Arm yourself with jaffas and get set for debate: NZ On Screen has gone out on a limb and selected an all-time NZ feature film Top 10. Starring the icons of the Kiwi big screen — Blondini, Ada, Beth, Boy. Whet your appetite for our finest features via choice 10-minute excerpts of the movies. Cook the man some eggs, we're taking this Top 10 to Invercargill!
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 in to embarrass Henwood with a prank call.
This animated promo was one of a series that ran from 1966 to help communicate New Zealand’s shift to decimal currency. The existing imperial system divided pounds into 20 shillings and 240 pence, and required working out the fractions. In 1963 it was decided to ‘decimalise’ to make things simpler. ‘Mr Dollar’ was the icon of the change, and here, with the help of a Dad joke, he introduces the notes and coins, and the changeover date. Mr Dollar — plus 27 million banknotes and 165 million coins — officially marched into town on 10 July 1967.
This promotional travelogue, made for the Christchurch City Council, shows off the city and its environs. Filmed at a time when New Zealand’s post-war economy was booming as it continued its role as a farmyard for the “Old Country”, it depicts Christchurch as a prosperous city, confident in its green and pleasant self-image as a “better Britain” (as James Belich coined NZ’s relationship to England), and architecturally dominated by its cathedrals, churches and schools. Many of these buildings were severely damaged or destroyed in the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.
The Stereo Bus began and ended with ex Jean-Paul Sartre Experience songwriter David Yetton — although he rarely performed alone. Yetton coined the term "sissy pop" to encompass the band's mixture of sensitivity and massed guitars. The first, garishly-tinted Stereo Bus album emerged in 1997; the louder, Alan Gregg-produced Brand New followed in 1999. It hit number 10 in the local charts, but increasing demand for live gigs perversely left Yetton less interested; he called it a day soon after. Solo album Blow Out the Candles (2005) includes many tracks originally earmarked for a third Stereo Bus album.
By the time of Gloss’s second season the sharemarket had crashed, but the parade of yuppies, shoulder-pads and champagne went on. This 19 July 1988 episode sees the Redfern family deal with a tragedy; it also features an acting cameo from future weatherman Jim Hickey. In these excerpts Hickey isn’t playing meteorological soothsayer to the nation, but a policeman responding to the mysterious death of Brad Redfern (Michael Keir-Morrissey). He soothes the Redferns, after tossing a coin with a fellow officer for a ride to Remuera in the deceased’s Jaguar.
A light take on unfortunate circumstances, Broke offers the simple story of a not-so-simple mission to buy some milk. Armed with only the meagre change he can scrape from his messy apartment, Billy (Dan Veint) is affronted on his numerous trips to and from the dairy by a homeless man (Bruce Hopkins) asking for the spare coins he doesn't have. Conflict is brewing. Broke was inspired by a real life incident experienced by writer/ director James Solomon — who first came up with the idea of the K’ Rd Stories series of short films. Billy also turns up in another K' Rd Story, The Event.
Two presenters are tricked into visiting Rotorua in the fourth series of Māori youth magazine show I AM TV. Host Taupunakohe Tocker excitedly tells Kimo Holtham and Chey Milne they are being sent to Las Vegas, but instead they end up in 'Rotovegas'. Holtham and Milne tour around Rotorua diving for coins at Whakarewarewa Village, eating corn cooked in geothermal water, and meeting locals, including musician JJ Rika. Tocker interviews Tiki Taane and ropes pedestrians in to do air guitar, while Stan Walker shows what it's like backstage at his Auckland concert.
Brit-born Caroline Johnstone directed an eclectic slate of documentaries, reality shows and corporate projects, many for Wellington company Top Shelf. Always up for a challenge, she worked on subjects ranging from coins, to con artists, to drag performers (one-off doco The Drag Kings). Described by those close as a “total adventure-seeking thrill seeker”, Johnstone died after a fall at Whakapapa skifield, on 31 August 2013.
Tama Poata's wide-ranging contributions to our culture can be glimpsed through his appearances on-screen: from campaigns for Māori land rights (in 1975 doco Te Matakite O Aotearoa) and against the Springbok tour (Patu!), to his many acting roles. He also directed documentaries and wrote landmark 1987 movie Ngati, the first feature written (and directed) by Māori.