NZ On Air began funding local content in 1989. Timing in with the launch of a new funding system, this collection looks back at the 20 most watched NZ On Air-funded programmes over the years (aside from news and sports). Ratings information is only available from 1995, so this is how things have shaped up from 1995 to 2016 — plus some bonus titles. Most of the Top 20 has been captioned. Ex NZ On Air exec Kathryn Quirk tells us here how the complete list rated, while original NZOA boss Ruth Harley remembers how it all began.
Māori Television hit the airwaves on 28 March 2004. This collection demonstrates how the network has staked its place as Aotearoa's indigenous broadcaster. The kete is overflowing with tasty morsels — from comedy, waiata, hunting and language learning, to award-winning coverage of Anzac Day. Māori Television HOD of Content Development Nevak Rogers backgrounds some MTS highlights here, while Tainui Stephens unravels the history of Māori on television here: choose from te reo and English versions of each backgrounder.
In 1985 Television New Zealand went all out to celebrate the 25th anniversary of local TV. Three specials marked the occasion. Two-parter 25 Years of Television was the most comprehensive: in part one, newsreader Dougal Stevenson chronicled the path from the one channel days of the 1960s, to a second channel in 1975 (TV3 didn't launch until 1989). A variety show (see musical excerpts below) — also called 25 Years of Television — featured performances by everyone from Dinah Lee to Ray Woolf. Lastly Network New Zealand went behind the scenes at TVNZ.
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.
Packed with creatures and landscapes that quite simply boggle the mind, the Nature Collection showcases New Zealand's impressive menagerie of nature and wildlife films. Many of the titles were made by powerhouse company NHNZ, which began around 1977 as the Natural History Unit, a small, southern outpost of state television. In this backgrounder, Peter Hayden — who had a hand in more than a few of these classic films — guides viewers through just what the Nature Collection has to offer.
Allan Martin was influential in television in both New Zealand and Australia. In the early 60s he helped the fledgling television arm of the BCNZ produce popular regional show Town and Around, and was a key player in the creation of ground-breaking current affairs series Compass. After time in Australian television, he returned to set up NZ's second TV channel South Pacific Television in 1975. Martin was later Director-General of TVNZ from 1980 to 1985.
Programmer John McCready has had a significant impact on the television industry in New Zealand. After extended time in music and radio he joined TVNZ in 1989 as Manager of Presentation and Promotion, just as TV3 came on air. The following year McCready became TVNZ's Director of Programming, and revamped both TV1 and TV2 over a four year period. He headed overseas for a while, before returning to New Zealand as Director of Programming and Marketing for Sky TV. Before retiring in 2007, McCready successfully launched The Living Channel and Food TV on Sky.
Television presenter Bob Parker went on to become mayor of New Zealand's second largest city. After starting out as a continuity announcer for TV One, Parker hosted a number of live TV shows including Telethon, Young Farmer of the Year, the Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Awards and spent 12 years holding the big red book on This is Your Life. In 2007 he was elected Mayor of Christchurch, leaving the role in 2013.
John Terris is a former broadcaster turned politician, who started out as a continuity announcer in the early 1960s. Shifting behind the camera, Terris worked on many early current affairs and information shows such as Compass, Country Calendar and Town and Around. In 1978 Terris became Labour MP for Western Hutt, and for a time was the party's broadcasting spokesman. These days he heads television advocacy group Media Matters.
Since the 1970s, producer John Barnett has been instrumental in bringing a host of uniquely Kiwi stories to local and international screens, from Fred Dagg to Footrot Flats, from Whale Rider to Sione’s Wedding and What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?, from iconic soap Shortland Street to the wildly successful Westie family drama Outrageous Fortune.