NZ On Air is 30 years old! Over three decades, countless stories and songs reflecting New Zealand's culture and identity have been created, thanks to the organisation's investment of public funds. To celebrate this milestone, NZ On Air asked well-known Kiwis to reflect on a programme or song from the past 30 years that has stuck with them — then asked some of those who worked behind the scenes to provide their perspective. Plus Ruth Harley, the first boss of NZ On Air, describes how it all began.
NZ On Air began funding local content in 1989. Timing in with the launch of a new funding system, this collection looks back at the 20 most watched NZ On Air-funded programmes over the years (aside from news and sports). Ratings information is only available from 1995, so this is how things have shaped up from 1995 to 2016 — plus some bonus titles. Most of the Top 20 has been captioned. Ex NZ On Air exec Kathryn Quirk tells us here how the complete list rated, while original NZOA boss Ruth Harley remembers how it all began.
Lucy Lawless gets her share of outdoor adventure in this 1993 excerpt from travel show Holiday, which ranged across New Zealand and beyond. Heading to Queenstown, the winter glamour capital, Lawless finds exciting ways to experience the magnificent scenery. She straps on her skis and hits the slopes, trying standard and cross country skiing (easier on the joints). Then it's onto skidoo riding, tandem hang gliding and after steeling herself, the main event — a bungy jump from a helicopter. Lawless went on to win fame in 1995 with TV series Xena: Warrior Princess.
Thanks to NZ On Air's support, The X Factor gave New Zealand performers a primetime platform, created excitement and controversy and drew huge, committed audiences. Former Olympian Barbara Kendall explains why she enjoyed the Kiwi version of the show so much, and why one contestant in particular caught her attention. Then X Factor executive producer Andrew Szusterman shares how this "massive, massive show" came to New Zealand, and celebrates the distinct, Kiwi flavour it took on — one example being Stan Walker's judging style.
Since 2009, the contribution of 7 Days to the Kiwi comedy scene has been enormous. In this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday, former executive producer Jon Bridges traces the show's history back to a group of comedians deciding to film a pilot in TV3's basement. Since then the irreverent, topical panel show has become a Friday night staple. To the comedians and writers, it's a vital place to hone skills and build a career. Host Jeremy Corbett argues that the key to 7 Days' success is relatability: Kiwi audiences feel like they can 'join in' the conversation— and the insults.
From its impressive cinematography, to its broad range of stories and characters, Country Calendar reflects the backbone of New Zealand culture. The country's longest-running television show still tops the NZ On Air Top 10 most weeks. TV producer Jon Bridges, Governor-General Patsy Reddy and broadcasting minister Kris Faafoi are among those reflecting on the show’s importance, in this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday. TVNZ executive Andrew Shaw provides 'The Inside Story', and muses on how the show really belongs to all New Zealanders.
Since 1981, generations of tamariki have grown up with What Now?’s weekend shenanigans. Who didn’t want to be gunged? The show's other magic ingredients are the kids of Aotearoa, and a series of young hosts who know how to have fun. In this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday, politician Kris Faafoi talks about watching the show while getting ready for Saturday morning sports. Faafoi's brother Jason was a What Now? presenter. Meanwhile former host Simon Barnett discusses his first day on the job (he was 21) — and how much he loved working on the iconic series.
Getting its start thanks to three years of NZ On Air funding, ‘Shorty Street’ has grown to become not only a commercial success, but an important training ground for many actors, writers and crew. Generations have grown up watching storylines and characters they can relate to. In this interview to celebrate NZ On Air's 30th birthday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern describes the impact of the show, and its importance to New Zealand culture. Actor John 'Lionel Skeggins' Leigh recalls the early days of working on the street, and the many adventures his character faced.
At a time when Pasifika people were rarely seen on-screen, Tagata Pasifika was a bastion of Pacific stories. For Oscar Kightley, it was "more than just a TV programme" — it meant on-screen representation for his Pasifika community. In this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday, Kightley also recalls how impressed his mum was with presenter Susana Hukui's "impeccable" dress sense. Veteran Tagata Pasifika producer Stephen Stehlin talks about working on one of Aotearoa's longest-running series, and the importance of presenting stories about our all-important "front yard".
Television presenter Hilary Barry praises whacky and "so dry" comedy series Wellington Paranormal in this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday. Barry talks about how the spin-off from What We Do In The Shadows is so different and understated that viewers tuning into halfway through could easily get confused. Writer/producer Paul Yates talks about rising respect for Kiwi comedy and how much of the show is ad-libbed, while Barry laughs about the great relationship between police officers O'Leary (Karen O'Leary) and Minogue (Mike Minogue).