'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.
New Zealand's representatives in parliament have had some of their most memorable moments captured on camera. This collection showcases their screen legacy: from stirring addresses (Kirk), feisty debates (Muldoon, Lange, Olympic boycotts), revolutions, nukes, and snap elections, to political punches (Bob Jones), and young leaders (Clark). Listener writer Toby Manhire writes about Kiwi politicians on screen here.
Opera in the Outback offers a wry, fly on the wall view of the lead-up to a most unusual event: the first concert by Kiri Te Kanawa in the Australian outback. Kiwi director Stephen Latty and writer Michael Heath realise the people are the story, from affable locals to those preparing for 9000 joyful, sometimes drunken arrivals. The inhabitants of Beltana — population roughly 12 — risk building a new racetrack for visitors less operatically inclined, while Australian National Railways send all the rolling stock they can. Some of the Kiwi film crew were awake for 52 hours, trying to capture it all.
Pop Goes the Weasel was C4's twisted answer to iconic British pop quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks, embracing a shambolic DIY approach with oversized props, lots of ribbing and an oiled up man in tights (the Weasel) handling the judging. It's fair to say that not every joke has aged well. This trans-Tasman stoush pits a young Dai Henwood and Evan Short from Concord Dawn, against Scott Owen from The Living End and a DJ called 'the Doctor'. Overseeing it all is quizmistress supreme, Jaquie Brown. Director Toa Fraser pops by to embarrass Henwood with a prank call.
Hugh Macdonald’s long filmmaking career encompasses historical epics, Oscar-nominated shorts, and lots of time on the road. Macdonald is probably best-known for three-screen spectacular This is New Zealand, which got crowds queueing at World Expo in Japan, before playing for months back home. A two-decade long stint at the National Film Unit also saw him directing two episodes of historical epic The Governor, and producing the first of many animated shorts.
Kiwi hair and makeup artist Lesley Vanderwalt won an Oscar and a Bafta for her work on Mad Max: Fury Road. She also collaborated with director George Miller on Babe 2, Nicole Kidman mini-series Bangkok Hilton and the second Mad Max movie. The onetime Wellington hairdresser had makeup duties on early Kiwi classics The Governor, Skin Deep and Bad Blood, before a slew of Australian credits (Shine, Moulin Rouge!).
From a career in print journalism and public relations that began in his teens, Gordon Dryden became a familiar face on New Zealand television in the mid 70s. Earning himself a reputation as a tough interviewer, Dryden hosted coverage of the 1975 election before presenting Friday Conference. A 1991 TV series on education would lead to book The Learning Revolution, which sold in the millions.
Once upon a time the Kiwi accent was a broadcasting crime, and politicians decided in advance which questions they would answer on-screen. Here is the News examines three decades (up to 1992) of Kiwi TV journalism and news presentation. The roll-call of on and off camera talent provides fascinating glimpses behind key events, including early jury-rigged attempts at nationwide broadcast, Dougal Stevenson announcing the 1975 arrival of competing TV networks, the Wahine, Erebus, Muldoon, turkeys in gumboots, and the tour - where journalists too, became "objects of hatred".
The late Margaret Thomson is arguably the first New Zealand woman to have directed films. Thomson spent much of her film career working in England, plus two years back in New Zealand at the National Film Unit. Her NFU short Railway Worker (1948) is regarded as a classic.
Known for his stylish reinventions of familiar genres, Scott Reynolds followed successful short A Game with No Rules, with rave reviews and a host of awards for his debut feature, serial killer tale The Ugly. Two further movies — Heaven and When Strangers Appear — have followed.