Series

Praise Be

Television, 1985–2016

Recorded in varied locations across New Zealand, Praise Be mixed choral contributions and biblical readings. Though its siblings Country Calendar and Fair Go are even older, Praise Be ranked among New Zealand’s longest-running television shows. The Sunday worship show played from 1986 to 2016, apart from two years off air in the mid 2000s. Veteran broadcaster Graeme Thomson presented the show for its first two decades, before he passed away in 2008; then the show was hosted by Chris Nichol, a Presbyterian minister and veteran of TVNZ’s Religious Programmes Unit.

Praise Be - Series 11, Episode 13

Television, 1996 (Full Length Episode)

This episode of the long-running religious programme focuses on Auckland's Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. It features hymns from the Holy Trinity Choir and Auckland Choral Federation. The Graeme Thomson-hosted show also discusses the history and architecture of the cathedral following the completion of its nave in 1995. Built on land bought by Bishop Selwyn in 1859, the completed cathedral reflects the undulating landscape of Auckland, combining Gothic and Polynesian elements.

Praise Be for Christmas

Television, 1993 (Full Length Episode)

Since debuting in 1986, Praise Be has become a Sunday morning perennial. In this extended 1993 Christmas special, original Praise Be presenter Graeme Thomson travels far and wide in search of heavenly vocals: including big city cathedrals, schools, among singing sailors at Devonport Naval Base, and to a disused Canterbury flour mill, where the local farming community pack in for 'Away in a Manger'. A number of TV personalities (Judy Bailey, Phillip Leishman) also make appearances, to talk about Christmas and read from the bible.

The Singing Trophy

Short Film, 1992 (Full Length)

A hunter heads home, to add his latest catch to an extensive wall of animal trophies. Then he sets about making some music. But things do not go to plan: with a mouse loose in the building, the chase is on. The third film by Kiwi king of the kooky, director Grant Lahood was nominated for Best Short Film at the Cannes Film Festival, and took away a special technical award. It was also judged best short film at the 1993 NZ Film and Television Awards. The Singing Trophy was filmed at Kahutara Taxidermy museum in the Wairarapa.

Survey - The Unbelievable Glory of the Human Voice

Television, 1972 (Full Length)

Opening with an image of Orpheus floating on the water, this inspired doco climaxes with a contender for NZ's most eyeopening montage yet. Loaded with examples of the infinite ways the human voice can make music, the film sees host Julian Waring introducing choirs, opera, balladeers and protest singers. Along the way Michael Heath recreates a performance by Florence Foster Jenkins, a worryingly close cousin of Asian-New Zealand songbird Wing. The mash-up finale uses 2000 photographs to summarise two decades of music, in a scene that must have blown minds in the suburbs. 

Pictorial Parade No. 108

Short Film, 1960 (Full Length)

This National Film Unit magazine film begins with a choir performing the classic 'Pokarekare Ana' in the acoustically-blessed depths of the Waitomo Caves. The second item involves a visit to a toy factory, deep in preparation for Christmas. Disembodied doll heads fill a bin, while elsewhere factory staff add eyes, and blacken the teeth of rocking horses. There are also teddy bears, electric trains and rows of toy trucks. The narrator explains the joy the toys will bring come Christmas: “a production line to delight children everywhere — fantasy from an industrial Santa Claus”.

Dreams Lie Deeper

Television, 2014 (Excerpts)

In November 2010, 29 miners died in the Pike River disaster. In 2014 Wellington’s Orpheus Choir invited singer Dave Dobbyn to compose a musical tribute to the victims. Dreams Lie Deeper followed Dobbyn to Greymouth to meet with mourning families, and visit the mine. This excerpt shows the premiere of Dobbyn's song ‘This Love’ in Wellington on 10 May 2014, to a standing ovation. The film screened on TV One on the fourth anniversary of the disaster. Sunday Star Times critic Grant Smithies called it “one hell of a documentary. Raw, touching and blessedly unsentimental.” 

John Rowles, Ladies and Gentlemen

Television, 1969 (Full Length)

In 1969 Kiwi music legend John Rowles was in his early 20s, and flush with UK success: appearing on Top of the Pops and celebrating a single – ‘If I Only Had Time’ – which got to number three in the British charts. This fly on the wall documentary records his homecoming tour, complete with cigars, turtlenecks, rehearsals, press interviews, dancing, hongi and a civic reception in Kawerau (where he’d been fired from a mill job five years before, for arriving late). Rowles launches single ‘M’Lady’, soon to top the NZ charts, and reflects on how he's changed since leaving Kawerau.

Praise Be - Christchurch Cathedral Special

Television, 1998 (Full Length Episode)

TVNZ's long running religious and choral music programme visits Christchurch's Anglican cathedral. Before its devastation by earthquakes, it was the centre of the city and one of the most celebrated of its great Gothic buildings. It could also claim to be "the most visited, the most accessible and best known church in New Zealand". Host Graeme Thomson explores the cathedral, its chapels and bell tower and outlines its history. He interviews Dean John Bluck and introduces hymns and songs of praise sung by the cathedral's choir and an ecumenical congregation.

Interview

Ron Pledger: Praise Be live TV…

Interview and Editing - Ian Pryor. Camera - Jess Charlton

Got a major live event you want to put on television? Ron Pledger has long been one of the first people to get on the phone. The MBE-awarded director has commanded live coverage of Sir Edmund Hillary’s funeral, Kiri Te Kanawa in concert, This is Your Life and roughly 20 Anzac Day ceremonies. His screen career also encompasses church choirs, Canadian soap operas, the infamous GOFTA awards, and the madness of Top Town.