'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.
Great adverts are strange things: mini works of magic, with the power to make viewers smile, cry, and even buy. Kiwi directors have shown such a knack for making them, they've been invited to do so across the globe. But this collection is about local favourites; dogs on skateboards, choc bar robberies, ghost chips. NZ On Screen's Irene Gardiner backgrounds the top 10 here.
Paul Henry surprises bungy jumping entrepreneur Alan John Hackett at Auckland Airport with the immortal words, "This is your life". The many guests in this 70-min. special include childhood go-kart friends, bungying celebs and police boat chief Lloyd McIntosh, who recalls the day he witnessed Hackett leaping off Auckland Harbour Bridge as "a highlight from his career". Hackett later stole up, and leapt off, the Eiffel Tower (less Man on a Wire, more man with rubber rope). Adds his mother Margaret: "I'm buggered if I consider him famous. He's just AJ."
Irreverent 90s youth show hosts Mikey Havoc and Jeremy ‘Newsboy’ Wells went on the road in this hit series. Down south they infamously outed Gore as the “gay capital of New Zealand”. While many viewers had a laugh at the Auckland duo’s lampooning of small town conservatism, some took the bait and were not amused by Newsboy's “gay man’s Gore” moniker, preferring to tout the town’s trout fishing, line-dancing and country music. The mischievous pair also visit Dunedin, Fox Glacier and Queenstown, where they 'promote' attractions and meet base jumper Chuck Berry.
Presented by veteran newsreader Richard Long, this documentary looks at the history of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, focusing on some of the many and varied events which have happened on the bridge, such as AJ Hackett's first bungy jump off of it, the Dame Whina Cooper-led Maori land march of 1975, and the first plane to fly under the bridge. Interviewees include Joe Hawke, who was both a builder who worked on the bridge and a leader of the land march, and one of the Japanese makers of the 'Nippon Clippon' bridge extensions added in 1969.
Named after the exaggerated facial expressions performed in a haka, this long-running children's series emphasises the energy of contemporary youth culture. Made by company Cinco Cine, Pūkana was pioneering in Māori language programming for kids. This 2015 episode sees the crew of reporters stunt driving, skydiving, camping, kayaking, bungy jumping, and hanging out with a tarantula. The crew includes past Homai te Pakipaki champ Pikiteora Mura-Hitai, and veteran Pūkana presenter Tiara Tāwera, who is about to follow Mātai Smith and switch to directing on the show.
Phil Keoghan’s pre-Amazing Race screen education included profiling Kiwi adventure sport thrillseekers in a series of short vignettes for TV3’s Mobil Sport. Scored to a sampler of early 90s pop music, these clips focus mostly on rad airborne acrobats: a ‘para-bungee’, the then-new sport of skysurfing, riding atop a Tiger Moth, Phil losing the sponsor’s product flying with veteran fighter pilot Bryan Cox, plus surfing down sand dunes on snowboards. Keoghan later took the Keoghan’s Heroes concept to Canada and the United States (including a slot on CBS news).
This classic 1989 TV commercial promoted the NZ Lotteries Commission’s new ‘scratch and win’ cards. The goad to gamble was based on the question: “Instant Kiwi attitude: have you got it?” as personified by a bungy-jumping fisherman. From Saatchi & Saatchi’s then-high-flying Wellington office, the promo is iconic of the big budget era of NZ ad making. It was directed by Flying Fish co-founder Lee Tamahori, who also helmed high profile promos for Fernleaf and Steinlager before making his movie directing debut with Once Were Warriors (1994).
“Balls, bungy and videotape” is the tagline for this Loading Docs short film. The Jump celebrates the DIY spirit of unsung Kiwi hero Chris Sigglekow — who leapt off a bridge in jeans in 1980 for arguably the first modern bungy jump. Sigglekow recalls, and VHS footage shows, the pioneering jumps: from a boxing bag, to his and AJ Hackett’s famous Auckland Harbour Bridge leap. The first doco by ad director Alex Sutherland, Jump won 140,000+ views when it was made a Vimeo Staff Pick, and it was shared by surfing legend Laird Hamilton. Caution: contains Stubbies and Speedos.
This wryly-titled 80s show was a homegrown take on US show That’s Incredible!, with the spectacular stunts and supernatural happenings of the original replaced with more downbeat kiwiana kitsch subjects. This excerpt from an end of season review looks at highlights from presenter Phil Keoghan’s contribution. The future Amazing Race host tries a spaghetti eating competition (post-bungy jumping), giraffe feeding, land sailing, snowboarding, male cheerleading, cow pat tossing and a cowboy up challenge. TFI was the first series from production company Communicado.