Collection

Top 40 NZ TV Classics

Curated by NZ On Screen team

This collection of 40 classic Kiwi TV series offers up images spanning 50 years. The titles range from Gloss to Gliding On, from Olly Ohlson to Nice One Stu, from Ready to Roll to wrestlers. In this special backgrounder, Stuff's James Croot writes about favourite moments of Kiwi TV. The list is in rough chronological order of when each series debuted.

Gang Girl - Tarnz Story

Television, 2005 (Excerpts)

Teenage gang girl Tarnz speaks with brutal honesty about her extraordinary life in this documentary. From Maraenui, Napier, Tarnz formed her own girl gang in her teens, amassed 13 convictions and was imprisoned three times. Gang Girl - Tarnz Story was a finalist at the 2007 Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival in Canada. It was made alongside another girl gang documentary, Mob Daughters; both documentaries were produced by Front of the Box Productions and screened on TV2. 

Gang Girls

Television, 2003 (Excerpts)

Gang Girls tells the story of seven women who have spent time in New Zealand’s most notorious gangs. The expose of gang women in Aotearoa features hard-hitting and emotional interviews. Winner of a Qantas Media Award for Best Documentary and nominated for three NZ Television Awards, it was produced by Claudette Hauiti's Front of the Box Productions. The company went on to to make two half-hour documentaries on teenage girl gangs: Gang Girl – Tarnz Story and Mob Daughters.

Dead Certs

Television, 1995 (Full Length)

Made for Montana Sunday Theatre, Dead Certs provides rare starring roles for talents Rawiri Paratene and Ginette McDonald. Paratene won a Television Award for his acting, and also co-wrote the script (with director Ian Mune), which he began writing on a Burns Fellowship. Paratene plays Hare Hohepa, whose dreams of a winning bet that will allow him to escape his down'n'out existence take an unusual turn: his friend Martha (McDonald) expires after some drinks, then returns in ghostly form to encourage him to keep betting. So begins a dream run at the TAB.

Boy

Film, 2010 (Trailer, Excerpts, and Extras)

Taika Waititi's blockbuster second movie revolves around an imaginative 11-year-old East Coast boy (James Rolleston) trying to make sense of his world — and the return of his just-out-of-jail father (Waititi). Intended as a "painful comedy of growing up", Boy mixes poignancy with trademark whimsy and visual inventiveness. The film was shot in the Bay of Plenty area where Waititi partly grew up. A winner in its section at the 2010 Berlin Film Festival, Boy soon became the most successful local release on its home soil (at least until the arrival of Waititi's 2016 hit Hunt for the Wilderpeople).

The Dark Horse

Film, 2014 (Trailer)

The Dark Horse is the story of a Māori ex-speed chess champ who must “overcome prejudice and violence in the battle to save his struggling chess club, his family and ultimately, himself”. Genesis Potini has a bi-polar disorder; his nephew Mana (Boy’s James Rolleston) faces being pressed into a gang. A near unrecognisable Cliff Curtis won international acclaim as Potini. James Napier Robertson's acclaimed second feature was picked to opened the 2014 Auckland and Wellington Film Festival, and scored six Moa awards, including Best Picture, Director, Actor and Supporting Actor.

Once Were Warriors

Film, 1994 (Trailer, Excerpts, and Extras)

Once Were Warriors opened the eyes of cinemagoers around the globe to an unexamined aspect of modern New Zealand life. Director Lee Tamahori's hard-hitting depiction of domestic and gang violence amongst an urban Māori whānau was adapted from the best-selling Alan Duff novel. The film provided career-defining roles for Temuera Morrison and Rena Owen as Jake the Muss and Beth Heke. It remains NZ's most watched local release in terms of bums on seats. Among a trio of backgrounders, Riwia Brown writes about adapting Duff's book for the screen.

System Virtue

Emma Paki, Music Video, 1993

This evocative music video scored a double-header: it was voted best video at both the NZ Music Awards, and the NZ Film and Television Awards. Emma Paki won gongs for singing and songwriting. Director Josh Frizzell mixes images of Paki singing on the streets with often sombre portraits of locals in their element, from children to gang members. Widely regarded as Paki's magnum opus, System Virtue became one of the most played local music videos of 1994. Killing Joke's Jaz Coleman produced the song; a much lusher version later appeared on 1996 album Oxygen of Love

The Hui: Ngā Mōrehu - Survivors of State Abuse

Television, 2017 (Full Length Episode)

In this acclaimed investigation for Three's current affairs show The Hui, Mihingarangi Forbes interviews four Māori men who were victims of abuse while in state care as boys. They talk about the lead-up to being in custody, the mental, physical and sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of other wards and staff, and the cycle it created. The screening drew public attention to systemic abuse, and played a key role in provoking the government to launch an official inquiry the following year. Warning: contains confronting themes and language. 

Ōtara - Defying the Odds

Television, 1998 (Full Length)

Postwar Māori, Pākehā and Pacific Island migrants made Ōtara the fastest growing area in New Zealand. But as local industries closed, it became a poster suburb for poverty and crime. This TV3 Inside New Zealand documentary sees eight successes from Ōtara telling their stories — from actor Rawiri Paretene and MP Tau Henare, to teachers and entrepreneurs. They reflect on mean streets, education, community and the Ōtara spirit. The first documentary from Ōtara-raised producer Rhonda Kite (who is also interviewed), it won Best Māori Programme at the 1999 NZ TV Awards.