Wellington’s Today Tonight was one of four regional news shows launched by TVNZ in 1980. Over the years its hosts included Roger Gascoigne, Mark Leishman and Mike Bodnar. The show covered the local news from the pre-Wellywood, pre-’Absolutely Positively’ era: from restaurateur Remiro Bresolin’s Venetian mural, and a Philip Rush midwinter swim to work (across the harbour); to show stalwart Bas Tubert doing an offbeat Lady and the Tramp number for the Botanic Gardens tulip festival, and Beehive whimsy when David Lange (PM) meets David Lange (farmer).
This iconic travelling game show saw teams representing New Zealand towns pitted against each other, in a series of colourful physical challenges. Top Town was run over a series of weekly heats, staged in different towns on local sports fields. It leveraged nostalgia for a fast fading time when New Zealand's population (and identity) resided in rural hub towns. The series was light-hearted light entertainment gold — but the battle for civic bragging rights was serious stuff. Top Town screened for 14 years from 1976 until 1990; it returned for another season in 2009.
This long-running travelling TV game show pitted towns against each other in a series of colourful physical challenges. The 1986 final takes place at Lower Hutt’s Fraser Park, where teams from Alexandra, Timaru, Whangarei (including future All Black Ian Jones) and Waihi compete for civic bragging rights. Hosted by Bill McCarthy and Paddy O’Donnell, with officials Melissa (Miss Top Town) and champion Olympic kayaker Ian Ferguson. A Taniwha, cross-dressing cheer squads, a Para Pool, and slippery slope, all make for much light entertainment malarkey.
Clash of the Codes was a show that pitted teams representing various sports against each other in a series of physical challenges (obstacle courses, mud runs and stair climbs etc). In the made-for-TV battle for code bragging rights the traditional heavyweights (rugby, rowing) were challenged by strivers from the newer codes (eg. Olympic canoeing champ Ian Ferguson, Coast to Coast multisporter Steve Gurney, and young then-unknown triathlete Hamish Carter). Four series were made; the first three were hosted by Simon Barnett and the last by Robert Rakete.
Clash of the Codes was a made-for-TV series that pitted teams representing various sports against each other in a series of devised physical challenges. In this final episode from the first series, rowing and canoeing are the frontrunners, with plenty of Olympic podium experience on both teams (Ian Ferguson, Eric Verdonk and Chris White, plus world champ sculler Phillipa Baker). They tackle a steep bush rescue and the army confidence course at Whangaparaoa Peninsula. A young Marc Ellis (rugby) gets early practice playing the larrikin onscreen.
In 1986 New Zealand applied the celebrity choir approach to promote Team NZ’s first tilt at the America’s Cup, with a host of musicians, broadcasters, sportspeople raising their voices in unison. The singers include Bunny Walters, Suzanne Day and Suzanne Prentice, plus Barry Crump, Roger Gascoigne, Precious McKenzie and Ian Ferguson. The 1987 challenge failed and All of Us remained a one-off; but one of its contributors, Dave Dobbyn, later put a lock on the Team NZ anthem with his own song ‘Loyal’.
Radio DJ Simon Barnett has done his share of television too. His screen debut was as a presenter on long-running kids’ show What Now?.
Radio DJ Simon Barnett has also done his share of television — and the odd movie. His screen debut was as a presenter on long-running kids’ show What Now?. He went on to host a range of other series including Face the Music, Clash of the Codes, Wheel of Fortune and Sing Like a Superstar. In 2015 he won reality TV show Dancing with the Stars.
Alongside more than 50 years as a radio personality, Barry Holland has appeared on New Zealand TV screens many times. Holland has been a weather presenter and newsreader, and has commentated the Olympic Games and America’s Cup. He was also the presenter on a number of popular TV shows, including On the Mat, Top Town and Sunday Afternoon Sportsworld.