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.
NZ On Air is 30 years old! Over three decades, countless stories and songs reflecting New Zealand's culture and identity have been created, thanks to the organisation's investment of public funds. To celebrate this milestone, NZ On Air asked well-known Kiwis to reflect on a programme or song from the past 30 years that has stuck with them — then asked some of those who worked behind the scenes to provide their perspective. Plus Ruth Harley, the first boss of NZ On Air, describes how it all began.
This is the first edition of Lotto, New Zealand's oldest state-run weekly lottery. It was broadcast live from Auckland on 1 August 1987 (tickets went on sale on 22 July). The draw was hosted by Doug Harvey and Ann Wilson and overseen by independent scrutineers, with the seven balls picked (from 40) by "The Barrel" — the much-hyped automated number picker. The inaugural numbers were — spoiler alert! — 4, 29, 16, 40, 8 and ... 32, and the bonus number was 30. The prize pool for the first draw was $1,028,024 and Division One was $359,808, which was split four ways.
Alongside more than 50 years as a radio personality, Barry Holland has appeared on New Zealand TV screens many times. Holland has been a weather presenter and newsreader, and has commentated the Olympic Games and America’s Cup. He was also the presenter on a number of popular TV shows, including On the Mat, Top Town and Sunday Afternoon Sportsworld.
In over 30 years as a producer and director with TVNZ, Derek Wooster made a huge contribution to both mainstream and Māori broadcasting. Among his many projects, Wooster created and produced Marae – the country’s longest running Māori current affairs programme. Other notable achievements include producing the tangihanga of Dame Whina Cooper and the Māori Queen.
David Beatson was a broadcasting veteran with more than 50 years experience in journalism. Beatson began his television career as a reporter on magazine show Town and Around, before developing a reputation for a no-nonsense interviewing style on shows like Gallery and Eyewitness. Later in his career Beatson became the editor of the Listener, chief press secretary to PM Jim Bolger and chairman of NZ On Air.
Ray Waru has had a long and distinguished career as a producer and director in both television and radio. He began his TV career working on factual series such as Country Calendar, Fair Go, People Like Us and Tomorrow’s World. In 1980 he established the Māori television production unit at TVNZ, and launched the first regular Māori primetime show Koha. Waru went on to work on major documentary series Our People Our Century and Frontier of Dreams.
The late Whai Ngata (Ngāti Porou, Whānau ā Apanui), NZOM, had a long and distinguished career in television, radio and print. Beginning as a Māori reporter for The Auckland Star, Ngata moved on to Radio New Zealand in 1975, then joined TVNZ in 1983. Soon he was reading the news in Māori on Te Karere. Along with Ernie Leonard, he helped set up the Māori Programmes department at TVNZ, and was a key member of the Waka Huia team. In 1994 Ngata became head of the Māori department and was instrumental in creating long-running programmes like Marae and Mai Time.
Paora Maxwell is the Chief Executive of Māori Television, and a former General Manager of Māori and Pacific Programmes at TVNZ. He began his TV career as a director on children’s shows Play School and 3:45 LIVE!. Maxwell also ran his own company Te Aratai Productions for 15 years.
Producer Larry Parr has had a hand in producing a number of classic New Zealand films, including Sleeping Dogs, Came a Hot Friday and Smash Palace. He has also made forays into directing with Fracture and A Soldier's Tale. After three years as Head of Programming at Māori Television, Parr became Television Manager at Te Māngai Pāho, which funds Māori radio and TV programmes.