This episode of current affairs show Close Up offers a fascinating portrait of the early days of New Zealand's foreign exchange market. Reporter Ted Sheehan heads into "the pit" (trading room), and chronicles the working life of a senior forex dealer, 25-year-old accountancy graduate John Key. The "smiling assassin" (and future Prime Minister) is a calm and earnest presence amongst the young cowboys playing for fortunes and Porsches, months before the 1987 sharemarket crash. As Sheehan says, "they're like addicts who eat, breathe and sleep foreign exchange dealing".
This best of special culls history and highlights from 40 seasons of the longest running show on NZ television. Farming, forestry and fishing are all on the roster, but this edition is as much about observing people and the land. There is footage of high country musters, helicopter deer capture, floods and blizzards, as well as radio-controlled dogs and mice farmers. Longtime Country Calendar figures like John Gordon and Tony Trotter share their memories, and the show sets out to catch up again with some of the colourful New Zealanders that have featured on screen.
A wandering fortune teller parks her house truck in Hokitika on a mission to find the daughter she gave up for adoption. This is Magik. One of her first clients, a young happily married chemist's assistant, is seeking a solution to her infertility. This is Rose. Magik, too, is resolved to have another child, but without having to keep the father around. They embark on a joint odyssey for love, sex and pregnancy in writer/director Vanessa Alexander’s feature debut (made when she was 28). David Stratton in Variety praised the film’s "disarmingly sweet treatment".
Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an eponymous inner city Auckland hospital. A South Pacific Pictures production, the iconic show is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week, and in 2012 the show celebrated its 20th anniversary making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture, most famously, “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!”. Mihi Murray writes about the show here.
Allan Martin, OBE, worked as a television executive on both sides of the Tasman, but had his roots in programme making. He began making TV in England in the early 60s. Returning home, he developed influential programmes for the NZBC in Compass and Town and Around. Headhunted by the ABC in Australia, he returned to NZ in 1975 to set up the new second channel, and later became Director-General of TVNZ.
The prolific Dale Bradley has produced and directed feature films on both sides of the Tasman. After setting up company Daybreak Pictures with his brother Grant, and directing his first feature, Gallipoli tale Chunuk Bair, Dale Bradley developed and directed movies in New Zealand and then Australia. In 2013 the Bradleys established NZ/UK-based company Aristos Films.
The career of Grant Bradley demonstrates that New Zealand producers can find many sources to fund their movies, beyond the beaten path to the Film Commission. Bradley set up company Daybreak Pictures in 1990. After producing more than 20 titles for Daybreak, he relocated to Australia in 2008 with his brother Dale. The duo established NZ and UK-based company Aristos Films in 2013.
Director Michael Firth was an unheralded figure in the Kiwi film renaissance. His debut movie, ski film Off the Edge, was the first NZ feature to be Oscar-nominated. Noted US critic Andrew Sarris praised 1985 drama Sylvia, based on Kiwi teacher Sylvia Ashton-Warner, as one of the best films released that year. Firth's subjects ranged from incest to fly-fishing; his TV series Adrenalize sold to 50 countries. He passed away on 9 October 2016.
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.