The concept behind 2016 Māori Television talent show The Stage: Haka Fusion was to combine traditional kapa haka with contemporay dance disciplines like hip hop and ballet. Contestants competed for a prize purse of $50,000. Produced in-house by Māori TV, Haka Fusion was fronted by Rotorua actor and teacher Kimo Houltham. The first series was won by World Champion hip hop dance crew Identity Dance Company. They were given a wild card lifeline into the finals by the four judges, after their initial routine failed to meet the show’s criteria: it didn’t feature enough kapa haka!
Chris Huriwai and Sam La Hood are both world champions in street unicycling. What they do takes courage and confidence — and not just the unicycling. As vegan animal rights activists, they regularly face those who disagree with them, as they form a “cube of truth” with other activists, standing in black, and playing video of animal rights abuses on laptop screens. The pair take the time to explain why they protest — Huriwai’s rural background and their connection to tikanga Māori are key factors — and note that while some take offence, the majority are welcoming.
In this excerpt from the final of the fourth season of Dancing with the Stars, two contestants remain: Silver Ferns netballer Temepara Bailey (then known as Temepara George), and Kiwis rugby league player Monty Betham. The clip recaps Bailey’s path to the final — including a netball injury scare — and showcases her foxtrot with dance partner Stefano Olivieri. Then it’s over to the judges to rate how the former World Netball Champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist has performed on the dance floor. Bailey would go on to win the season.
Tim Porch (Josh Thomson) aspires to be the world’s first Polynesian badminton champion — but a Samoan has already taken the title, so Tongan will have to do. This mockumentary following the ups and downs of his quest won the 2006 48 Hours film making competition. Entrants that year were required to include a mirror, a character called Robin Slade, an eternal optimist, and the line “that’s what I’m talking about”. The team behind it, thedownlowconcept, would go on to win the contest again in 2010 — and pick up a couple of NZ Film Awards in the process — with their short Only Son.
All Black great Grant Fox is given the big red book in this award-winning episode of This is Your Life. The first five-eighth’s record points tally and marshalling of stars like John Kirwan made the playmaker a key cog in the 1987 Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks and champion Auckland teams. His distinctive goal-kicking ritual became as reassuring as a metronome for fans. The diminutive Auckland Grammar old boy meets family and teammates, discusses discipline and his single All Blacks try, and gets busted by coach John Hart. Fox would become an All Blacks selector.
The last drama to be made in-house by TVNZ, The Champion was written by author Maurice Gee at the behest of producer Ginette McDonald after the success of their collaboration on The Fire-Raiser. Set in Henderson, West Auckland over three weeks in early 1943, it centres on 12 year old Rex (Milan Borich — later the lead singer in Pluto) and a black American GI billeted with his family. This tough, accomplished drama looks unflinchingly at racism and prejudice — both imported and local — and is ample testimony to the skills of its writer, cast and crew.
This 80s precursor to Dancing with the Stars put the competitive community spirit of Top Town onto the dancefloor, as ballroom dancers representing different regions twirled and dipped for supremacy. Created by Ron Pledger (a longtime TVNZ go-to person for major event TV — Top Town, This is Your Life, Anzac Day broadcasts), the concept was inspired by Pledger’s wife, a champion Latin American dancer who had connections in the ballroom dancing world. Top Dance ran for three seasons.
"New Zealand congratulates Peter Snell, one of the fastest men in the world." Middle distance runner Snell sets two world records on the grass track at Lancaster Park, Christchurch, in the 800 yards and half mile. "I was almost horrified at the pace ... I was had it by the time I reached the back straight ... I just went on on the thought of that world record." He reflects on a relaxing trip to Milford Sound, and champion coach Arthur Lydiard is interviewed. Also featured is the 1962 swimming champs at Naenae Olympic Pool under floodlights.
Champion shearer Godfrey Bowen returns to Akers station at Opiki, Manawatu where he set a world record in 1953 by shearing 456 sheep in nine hours (shown in archive footage). He shows off his biceps (not far from the 23 inches they used to be) and explains the Bowen Technique which revolutionised shearing by reducing the number of blows required to remove a fleece. Bowen talks about how his life changed (travelling the world and an MBE) and there's footage of Agrodome with its trained sheep, which he opened in Rotorua, with his brother Ivan.
After days of elaborate subterfuge, host Bob Parker, with his trademark red book, ambushes champion middle distance runner John Walker at a dinner at Trillos nightclub. A week earlier, Walker had become the first person to run 100 sub-four minute miles. Parker leads him through a career that also includes his mile world record, the epic 1974 Commonwealth Games 1,500 metres final and Olympic gold at Montreal in 1976. Those paying pay tribute in person or via satellite include athletics superstars Filbert Bayi, Sebastian Coe, Steve Scott and Peter Snell.