This collection celebrates more of the legendary TV moments that Kiwis gawked at, chortled with, and choked on our tea over. In the collection primer Paul (Eating Media Lunch) Casserly chews on rapper Redhead Kingpin’s equine advice to 3:45 LIVE! and mo’ memorable moments: from a NSFW Angela D'Audney to screen folk heroes Colin McKenzie and the Ingham twins.
'No 8 wire' Kiwi ingenuity is defined by problem solving from few resources (No 8 wire is fencing wire that can be adapted to many uses, an ability that was particularly handy for isolated NZ settlers). Embodied in heroes from Richard Pearse to PJ, Kiwi ingenuity is a quality dear to our national sense of self. It has been memorably celebrated, and sometimes satirised, on screen.
Craig Busch aka The Lion Man is a self-taught big cat handler who has brought Barbary lions and white Bengal tigers to New Zealand. With both species extinct in the wild, Busch launched a breeding programme to add to limited numbers remaining in captivity. Great Southern Television produced three series following the often controversial Busch and his giant feline charges, from the early days of his Zion Wildlife Gardens park near Whangarei (later relaunched as The Kingdom of Zion). An international sales success, the show has played in more than 120 countries.
Lion Man Craig Busch, and his unlikely colleagues — African lions and white Bengal tigers — were a ratings and international sales success across three TV seasons. The Lion Man went behind the scenes at his Zion Wildlife Gardens animal park. In this first episode of the Great Southern TV show, Busch talks about his introduction to working with the big cats — and the scars that are part of the job. There's also a peek at the making of an award-winning Sky TV promo that featured his lions. Busch, and the park, were later to be the centre of regular controversy.
The globetrotting Sandy Houston began her career in animation and visual effects, after she left New Zealand for London. In the 90s she joined powerhouse American effects company ILM and Walt Disney Pictures, then Weta Digital in 2003. En route, she worked on a number of landmark films in modern visual effects, including Jurassic Park, the Oscar-winning Avatar, and Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong.
This big, bright cover of British act Blue Mink's plea for multi-racial harmony and a world of "coffee coloured people" was a chart-topper for all female vocal group When the Cat's Away in November 1988. The self-produced video is heavy on 80s fluoro colours and overexposed whites, while the placement of the Cats around a single mic affords them plenty of chances to interact and enjoy each other's company (they're also seen out and about on Karangahape Road, and at a rugby league test). This cat video before cat videos overran the internet includes an actual cat.
This wee gem from the 60s Sunday night magazine show records a pivotal New Zealand conservation moment. Wildlife Service ranger Don Merton experiments with rescue techniques to save the endangered North Island saddleback (tieke), a wattlebird surviving on Hen Island. Aided by electronics expert John Kendrick (of National Radio bird call fame) he uses calls to lure the spry birds into mist nets before moving the precious cargo to cat-free Cuvier Island. The world-leading skills developed here were to be crucial in saving the black robin and kakapo from extinction.
Following the demise of Pacific Funk band Big Sideways, vocalist Debbie Harwood launched a solo career with this cover of an Ashford and Simpson song written for Gladys Knight and the Pips. The single was dedicated to recently deceased Dragon keyboards player Paul Hewson, and it won Harwood a NZ Music Award (at a ceremony which provided the impetus for the formation of When the Cat’s Away). The video, produced by TVNZ at Avalon, is a straightforward studio performance, but is notable for the extended, two minute long tracking shot that comprises its second half.
Debbie Harwood performed with Pacific funk band Big Sideways and did time in music promotion and managing bands, before releasing her debut single ‘If That’ll Make You Happy’ in 1985. It won her a NZ Music Award for Most Promising Female Vocalist. A second award followed for 'Blue Water', a one-off collaboration with Johnny Bongo. Her involvement with highly successful all female act When the Cat’s Away has dominated her subsequent career. Harwood has also performed live with Jimmy Barnes and Moana Maniapoto, and been a passionate advocate for women musicians.
Debbie Harwood and Johnny Bongo (John Quigley, formerly of The Bongos) were members of early 80s Auckland band Big Sideways. Harwood then released two solo singles and won Most Promising Female Vocalist at the 1985 NZ Music Awards. The pair teamed up for what became a one-off studio project which yielded the single ‘Blue Water’. It won them Most Promising Group in 1987 (although they never actually performed live). Harwood went on to form the hugely successful When The Cat’s Away. Quigley is a member of Auckland acoustic jazz act Nairobi Trio.