This documentary charts the journey of Auckland hip hop band Nesian Mystik, from their beginnings as an inner-city school band at Western Springs to gold albums and international acclaim. Filmed in New Zealand, London and Tonga the documentary explores the multi-cultural roots of the band members and the inspiration for their lyrics. Director Makerita Urale uses the Nesian Mystik story as a lens to reflect the wider picture of Māori, Pacific Island and Pakeha society in New Zealand.
Every now and then here at NZ On Screen, we like to stick our necks out and choose a Top 10. And our collective opinion is that these are the funniest New Zealand television series to date: from bro' Town to Billy T, from Gliding On to the tag team hijinks of 7 Days. Plus 10 runners-up that we couldn't agree on. Read on to find out more.
Contemporary troubadours Marlon Williams and Delaney Davidson delve deep into the sounds of traditional country music. After co-writing ‘Bloodletter’, from their debut album Sad but True: Volume 1, they won the NZ Music Award for Country Song of the Year. The gothic tale of tragedy and misery is visualised by director Tim McIness via a Once Upon a Time in The South horseback pursuit, as Williams tracks a fleeing Davidson. The wide open spaces of mid-Canterbury’s Mesopotamia Station make an admirable substitute for the frontier’s big sky country.
Directed by Tainui Stephens, this 1990 TVNZ series surveyed Māori contemporary music. This second episode looks at the showband era (1950s - 70s), when musicians mixed genres (electric guitar, rock’n’roll) with Māori culture, to make a unique contribution to Kiwi show business. Acts like The Howard Morrison Quartet, The Māori Volcanics, The Quin Tikis and The Māori Hi-Fives took songs from marae to international cabarets. Music historian Chris Bourke praised the series for marking the role of showbands in the whakapapa of entertainers from Billy T James to Rim D Paul.
City Life screened from 1996 to 1998 and made a direct appeal to New Zealand's Gen X apartment-dwelling demographic. Following the lives of a tight-knit group of friends, and featuring racy shots of Auckland's K-Road and nightlife set to contemporary NZ pop music, City Life was NZ's answer to Melrose Place. In this excerpt from the first episode, the friends are thrown into conflict when one of their own (played by Kevin Smith) decides to marry outside the circle. Complications ensue when Smith shares a brief, but notorious, screen kiss with Charles Mesure.
The video for BRF's second single contrasts images of youths in gas masks with This is New Zealand-style panoramic scenery. The song ominously describes a complacent society ignoring apocalyptic possibilities: it could be the theme song to The Quiet Earth. But like BRF's UK contemporaries the Cure and Joy Division, behind the brooding, melancholic music is a pop song with deceptive hooklines. The haunting melody emerges slowly from a funereal marching beat, while the chorus is almost ecstatic, with phased synthesised strings that seem to take flight.
The title track from Moana and the Moahunters’ gold-selling first album celebrates wahine and Māori cultural pride, via what singer Moana Maniapoto called “haka house music”. The fusion of traditional Māori sounds with contemporary grooves got to number nine in the charts. It was co-written with Andrew McNaughton and features vocalist Hareruia Aperahama (‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf’). Kerry Brown's video cuts the group singing together with kapa haka (the acclaimed Te Waka Huia) and whānau playing. Brown also directed the video for the group’s groundbreaking ‘AEIOU’.
This TVNZ entertainment special showcases Pacific Island contemporary and traditional fashion design, as well as music and dance. The live event and the TV show were both produced by Stan Wolfgramm and Julie Smith of Drum Productions. Wolfgramm also co-hosts this 2009 programme, along with Lotto presenter Sonia Gray. Fashion designers Francis Hooper, Denise L’Estrange-Corbet and Liz Mitchell appear as judges, and performers include John Rowles, Ben Lummis and Moana and the Tribe.
This TVNZ entertainment special showcased Pacific Island contemporary and traditional fashion design, as well as music and dance. The live event and the TV show were both produced by Stan Wolfgramm and Julie Smith; Wolfgramm usually co-hosted along with someone from the TVNZ's stable of talent. The first Style Pasifika special screened in 2000 (the live show had been covered by TVNZ’s regular Pacific magazine series Tagata Pasifika prior to that). The live event continued until 2011.
This four-part TVNZ series from 1986 surveyed the history of soul music, with a roll call of talented Kiwi performers belting out the genre's classics. In this first episode — presented by Dalvanius with Stevie Wonder braids — the focus is on the influential 60s soul music of New York label Atlantic Records. Singers include Bunny Walters, Debbie Harwood, The Yandall Sisters, Peter Morgan and more. Ardijah chime in with their contemporary soul hit ‘Your Love is Blind’. The series writer was Murray Cammick, founder of music magazine Rip It Up.