This edition of Prime TV’s history of New Zealand television looks at 50 years of entertainment. The smorgasbord of music, comedy and variety shows ranges from 60s pop stars to Popstars, from the anarchy of Blerta to the anarchy of Telethon, from Radio with Pictures to Dancing with the Stars. Music television moves from C’mon and country, to punk and hip hop videos. Comedy follows the formative Fred Dagg and Billy T, through to Eating Media Lunch and 7 Days. A roll call of New Zealand entertainers muse on seeing Kiwis laugh, sing and shimmy on the small screen.
This collection rounds up almost every music video for a number one hit by a Kiwi artist; everything from ballads to hip hop to glam rock. Press on the images below to find the hits for each decade — plus try this backgrounder by Michael Higgins, whose high speed history of local hits touches on the sometimes questionable ways past charts were created.
‘Black Box’ was the winning song for Australian Idol victor Stan Walker. His first music video was shot in Sydney two days after his triumph. It's set at a mansion poolside party, with Idol finalists and family members among the extras. The black box in question might hold the records of a romantic crash, not an aviation disaster, but this recriminatory look back at a failed relationship brought sweet success for Walker. It spent 10 consecutive weeks at the top of the New Zealand singles chart, and won four Tuis at the 2010 NZ Music Awards.
Australian Idol winner Stan Walker made his acting debut in Tearepa Kahi’s feature film Mt Zion, as a potato picker from Pukekohe who dreams of supporting his idol Bob Marley at Marley's 1979 Auckland concert. This song from the film’s soundtrack combines Mt Zion’s reggae sounds with Walker’s more R’n’B/soul style. The video mixes scenes from the film with a performance from Walker (displaying the tattoos that were deemed too modern for a period piece, and had to be covered up for the movie).
Television producer Gavin Wood has worked on some of New Zealand’s biggest game shows and live events. His first producing role saw him bring Sale of the Century to our screens, which was soon joined by Wheel of Fortune. His career path led him from TVNZ to TV3, then offshore working for FremantleMedia. Returning to New Zealand, Wood turned his producing talents to the third season of New Zealand Idol, TV coverage of the state funeral of Sir Paul Reeves, and the Pike River and Christchurch earthquake memorial services.
This Māori Television hit offers a down-home NZ Idol mixed with a little Fear Factor, as off the street talents sing three rounds of karaoke and try to win $1000. Hosts Te Hamua Nikora (Homai Te Pakipaki) and Luke Bird (The Stage - Haka Fusion) coax Lagitoa from Papatoetoe, Samantha from Pakuranga and Renee from Rotorua to belt out their favourite song. The show’s stripped back style allows lots of space for audience reactions (this time at Rotorua's night markets, and in Pakuranga). With encouragements in te reo and English, the contestants feel the fear and sing anyway.
TV executive Andrew Shaw has more than three decades of experience in the New Zealand TV industry, from being a teen heart-throb presenter, to directing and producing, to sitting on top of the heap as an executive at TVNZ.
Australian Idol winner Stan Walker made his acting debut in this hit feature, as aspiring singer Turei. Part of a whānau of Māori potato pickers from Pukekohe, he has to choose between duty to job and family (Temuera Morrison plays his hard-working Dad) and letting the music play. His dilemma takes place as reggae star Bob Marley performs in Aotearoa in 1979, offering the chance for Turei's band Small Axe to win a supporting slot at Marley's Western Springs concert. Released on Waitangi Day 2013, Tearepa Kahi's debut feature became the most successful local release of the year.
Inspired by her idol, the all-dancing, singing and acting Alaze Rhetoric, Kowhai forces Monty to attend dance lessons so they too can bring a triple threat. But hot Euro dance teacher Francine (voiced by Madeleine Sami) is blind to Kowhai’s self-proclaimed talent and only has eyes for Monty. The voices for Jessica Hansell’s 10-part web series about the music biz were recorded in a single afternoon, with crooner Frankie Stevens onboard as the twins’ ex-army dad. Comic use of a dairy doorbell merits special mention in this Aroha Bridge episode.
Stan Walker added to an impressive record of success when he collaborated with Ginny Blackmore for 2014 duet ‘Holding You’. The power ballad became the second Kiwi chart-topper for both artists, following Walker's 2009 debut ‘Black Box’, and Blackmore’s widely played ‘Bones’. Both artists had already made a mark overseas: Melbourne-born, NZ-raised Walker signed with Sony Music Australia after winning Australian Idol in 2009; Blackmore had signed a publishing deal while living in London.