The meteoric career of one of NZ’s greatest entertainers is examined in this documentary. John Rowles went from a Kawerau childhood to stardom in London at 21; but, after headlining in Hawaii and Las Vegas, he saw it all slip away. Those roofing ads and near bankruptcy followed, but Rowles has retained his self belief and that voice. A stellar cast of interviewees analyse his strengths and weaknesses, including Sir Cliff Richard, Tom Jones, Neil Finn and late promoter Phil Warren. Amongst the star cameos, John’s sister Cheryl Moana explains the downside of his best-known local hit.
Two presenters are tricked into visiting Rotorua in the fourth series of Māori youth magazine show I AM TV. Host Taupunakohe Tocker excitedly tells Kimo Holtham and Chey Milne they are being sent to Las Vegas, but instead they end up in 'Rotovegas'. Holtham and Milne tour around Rotorua diving for coins at Whakarewarewa Village, eating corn cooked in geothermal water, and meeting locals, including musician JJ Rika. Tocker interviews Tiki Taane and ropes pedestrians in to do air guitar, while Stan Walker shows what it's like backstage at his Auckland concert.
K' Rd Stories was a 2015 series of shorts celebrating one of Auckland’s most colourful strips. In this entry, Dan and Dwayne are “two lovable hustlers with an entrepreneurial spirit trying to scratch a living on the fringes of K Road”. $cratch documents the pair’s efforts to gain entry to the Las Vegas strip club, set up a pop-up tinny shop, and find a girlfriend (“a lot of girlfriends I had in the past gave me nothing but children!”). Dwayne is played by Dwayne Sisson, who co-starred with $cratch director Clint Rarm in Zoe McIntosh’s 2013 rogue-life tale The Deadly Ponies Gang.
Hip Hop-eration chronicles a mission to bust some moves, and demonstrate that ageing need not be a barrier to joy. The stars of this documentary are a group of self-deprecating, young at heart Waiheke Islanders — some in their 90s — who head to Las Vegas to compete in the World Hip Hop Championships. Hip Hop-eration won Moa awards for Best Documentary and Documentary Director, plus rave reviews from Metro, The Dominion Post and the Herald's Francesca Rudkin; Rudkin called the film heartwarming:"full of laughs, colourful characters and Kiwi attitude".
This 2003 documentary examines what drove two of New Zealand’s most internationally successful golfers. Future 2005 US Open champion Michael Campbell and Phillip Tataurangi look back on their careers to date, and the part played by their Māori ancestry. Their natural talents are set against the hard work, supportive whānau and determination required to succeed on golf’s biggest stages: fro both being part of the Kiwi team that won the Eisenhower Trophy in 1992 to success as professionals on PGA and European Tours. Campbell retired in 2015.
'The White Rabbit' was two minutes of surf guitar meets country music that made Peter Posa a household name in the 1960s, and led to encounters in Las Vegas with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. In May 1984 Posa got out his golden guitar and performed the beloved guitar instrumental to an enthusiastic audience, on TV show That’s Country. In 2012 he told Stuff’s Vicki Anderson: "It was heaven to play at the Christchurch Town Hall. The better the acoustics the better you play." Posa had a late career resurgence in 2012 when a 'best of' album debuted atop the Kiwi album charts.
Kawerau-raised John Rowles was inspired to become a singer after witnessing Māori showbands like The Howard Morrison Quartet. Following varied musical ventures in Australia, he was invited to England by manager Peter Gormley, to join Gormley's roster of ballad singers like Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck. Ballad 'If I Only had Time' got to three on the UK charts in 1968; fourth single 'M'Lady' did best in Aotearoa. In the 70s Rowles became a nightclub fixture in Honolulu and Las Vegas, punctuated by occasional NZ hits and tours. By the 80s he was living in Australia. His autobiography landed in 2012.
Being the sole music video Solid Gold Hell ever produced, the Flying Nun band made sure it was top shelf. However given conspicuous consumption levels, one might conclude they hadn't intended the clip for a mainstream audience. "We shot some of it at the Las Vegas Strip Club. Not sure why we are playing cards and smoking a lot - it seemed like a good idea and worked well for the lighting. I'm particularly proud of my custom made sock garters, which make a brief appearance." Guitarist Matthew Heine - March 09
Born in England, Rob Guest started out as a pop singer in NZ on 70s TV shows such as Happen Inn. Guest then performed in Las Vegas through the 80s. In the 90s, his distinguished career in Australasian musical theatre began, with lead roles in Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera. Guest also worked as a TV host, most notably on the Aussie series Man O Man. Guest died in October 2008 after suffering a stroke.
New Zealander Bill Gavin began his film career in the United Kingdom. After arranging finance for everything from The Killing Fields to Sid and Nancy, he returned home in the 90s to produce a number of features, including What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? and Jubilee. During two years as Head of Feature Films at South Pacific Pictures, he helped develop and finance 2002 hit Whale Rider.