Merv Smith, QSM, hosted a top-rating 1ZB breakfast radio slot for 26 years. His on-screen work also spanned decades. In 1957 he was part of a public demonstration of the new medium of television. After TV launched locally in the 1960s, Smith hosted variety shows and read news reports on the Wahine disaster. In the 70s he hosted game show Pop the Question and acted on The Mackenzie Affair (as a sheep rustler). Alongside work as a narrator, he lent his voice talents to award-winning short Aphrodite's Farm, and animated shows Buzzy Bee and Friends and Buzz & Poppy. Smith died on 24 September 2018. He was 85.
New Zealand's unique accent is often derided across the dutch for its vowel-mangling pronunciation ("sex fush'n'chups", anyone?) and being too fast-paced for tourists and Elton John to understand. In this documentary Jim Mora follows the evolution of New Zealand English, from the "colonial twang" to Billy T James. Linguist Elizabeth Gordon explains the infamous HRT (High Rising Terminal) at the end of sentences, and Mora interprets such phrases as "air gun" ("how are you going?"). Lynn of Tawa also features, in an accent face-off with Sam Neill and Judy Bailey.
In this excerpt from TVNZ Heartland’s look back at Kiwi TV history, presenter Andrew Shaw sits down with veteran broadcaster Paul Holmes to discuss his career. The 2010 korero begins with Holmes' comment that he initially saw broadcasting as a platform to pursue his acting aspirations. Holmes then ranges across tales of radio DJing and ratings wars; the challenges of his high profile transition to TV current affairs, and 15 years hosting his primetime show; and jumping ship to Prime, then returning to TVNZ to work on Q+A and Dancing with the Stars.
An echoey guitar instrumental called ‘White Rabbit’ made Peter Posa a huge star in 60s New Zealand. This 2003 Sunday report offers a ‘whatever happened to?’ style report on Posa’s life and career. Presenter Cameron Bennett catches up with the once prolific Posa in Kamo, Whangarei, where he learns of guitarist’s struggles with depression and alcoholism, the devotion of his wife Margaret and their salvation through faith — and his journey to performing again. Nine years later, a 'best of’ release of Posa’s music would top the NZ album charts.
The Farmers' Santa Parade is an iconic event in the lead-up to Christmas. Here, New Zealand's biggest Santa Parade is seen through the eyes of seven-year-old Sally. This is the 52nd annual parade, and the crowds pack Auckland's CBD to experience the excitement. The behind the scenes preparations include decorating floats, character dress ups, and a helicopter monitoring traffic and parking. As the parade winds its way through the streets, Sally waits for her big moment with the big red man himself — Santa Claus.
In 1969 Kiwi music legend John Rowles was in his early 20s, and flush with UK success: appearing on Top of the Pops and celebrating a single – ‘If I Only Had Time’ – which got to number three in the British charts. This fly on the wall documentary records his homecoming tour, complete with cigars, turtlenecks, rehearsals, press interviews, dancing, hongi and a civic reception in Kawerau (where he’d been fired from a mill job five years before, for arriving late). Rowles launches single ‘M’Lady’, soon to top the NZ charts, and reflects on how he's changed since leaving Kawerau.
Tonight with Cathy Saunders saw host Saunders taking the reins solo, following short-lived talk show Saunders and Sinclair, which she co-presented with radio personality Geoff Sinclair. Both shows debuted in 1985. Among Saunders' guests were Māori activist Donna Awatere Huata, Australian actor Vince Martin, and female impersonator Marcus Craig (aka Diamond Lil). Saunders combined PR and marketing jobs with her television gigs— including time as a panelist on Selwyn Toogood's advice show Beauty and the Beast.
This TVNZ documentary captures the early days of NewstalkZB, shortly after Radio New Zealand gambled on relaunching it with an all talk format. Previous breakfast host Merv Smith has taken most of his audience to rival Radio i; his replacement is Paul Holmes. The former king of the Wellington airwaves is soon grappling to make an impact in Auckland. Competition amongst the stations is cutthroat, but Holmes is the focal point here. He’s under pressure and surrounded by a battery of often conflicting opinions. By 1988 he'd hauled the show from ninth to second in the ratings.
Local news was a staple of pre-network 1960s NZ television, and retained its popularity in the network era. The amalgamation of TV1 and SPTV in 1980 produced regional shows The South Tonight and The Mainland Touch in the South Island, and Today Tonight in Wellington. Top Half covered the area spanning from Turangi to North Cape. It was presented for six years by the "dream team" of John Hawkesby and Judy Bailey (latter succeeded by Natalie Brunt in 1986). Amid some controversy, regional news on TVNZ was eased out by Holmes and the arrival of a new era of TV.
When television began broadcasting in Auckland in 1960, the news consisted of a days old bulletin from the BBC in London. A locally-compiled bulletin began before the end of the year, with occasional locally-filmed items. From 1962 to 1969 a five minute news summary screened at 7pm, with the longer NZBC Newsreel following at 8. TV news expanded rapidly through the 60s, with the NZBC setting up a network of newsrooms in the main centres. November 1969 marked the first time a shared news broadcast played nationwide, with the launch of the NZBC Network News.