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.
As a showcase history of Christchurch on screen this collection is backwards looking; but the devastation caused by the earthquakes gives it much more than nostalgic poignancy. As Russell Brown reflects in his introduction, the clips are mementos from, "a place whose face has changed". They testify to the buildings, culture and life of a city now lost, but sure to rise.
'No 8 wire' Kiwi ingenuity is defined by problem solving from few resources (No 8 wire is fencing wire that can be adapted to many uses, an ability that was particularly handy for isolated NZ settlers). Embodied in heroes from Richard Pearse to PJ, Kiwi ingenuity is a quality dear to our national sense of self. It has been memorably celebrated, and sometimes satirised, on screen.
For a small country from the edge of the world, achievements on the Olympic stage are badges — silver fern-on-black — of national pride: precious moments where we gained notice (even if it was Mum’s anthem playing on the dais). This legacy collection draws on archive footage, some rarely seen, to celebrate the stories behind Kiwis going for gold.
Celebrating the 75th anniversary of government filmmakers the National Film Unit, this collection pulls highlights from the 370+ wartime newsreels, tourism promos and Oscar nominees from the NFU which can be watched on NZ On Screen. Curated by NFU expert Clive Sowry, the collection includes backgrounders by Roger Horrocks, plus Film Unit alumni Sam Pillsbury, Paul Maunder, Arthur Everard and Lynton Diggle.
From early teleplay The Evening Paper to the edgy Outrageous Fortune, this episode of 50 Years of New Zealand Television talks drama and comedy. Key players, from actors to executives, recall a host of signposts in the development of storytelling on Kiwi TV screens. John Clarke recalls 1970s sitcom Buck's House; Paul Maunder remembers the drama that likely helped introduce the DPB; and TV executive John McRae recalls worries about the projected cost of global hit Hunter's Gold, and mentioning the word 'placenta' on the first episode of Shortland Street.
Every year thousands of hikers and cyclists head out on Spain's Camino de Santiago (also known as the 'Way of St James'), a famous Christian pilgrimage and network of trails leading to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Camino Skies focusses on six Kiwi and Aussie hikers all aged between 50 and 80, who team up to tackle the 800 kilometre journey together. They each have personal reasons for taking up the challenge, and as the miles clock up they become pilgrims, battling blisters, grief, and the niggles of age to reach their goals.
Taking as its subjects a boy discovering new sounds on the radio and a soundtrack that gives purpose to a woman’s life, ‘Misty Frequencies’ is a soulful hip-hop hymn to the power of music. Che Fu’s music video places the singer and his band in a giant Tetris-like computer game before plugging into a bush setting (locations representing his musical yin and yang of technology and passion?). A magic mushroom prefigures the tree ferns collapsing in a heap of CGI bricks. ‘Misty Frequencies’ won the 2002 APRA Silver Scroll for Che Fu and co-writer Godfrey de Grut.
This 2011 short, from director Jackie van Beek, follows a young woman couriering her uncle’s heart. In Safe Hands was based on a real life scandal involving Greenlane Hospital stocking a 'heart library' with organs from deceased patients. For decades the hearts were used for research purposes, often without parental consent. The Dunedin-shot film won Best Self-Funded Short Film at the 2012 NZ Film Awards (The Moas), after debuting at the 2012 NZ International Film Festival. Van Beek and producer Aaron Watson later collaborated on feature film The Inland Road (2017).
Not exactly a music video, more a prototype. This promo film clip for the Kiwi classic was taken from the band's appearance on the Aussie TV show Bandstand in 1964. It's black and white and very basic, but the band has zoot suits; high slung guitars, as was the way of the time; and all the right moves. A very young-looking Ray Columbus has the beginnings of a Beatles hair-do, and is forever captured in time doing the legendary 'mod's nod'. This was the first time a film clip of a band performing was used for promo purposes in NZ.