New Zealand has a fine tradition of Kiwi canines on screen. So what better way to celebrate than a Spotlight collection of our favourite screen dogs: from Spot to Dog, plus "Bugger", Hairy Maclary and more. Dogs are a part of the NZ idiom — we love rooting for the underdog — and played key roles ...
In late 2012, an unusual world first got overseas media looking in Aotearoa's direction: Campbell Live followed two rescue dogs as they learned to drive a car. The magical dog moment was an example of a story involving New Zealand going viral around the globe, as this Spotlight collection demonst...
After adapting Maurice Gee classic Under the Mountain for TV, writer Ken Catran wrote his own tale of teen extraterrestrial contact. While holidaying with relatives in the country astronomy-mad Gretchen discovers that a farm weathervane has mysterious powers. In this second episode of the girl-power sci-fi series, the weathervane does strange things to cars and appliances; and Gretchen and local scallywag Ronny discover a secret in a tapu swamp threatened by development. Actors Zac Wallace and Roy Billing feature, and future weatherman Jim Hickey cameos.
Dogs of all shapes and sizes — from huskies and ridgebacks to Alaskan malamutes and King Charles spaniels — compete in this episode of TVNZ's canine challenge. Encouraged by their unfailingly devoted owners, they display varying degrees of ability and interest in an obstacle course, sprints, fetching and scent tests. Away from the cauldron of competition, presenter Mark Leishman's golden Labrador Dexter — the real star of the series — has his portrait painted and there's home video of the lengths, and heights, one dog will go to for a drink of water.
Man. Dog. Sheep. This was an unlikely formula for Kiwi TV gold; A Dog's Show was familiar as a homespun in its long-running Sunday night slot. The show featured sheepdog trials from around the country, with commentary provided by a sagacious, bearded John Gordon. In the final from a 1981 series, four farmers wield sticks and whistles and put their dogs through their paces to wrangle the "sticky sheep". It's 1981, but the only riots here are ovine. Trivia: the opening tune is a version of the song 'Flowers on the Wall', also used in the film Pulp Fiction.
Smith (Sam Neill) is devastated when his wife runs off with his best friend Bullen (Ian Mune). Smith takes off to the Coromandel. Meanwhile, the Government has enlisted an anti-terrorist force to viciously crack down on its opponents. Bullen, now a guerrilla, asks Smith to join the revolution. Directed by Roger Donaldson, this 1977 adaptation of CK Stead's novel Smith's Dream heralded a new wave of Kiwi cinema; it was one of the decade's only local films to win a sizable audience at home. This excerpt includes a much talked about scene: a baton charge by government forces.
In late 2012 Campbell Live showed that dogs could be taught new tricks, when canines Monty and Porter got behind the wheel of a Mini Countryman and took it for a racetrack spin. On 10 December in a "world first" live test drive, Monty went solo and Porter (nearly) drove reporter Tristram Clayton around a bend. The following night saw definitive evidence that dogs can turn corners. The stunt was an SPCA campaign to change perception about the intelligence of rescued canines. Animal wrangler Mark Vette trained the driving dogs, who attracted global media attention.
Bob Stenhouse worked largely alone to visualise this luminously-animated ode to the "nation of drunkards" (as New Zealand was tagged in the House of Lords in 1838). A shepherd tricks a Mackenzie barman out of a bottle of ‘Hokonui Lightning', but too much pioneer spirit sees him haunted by the devil's daughter. In 1986 Frog was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Short; later an animation festival in Annecy, France judged it one of the best animated films made that century. A short 'making of' clip at the end offers hints of the hard work behind the film's distinctive look.
After adapting the slimy transmogrifying Wilberforces of Maurice Gee novel Under the Mountain for the small screen, scriptwriter (and future sci-fi novelist) Ken Catran returned with his own tale of kids and extraterrestrial contact. The series follows holidaying teen Gretchen (Sarah Dunn) trying to unravel the mystery of a weathervane — a "daisy rod" which seems to have otherworldly powers — and curious objects found in a tapu swamp. Backing up this girl-power sci-fi adventure are Catherine Wilkin, Roy Billing and Utu star Zac Wallace.
This New Zealand Now edition looks at working dogs. A brief look at show dogs makes way for a Timaru sheep farmer conducting six border collies to round up a mob of ewes. Elsewhere pig dogs bail up a wild boar; rabbit hunters use spaniels to flush their prey; retrievers aid pheasant and duck shooters; and off goes the hare for the greyhound to chase. The attitude to imported species (seen as game rather than as environmental pests) dates the film to an acclimatisation society era, and the close relationship between man and dog provides enduring fascination.