For the 2009 final of this iconic Kiwi game show, Taupō — "the spiritual home of trout", according to host Mikey Havoc — takes on Whakatāne. Civic pride is, as always, on the line. The crowd at Christchurch's Jellie Park are amped as two fit and motivated teams fling their bodies against a giant, inflatable obstacle course and compete in rounds with names like Rolling Road and Roller Derby. Hosts Mikey Havoc, Marc Ellis ( whose voice is taking a beating) and Hayley Holt quiz the teams poolside, while commentator Nathan Rarere enjoys skewering a long list of sporting cliches.
In the mid 1970s the Chatham Island black robin was the world's rarest bird. With only two females left, the conservation ante was extreme. Enter saviour Don Merton and his Wildlife Service team. Their pioneering efforts ranged from abseiling the birds (including the 'Eve' of her species, 'Old Blue') down cliff faces, to left-field libido spurs. This 1988 Listener Film and TV award-winner united two earlier Wild South documentaries, and updated the robin’s rescue story to 1987. It originally screened on Christmas Day 1987, before being modified for this 1989 edition.
By 1976 there were only seven Chatham Islands black robins left. It was the world's rarest bird. In a bid to save the species, the surviving birds were taken from one island to another more hospitable island in a desperate rescue mission. This was part of an incredible conservation success story led by Don Merton and his NZ Wildlife Service team. Seven Black Robins and Project Takahē captured viewers' imaginations as part of an acclaimed series of 'rare bird' films that screened on TV series Wild South. They helped forge the reputation of TVNZ’s Natural History Unit (later NHNZ).
“These three birds are over half the world population of their species.” Peter Hayden’s narration lays bare the stakes for the Chatham Island black robin, and the Wildlife Service team (led by Don Merton) trying to save them. Merton’s innovative methods include removing eggs from nests – to encourage the last two females to lay again – and placing them in riroriro (grey warbler) foster homes. The black robin documentaries helped forge the reputation of TVNZ's Natural History Unit. Paul Stanley Ward writes about the documentaries here, and the mission to save the black robin.
Luke Nola is the creator of madcap children’s show Let’s Get Inventin’, which over seven seasons spawned awards, dozens of inventions — and 11 successful patents. The show screened in more than 30 countries. Nola began as a graphic designer, and the advertising world soon led him to television; he has also directed children’s shows Life on Ben and The Goober Brothers, in which he played one of the Goobers.