NZ On Screen's Car Collection is loaded with vehicles of every make and vintage, as a line-up of legendary Kiwis get behind the wheel — some acting the part. The talent includes Bruce McLaren, Scott Dixon, Bruno Lawrence, a clever canine, and a great many bent fenders. Onetime car show host Danny Mulheron tells tales, and picks out some personal favourites here.
Car-mad Chinese immigrant Lin (Andy Wong) is in a whole heap of trouble in episode five of boy racer drama Ride With The Devil. Not only is he facing deportation for his involvement in a fatal car accident, local tough guy Pinky (Ali Foa'i) plans to deliver some street justice. Amy discovers why her mum Wendy (Lynette Forday) seems to anticipate her every move, but payback for frenemy Pony plays out in an unexpected way. Plus Wendy and driving instructor Graham's mutual attraction hits new heights just as Lin's troubles go into overdrive in the last quarter.
Anne and Gordon left high school unable to read or write to a basic level. This documentary follows their progress with the Auckland Adult Literacy Scheme, and culminates with the pair sitting the written and oral exam for their drivers' licence. Anne found innovative ways around the kids' bedtime stories, but froze when it came to filling in forms. Gordon has been driving illegally for years; he wants to ace his drivers' test and finds an acceptance within the Adult Literacy Scheme he never did at school. The First Hand series has a stripped back style, using small cameras and crews.
Called up at the start of World War II, George Shadbolt spent six years in the British Army. As a member of the Royal Corps of Signals he spent much of it behind the lines, installing and maintaining vital communications networks. Shadbolt — 99 at the time of this interview — covered 1000s of kilometres through North Africa and the Middle East. It wasn’t until late in the war that he saw action in Italy, bringing communications lines to tanks at the front. The task offered little protection; Shadbolt deemed it the army's most dangerous job. Shadbolt passed away on 9 August 2017.
In the first of this two-part documentary about Kiwis and cars, actor Rima Te Wiata sets off on a road tour of New Zealand. Starting in the South Island, Te Wiata learns about the first bus tours to Aoraki, which were handled by the Mount Cook Motor Company. Then she travels to Westport via the infamous Hawks Crag, and hears from locals about the difficulties and dangers of transit before the introduction of cars. A trip back up the country takes Te Wiata to Northland, where the locals suggest they may have been better off when the primary mode of transport was by boat.
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.
Florian Habicht first won attention for 2003's Woodenhead, a fairytale about a rubbish dump worker and a princess. By then Habicht had already made his first feature-length documentary. Many more docos have followed: films that celebrate his love for people, and sometimes drift into fantasy. In this collection, watch as the idiosyncratic director meets fishermen, Kaikohe demolition derby drivers (both watchable in full), legends of Kiwi theatre and British pop, and beautiful women carrying slices of cake through New York. Ian Pryor writes here about the joys of Florian Habicht.
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.
By the mid 90s, popular TVNZ weatherman Jim Hickey had begun presenting things other than fronts and precipitation (e.g. Country Calendar, Shaky Beginnings). In 2000 he got his own series. This first episode of his TV One motoring show sees Marie Azcona report on the controversy surrounding the Model T Ford winning Car of the Century; Mark Leishman gives the lowdown on buying a car at an auction; guest Jim Mora vacuums his Audi; and host Hickey test drives the new Volkswagen with music journo and “old Beetle fan” Dylan Taite.
The Motor Show ran for three seasons, with legendary broadcaster Dougal Stevenson and Islay Benge (aka Islay McLeod) at the wheel. The show marked Stevenson's transition from newsreader to TV host, after a restructure of state television saw him choosing to remain in Wellington. The brainchild of producer Bill Earl, the series featured motor racing legend Chris Amon test driving vehicles (including a tractor), and Stevenson and Benge travelling the country to cover all things automotive. The theme music was taken from Jeff Wayne's 1978 album War of the Worlds.