From the icons (Sky Tower, Otara Market, Rangitoto, The Bridge), celebs, clans and stereotypes (Jafas), to the streets (Queen St, K Road), and Super City suburbs (Ferndale, Mt Raskill, Morningside), this collection celebrates Auckland onscreen. Reel through the moods and the multicultural, metro, muggy charms of New Zealand’s largest city. In this backgrounder, No. 2 director Toa Fraser writes about Auckland as a place of myth, diversity and broken jaws.
This 2010 Close Up excerpt sees presenter Mark Sainsbury interview rock band Dragon. After singer Marc Hunter’s death in 1998, the band went on hiatus until nearly a decade later, when Todd Hunter started rehearsing a new line-up, with Mark Williams on vocals. Hunter talks about reforming — "we are here to service the songs" — and he and Williams reflect on their rock’n’roll lives. "It must have been dangerous to be in the band?" asks Sainsbury. It wouldn’t be a Kiwi summer without 'Rain', and the band ends with a TVNZ rooftop rendition of the classic song.
Inspired by Māori oceanic prowess, Tawhiti follows five Māori astronauts who have returned to Earth after living on Mars for five years. The te reo short film follows the crew of NUKU as they visit their marae. NUKU captain Ruanui (Patara Berryman of Mai Time fame) wants to head back to Mars with his family, but his wife Rongo (Maraea Te Wara) is hōhā (annoyed) — "What kind of Māori are you? This is your home!". Director Tamati Ihaka made the sci-fi short film so Māori could "imagine themselves in a different way", and "reconnect with our explorer heritage."
This telefeature imagines the build up to, and aftermath, of an Auckland volcanic eruption. The last big one produced Rangitoto, and scientist Clive de Roo (Mark Mitchinson from Siege) is the man who discovers under the mountain rumblings, 600 years later. Citizens are non-plussed until the top pops. Eruption was produced for TV3 by The Gibson Group and was one of the last projects completed by veteran screenwriter Graeme Tetley (Out of the Blue, Vigil) before his death in 2011. The Gibson Group had earlier produced 2008 earthquake in Wellington drama Aftershock.
Actor-turned-director Gregory King's debut short offers an experimental twist on the "fly on the wall" film. Here a handheld camera becomes the fly and the connection between three groups of modern city dwellers: an Asian family and the Auckland they encounter via airport, taxi, and hotel; a whacked-out man and a boy toying with each other in a dilapidated squat; and a party of drag queens in a high rise apartment (heels, snow and sequins). Pop won an 'Outstanding Achievement in Video Production' award at the Melbourne International Film Festival.
As the trailer makes clear, this award-winning animated short film has a key ingredient for a pulp movie: cardboard. It also features car chases, explosions and a fire brigade fighting to save Cardboard City (including The Beehive and Sky Tower). Director Phil Brough collaborated on the script with fellow Back of the Y alumnus Matt Heath. Leigh Hart and Jeremy Wells are among the voices in the film, which was six years in the making. Fire in Cardboard City was selected for the 2018 Berlin and Tribeca film festivals, and won Best New Zealand Film at the 2017 Show Me Shorts Film Festival.
Middledon is invaded by aliens in this early 2000s teen series. In this first episode, Jeff and Noodle — 21st Century skater descendents of Terry Teo fed on What Now? ADD — stumble upon the conspiring Neo Corporation. Being the only ones to see Neo's nefarious plot, the duo must resist mind control (teen spirit anyone?), save the town, and stop their skate park being 'wasted' and turned into a mall. Future World fashion designer Benny Castles plays Jeff, Rawiri Paratene is Gran (!) Pekapeka, and Antony Starr's Stevo channels teen slacker icon Jeff Spicoli.
One of seven singles from Bic Runga's mega-selling debut album Drive, 'Suddenly Strange' is about calling time on a relationship. Runga's bittersweet lyric is a declaration of independence that never quite becomes unequivocal. Nominated for Best Video at the 1998 NZ Music Awards, the stylishly colourful clip finds her inside a cube in various locations around Auckland — enclosed while life carries on around her, at least until the hopeful final shot. Director and graphic designer Wayne Conway (partner of Kate Sylvester) also designed the cover of the Drive album.
Brit MP Austin Mitchell began his career as a lecturer and broadcaster in New Zealand, back in the 1960s. He went on to write about Aotearoa in classic 1972 book The Half Gallon Quarter Acre Pavlova Paradise. In this final part of his 2002 return to Godzone, Mitchell takes Auckland's pulse in a pre-Supercity era, with John Banks as mayor and the America’s Cup in the cabinet. He also examines music and sport. The series ends with musings on Kiwi identity from Helen Clark, Sam Neill, and Michael King. Look out for a young Valerie Adams roughly 4 minutes 30 seconds into clip four.
Wayne Leonard has directed some of the highest-rated live events on New Zealand television. Since leaving TVNZ in the early 2000s to go freelance, he has continued to be one of the country’s premiere live directors, and helmed TV series ranging from hit panel show Game of Two Halves to My Kitchen Rules. In 2013 his coverage of the America’s Cup in San Francisco was nominated for multiple Sports Emmy awards.