Classic Kiwi play Joyful and Triumphant followed the Bishop family over four decades, from 1949 to 1989. Written by Robert Lord, it charted changes in New Zealand society by focusing on the minutae of Christmas Day family dynamics. The play was first performed to sellout audiences in 1992, a month after Lord died. It won multiple Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards. Directed by Peter Sharp (The Fire-Raiser), this TV adaptation features Robyn Malcolm and Goodbye Pork Pie's Tony Barry — plus Catherine Downes and Bruce Phillips, who both appeared in the original production.
This "essay on global warming" was written by Able Tasmans band member Leslie Jonkers. Bagpipes and spinning pomegranates give away to amoeba and swirling shots of trees. The band are shot in colour amongst Christmas decorations, and in black and white in a forest as the song spins and builds. Shots of a Chrysler Valiant give way to footage of a village in Africa, a forest in Asia, the Golden Gate Bridge and Speakers' Corner in London. And why a frog? Because when water is gradually heated, a frog doesn't notice the changing temperature and will be poached.
Using spectral tactics to generate road safety awareness this film carries on from where The Elysian Bus left off, emphasising that the loss of the 300 Kiwis who are likely to die on the roads in the coming year will be more than statistical. A Christmas Carol-style future projection shows gifts being handed out from under the tree, but Mary is not there to receive hers as she was on "the list of names". Actual crash footage drives home the grim message with more solemnity than Ghost Chips. One of the names under the reaper's skeletal finger is spookily 'Peter Jackson'.
Simon Marler's film industry experience includes stints as a casting director, as a director of shorts and documentaries, and three years as head of New Zealand film organisation Script to Screen.
In the mid 1970s the Chatham Island black robin was the world's rarest bird. With only two females left, the conservation ante was extreme. Enter saviour Don Merton and his Wildlife Service team. Their pioneering efforts ranged from abseiling the birds (including the 'Eve' of her species, 'Old Blue') down cliff faces, to left-field libido spurs. This 1988 Listener Film and TV award-winner united two earlier Wild South documentaries, and updated the robin’s rescue story to 1987. It originally screened on Christmas Day 1987, before being modified for this 1989 edition.
“These three birds are over half the world population of their species.” Peter Hayden’s narration lays bare the stakes for the Chatham Island black robin, and the Wildlife Service team (led by Don Merton) trying to save them. Merton’s innovative methods include removing eggs from nests – to encourage the last two females to lay again – and placing them in riroriro (grey warbler) foster homes. The black robin documentaries helped forge the reputation of TVNZ's Natural History Unit. Paul Stanley Ward writes about the documentaries here, and the mission to save the black robin.
By 1976 there were only seven Chatham Islands black robins left. It was the world's rarest bird. In a bid to save the species, the surviving birds were taken from one island to another more hospitable island in a desperate rescue mission. This was part of an incredible conservation success story led by Don Merton and his NZ Wildlife Service team. Seven Black Robins and Project Takahē captured viewers' imaginations as part of an acclaimed series of 'rare bird' films that screened on TV series Wild South. They helped forge the reputation of TVNZ’s Natural History Unit (later NHNZ).
Darien Takle was telling people she'd be an actor at kindergarten. Since then she has sung on stage as Edith Piaf and Eva Peron, directed and taught drama, created a solo show about Frances Hodgkins and released CD No Regrets. Her screen roles are as diverse — from variety show 12 Bar Rhythm and Shoes, to playing Xena's Mum, to an award-winning turn in Christmas as a downtrodden wife.
New Zealand born, Australian-based Jan Preston has composing credits for a number of feature films (Home By Christmas, Illustrious Energy) and hundreds of documentaries. She has worked for award-winning filmmakers from Leon Narbey and Australian Tom Zubrycki to her sister, Gaylene Preston. She was also a member of Kiwi rockers Coup D'etat, whose song 'Doctor I Like Your Medicine' was a top ten hit. Preston regularly tours as the self-styled Queen of Boogie Piano.
Paul Holmes, KCNZM, helped change the face of New Zealand broadcasting. In 1989 the actor turned radio host began presenting primetime news and magazine show Holmes in spectacular style, when guest Dennis Conner walked out of his interview. Holmes balanced the TV show and a popular radio slot for 15 years, followed by a stint with Prime TV and current affairs show Q+A. He passed away on 1 February 2013.