of local content, from genre-stretching drama (Outrageous Fortune, The Almighty Johnsons) to upstart news shows (Nightline), youth programming (Ice TV, Being Eve) and many landmarks of Kiwi screen comedy (7 Days, bro’Town, Pulp Comedy). As the launch slogan said, "come home to the feeling!" In this background piece, Phil Wakefield ranges from across the years, from early days to awards triumph in 2019.
Actor Bruno Lawrence rounds out a handful (Buck, Billy T, The Topps, Crumpy) of Kiwi icons who have achieved sufficient mana to be recognised by an abbreviated name. His charisma was key to ground-breaking films, Smash Palace, The Quiet Earth and Utu. Jack Nicholson reputedly had Bruno envy. This collection celebrates his inimitable performances and life.
Great adverts are strange things: mini works of magic, with the power to make viewers smile, cry, and even buy. Kiwi directors have shown such a knack for making them, they've been invited to do so across the globe. But this collection is about local favourites; dogs on skateboards, choc bar robberies, ghost chips. NZ On Screen's Irene Gardiner backgrounds the top 10 here.
Rock’s wild man hits Wellington (and unfortunate bystander Rosie Langley) in this lip-synched version of single 'I’m Bored'. Filmed by a Radio with Pictures crew when Iggy Pop made a promotional visit to New Zealand in July 1979, the clip shows the legendary singer acting up around Parliament, and at a pub reception attended by local media personalities (including Roger Gascoigne). It’s an uncomfortable experience for some as Iggy pulls all his stage moves among the straight-faced (and partly straight-laced) crowd. The trip was promoting his third solo album New Values.
The bid to raise the level of Fiordland’s Lake Manapōuri (to provide hydro-electricity for an aluminum smelter) resulted in controversy between 1959 and 1972. This film charts a (still-timely) debate as arguments for industrial growth and cheap energy vie with views advocating for ecological values. New Zealand’s first large-scale environmental campaign ensued, and its “damn the dam” victory was a spur for the modern conservation movement — drawing an unprecedented petition, Forest and Bird, and figures like farmer Ron McLean and botanist Alan Mark into the fray.
The Insatiable Moon is the tale of a man with nothing but wisdom, joy and possibly a direct line to God. Arthur (Rawiri Paratene) wanders the streets of Ponsonby, where he finds perfection (Sara Wiseman) just as his community of boarding house friends faces threat. Producer Mike Riddell first wrote The Insatiable Moon as a 1997 novel, inspired by people he met while he was a clergyman in Ponsonby. The film’s extended development almost saw it made in England with Timothy Spall - before finally coming home, “on half a shoestring and a heap of passion”.
As part of the radical 80s neoliberal reform of the public and corporate sector in New Zealand, many government-run assets were turned into state owned enterprises; some were sold off to foreign buyers. Screening on TV3, this 1991 film, written by Metro columnist Bruce Jesson, examines the controversial programme by asking “who owns this country and who controls it?”. Those answering range from businesspeople to politicians, academics, journalists, vox pops and critics of the ‘cashing-in’, from the Hamilton Jet family to UK environmentalist Teddy Goldsmith.
This episode of the early 90s political chat show sees ringmaster Bill Ralston, lawyer Trevor de Cleene, RNZ political editor Richard Griffin, North & South editor Robyn Langwell and broadcaster Leighton Smith vigorously debating parliamentary filibusters; whether Kiwis are sexual puritans (in the wake of Nightline’s notorious '69-in-60' sex position broadcast); and whether NZ youth is a generation lost to sex, suicide and car crashes. Ralston argues “the wowsers are winning again”; Langwell correctly predicts the end of paper The Star, and Smith predicts a Wallabies win on Saturday.
A plain tale about the swollen secretions of suburban love. In middle class Auckland vulnerable passions break the surface as Laura (Meryl Main from Highwater) aggressively pursues love and acceptance, finding something very like it right next door. For director Niki Caro this one-hour drama was a watershed in her career. It was her ultimate drama production before embarking on a feature film career; it screened as part of the Montana Theatre series on TV One in 1995. Plain Tastes features Marton Csokas and Kate Harcourt. Producer Owen Hughes writes about Plain Tastes here.
English pastor John Catmur moved to New Zealand in 2007 after getting a "call from God". Working and living in South Auckland amongst a big Māori population, he was inspired to learn te reo. Says Catmur in this Loading Doc: "When I stood to speak a hunger was fulfilled within my heart. A hunger I never knew I had." Director Kayne Ngātokowhā Peters made this short te reo documentary to help change people's perceptions, so they could see the Māori language as a "valued treasure". Peters was a presenter on TVNZ channel Kidzone, before he did two years reporting for Marae.