Interview

David Bellamy: Moa's Ark and Old Man's Beard...

Englishman David Bellamy is a world famous botanist, author, broadcaster and conservationist. He came to prominence in New Zealand in the 1970s and 1980s with numerous natural history programmes. His trademark beard, larger than life personality and ability to make science understandable made him a popular addition to family viewing time. In 1990 he came to New Zealand to host Moa’s Ark, a landmark documentary series telling the history of our country’s unique evolutionary past. In recent years, Bellamy has become a more controversial figure with his claims that global warming is just part of the earth’s natural climate cycle.

Collection

The Nature Collection

Curated by Peter Hayden

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.

Series

Moa's Ark

Television, 1990

Why is New Zealand's landscape and flora and fauna so unique? In four-part series Moa's Ark, renowned English naturalist David Bellamy, with his impassioned enthusiasm and trademark beard (of "old man's beard must go" fame) goes on a journey to discover the answer. Directed and produced by Peter Hayden, this 1990 TV series was produced by Television New Zealand's award-winning Natural History Unit (now independent production company NHNZ). Read more about the series here. 

Out for the Count

Knightshade, Music Video, 1987

Hamilton hard rockers Knightshade produced a run of sweaty, riff-heavy 80s anthems. This live performance of ‘Out for the Count’ comes from a 13 May 1987 show at The Galaxy in Auckland, which was recorded for both a 1987 album and a Radio with Pictures special. The other featured band was Stonehenge. Knightshade vocalist Wayne Elliott is joined by Gael Ludlow (then better-known as presenter of nature show Our World). The live album Out For The Night Live! made it to 37 on the Kiwi charts. ‘Out for the Count’ had previously got to number 26 on the singles charts in November 1986.    

Series

Ngā Reo

Television, 2001–2004

TVNZ publicity described Ngā Reo like this: “Each episode of Ngā Reo features the story of a Māori person or people and their unique kaupapa: the reason they have been put on this earth, their individual stories and also our national stories." The series soon widened its scope, with episodes on Rastafarianism, performances in Greece by Taki Rua theatre group, and the story behind Napier's Pania of the Reef statue. The episode on activist Syd Jackson won the 2003 NZ TV Award for Best Māori Programme.

Dixie Chicken - Episode Three

Television, 1987 (Full Length)

This episode of TVNZ’s Avalon studio-filmed "mainly country" music show opens with The Toner Sisters, ‘Rockin' with the Rhythm of the Rain’. Introduced by host Andy Anderson as “the big D on the big P, with the big ballad”, Dalvanius bangs out ‘Just Out of Reach’ on the piano. Sharon de Bont covers ‘When Will I Be Loved’. Anderson kids around with Rob Winch and John Grenell, before Grenell gets wistful on ‘Past Like a Mask’. The Ranchsliders get things moving with Paul Simon's ‘Gone at Last’. Then Anderson leads the team for Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Sweet And Shiny Eyes’.

Dixie Chicken - Episode Two

Television, 1987 (Full Length Episode)

This episode of the 1987 "mainly country" music show starts with host Andy Anderson touting homegrown talent. Al Hunter sings about Queen Street’s neon cowboy. Auckland’s Working Holiday sing Aretha's blues number 'Won't Be Long' with harmonica player Brendan Power. Jodi Vaughan performs a plaintive country ditty. Gore’s Dusty Spittle suggests listening to Mum's advice about overdoing it, accompanied by an illustrative skit (with actors Mark Hadlow and Alice Fraser). Then it’s Andy’s favourite Kiwi singer, Hammond Gamble. All the guests jam onstage to conclude.

Moa's Ark : To the Lifeboats

Television, 1990 (Full Length)

Predators (possums, rats, rabbits, deer) forced much of the cargo of 'Moa's Ark' to abandon ship and live on off-shore island lifeboats. Moa's Ark presenter David Bellamy visits them (and recently-established mainland 'islands'), and tells some of New Zealand's most dramatic conservation stories. In the fourth clip, he praises the pioneering leadership of Don Merton. The episode includes footage of kōkako and its haunting song, cheeky kaka parrots, tieke (saddleback), hoiho (yellow-eyed penguin), black robins, fierce-looking giant wētā, and the Castle Hill buttercup (the world's rarest).

The Physical You

Knightshade, Music Video, 1987

Recorded at the Galaxy in Auckland for a Radio With Pictures special in May 1987, Hamilton rockers Knightshade perform ‘The Physical You’. The song made it to number 14 on the New Zealand charts as part of an EP of the same name. Soon after, the band signed an ill-fated deal with Australia's Mushroom Records, before finally releasing their self-titled debut album — featuring this song — in 1995. The band’s performance is archetypical 80s hard rock — which makes sense of their long list of support slots for acts including Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi and Jimmy Barnes.

Our World: The Best Kept Secret - Whirinaki Forest

Television, 1984 (Full Length)

In this episode of the long-running nature programming slot on TV One, naturalist David Bellamy visits New Zealand’s “dinosaur forest” — Whirinaki. Bellamy brings his famed nature-boy enthusiasm to “a living cathedral that dates back 200 million years”. He explores the North Island forest’s “big five”: 60m+ rimu, mataī, kahikatea, miro and tōtara trees; and the ecosystem that they reign over, from kākā parrots to giant tree ferns. The intro is by Gael Ludlow and features the fondly-remembered Jean Michel Jarre synthpop track that was Our World’s signature.