'No 8 wire' Kiwi ingenuity is defined by problem solving from few resources (No 8 wire is fencing wire that can be adapted to many uses, an ability that was particularly handy for isolated NZ settlers). Embodied in heroes from Richard Pearse to PJ, Kiwi ingenuity is a quality dear to our national sense of self. It has been memorably celebrated, and sometimes satirised, on screen.
Kiwi Flyer (also known as Derby Dogs) sees 12-year-old Ben (Edward Hall) and his mate trying to win a local trolley derby in memory of Ben’s father. In their way are schoolboy loan sharks, competition from Australia — a family led by Wayne (Vince ‘Beaureparies’ Martin) — plus getting permission from Mum (Tandi Wright). There’s plenty of Boy’s Own action and slapstick (aided by comedian Dai Henwood playing a bumbling teacher), as Ben channels the DIY spirit and races for glory. Tony Simpson’s low-budget heartwarmer was based on Nelson’s annual Collingwood St Trolley Derby.
This episode of the Prime profile series follows a day in the life of driver Greg Murphy. The motorsport idol cycles to work — the Adelaide first round of the 2005 V8 Supercar series. There he adjusts to a new team after his 2004 Bathurst 1000 victory (the fourth time he's won the touring car race seen as the pinnacle of Australian motorsport). The down-to-earth Holden pinup charms sponsors and fans; discusses being an honorary Aussie; defends motor-racing as a sport; and when Murphy's gear-box blows it underlines his appreciation of success borne from struggle.
Clarke Gayford spends a day with the All Blacks' star first five-eighth. A thoroughly modern rugby player, Dan Carter talks about his underwear commercials and is seen in his Italian clothing store and being made up with fake sweat for a photo shoot. The flip side is an unwavering commitment to his craft, and a training and fitness regime that leaves Gayford gasping. Carter recalls his father building him goalposts in the backyard when he was a boy — and demonstrates the goal kicking technique that has made him the All Blacks’ leading points scorer.
Jim Greenhough profiles Colin 'Pinetree' Meads — NZ rugby’s Player of the Century — who represented his country in 133 matches from 1957 to 1971. He spends a day with the 71-year-old All Black legend on the King Country farm he has worked all his adult life. Meads drenches sheep and muses on rugby as it was, its modern incarnation, and the way new farming methods have changed the provincial game which was once the sport’s backbone. Photographer Peter Bush recalls his years of following and shooting Meads who, he says, has aged like a fine wine.
Motor racing ace Scott Dixon is the subject of this episode from a series about notable New Zealanders. At 26, he is already an IndyCar champion but he’s subbing in here to help his team win a gruelling nine hour race in the heat at Salt Lake City and clinch a lower graded championship. The cameras are given plenty of trackside access to a relaxed and apparently unflappable Dixon who wears his 'Iceman' nickname with ease. While a mid-race excursion off the track fails to threaten his composure, his mother doesn’t fare quite so well from her weekend.
This episode from the first season of the show celebrating Kiwi heroes pays tribute to the exemplar: Sir Edmund Hillary. The greatest "damned good adventures" of Sir Ed's career (up to then) are bagged: his first peak (Mt Ollivier — reclimbed with son Peter here), trans-Antarctic by tractor, up the Ganges by jet-boat, school and hospital building in Nepal; and of course Everest, whose ascent is recreated with commentary from Hillary. Graeme Dingle provides reflection and presenter Neil Roberts has the last word: "[Sir Ed:] our own bold, bloody-minded magic Kiwi".
Each episode of Extraordinary Kiwis shines a spotlight on a particular Kiwi and the activities that make them extraordinary. In this third season pilot, Clarke Gayford spends some time in Antarctica with scientist Victoria Metcalf, who investigates how fish survive in such extreme cold and their use as bellwethers for climate change. The "very Auckland" Gayford learns to fish amongst the seals. Dealing with hooks and bait in -20°C conditions is challenging for the self-described "sook in the cold", but Gayford proves pretty handy with a rod.
This fast-paced trip through Bruno Lawrence’s first 50 years combines interviews, clips from his many film and TV roles, and priceless material from the vaults (early acting parts, Edmund Hillary presenting Bruno with a Feltex). Bruno talks about favourite roles, the challenges of breaking into the US after hit Smash Palace, and the music-based film he long hoped to direct. LA Times critic Sheila Benson raves about both Bruno and Sam Neill. The Bruno interviews conducted for this doco would later win an extended airing in biographical doco Numero Bruno.
Fashion designer Trelise Cooper battles the clock in this Extraordinary Kiwis episode following a day in her life. With a major Australian show pending, make-up, music and more than 500 garments need to be ready (as well as her own wardrobe). Other areas of her business also need attention with local buyers and a sponsor to meet, and a school uniform design to present. Cooper is a whirl of activity, and a taskmaster to herself and her staff. But she also needs to make time to be a wife and a mother — and those trademark curls don’t look after themselves.