Hokonui Todd is a portrait of African statesman Sir Garfield Todd (1908 - 2002). Todd was an outspoken supporter of black right to self determination in Rhodesia (which became Zimbabwe in 1980, after a bloody civil war). Here Todd and wife Gracie reflect on their lives: from their "egalitarian" New Zealand upbringing; their arrival in Rhodesia as missionary farmers; Todd's time as Prime Minister; being imprisoned by Ian Smith's racist white regime (along with daughter Judith); to emerging as a "conscience of the country" burdened with postcolonial troubles.
Established in 1989, NZ On Air has funded many of the television shows featured on NZ On Screen. Compiled to mark the 25th anniversary in 2015, this collection features a range of TV content funded in the agency's first year. With one representative from each genre, there’s the self-titled Billy T James sitcom, Richard Driver documentary Hokonui Todd and kids puppet show Bidibidi. Tainui Stephens' classic Māori Battalion documentary represents Māori programming, while long-running TVNZ series Tagata Pasifika tags ‘minority interests’.
In this film two Kiwi larrikins, Sam and Jack (Alan Jervis and Pork Pie's Kelly Johnson) go on a road trip, seemingly fuelled by blokey banter. A pit stop at Hokonui Pub leads to shenanigans with a stolen road roller, varied shaggy dog stories and jail, before Sam has to return to the dreaded missus. The characters and scenarios were adapted from two of Barry Crump's novels featuring anti-hero Sam Cash: Hang on a Minute Mate and There and Back. Mate was made for TVNZ, and screened in late 1982. Pub spotters will appreciate the pub's high pressure hoses and five ounce glasses.
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.
Richard Driver began his showbiz career in a punk band, and calling himself Johnny Abort. He then moved on to the popular Kiwi rock bands Pop Mechanix and Hip Singles. Driver made his TV presenting debut replacing Karyn Hay on Radio with Pictures and hosted the show for three years. He later collaborated with Hay making music television for several years, ran the New Zealand arm of Screentime, and then formed his own company called Visionary Productions. Driver has made several influential documentaries such as Hokonui Todd, about the life of Garfield Todd, and Love, Speed and Loss, the story of bike racing star Kim Newcombe and his widow Janeen.
Chairman of company Greenstone TV, Richard Driver first broke into television as host of music show Radio with Pictures. After directing documentary Hokonui Todd, the ex singer ran production company Visionary TV and produced music series Give it a Whirl and award-winner Love, Speed and Loss. He went on to create and programme Sky TV's Documentary Channel for four years, before selling it to the BBC.
Though Pamela Meekings-Stewart's work as a producer and director ranges widely, she has often been drawn to documentaries involving women and the arts. Her ambitious, Feltex award-winning 1983 series Pioneer Women dramatises the lives of six women, from Princess Te Puea to Ettie Rout. These days, alongside filmmaking, she runs retreats from her farm in Pukerua Bay. Meekings-Stewart is sometimes credited as Pamela Jones.