Billy Taitoko James is a Kiwi entertainment legend. His iconic ‘bro’ giggle was infectious and his gags universally beloved. This collection celebrates his screen legacy, life and inimitable brand of comedy: from the skits (Te News, Turangi Vice), to the show-stealing cameos (The Tainuia Kid), and the stories behind the yellow towel and black singlet.
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.
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.
One October night In 1938 Orson Welles famously fooled radio listeners into believing that the United States was under attack from martians. New Zealand’s War of the Worlds moment arguably came in 1995, when directors Costa Botes and Peter Jackson unleashed moviemaker Colin McKenzie on an audience of unsuspecting patriots. Forgotten Silver joined a sly tradition of on screen Kiwi leg-pulling: from turkeys in gumboots and John Clarke as a rock star, to fence-playing farmer musicians, phallic molluscs and Māori porn stars.
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.
This July 1977 Seven Days report tunes in to Radio 1XX Whakatane, NZ’s then-smallest private radio station. Coastline Radio has been giving the Eastern Bay of Plenty its own MOR voice for six years. Seven Days reveals tensions between DJs in cut-throat jousting for spots. On-trial Breakfast DJ John Adeane describes his job as “personality projection” as he chugs on a Camel and rouses “the country giant”. He warns of the danger of being “an attractive proposition to the girls in town”, and describes behind the scenes activities during the religious programming.
A talkback radio operator (Lucy Sheehan) is forced to stand in for the regular host when he walks out because of a personal crisis. In between trying to answer calls, organize a replacement and discuss odd topics with a succession of callers, the flustered operator makes a surprising connection with another lost soul. Auckland's urban soul is captured with distinctive assurance in this neglected 48-minute drama from director Alison Maclean — who wrote the script with Geoff Chapple.
Designed to inspire school leavers to find their career, Pathways sees a selection of young New Zealanders talk about their job paths. The pilot episode of this 1994 Careers NZ resource is bookended with a 'mini-drama' about young people flatting together, which includes some familiar faces. Karl Urban plays lazy surfer Wayne, while Robbie Magasiva is the sales assistant whose plans of climbing the career ladder go awry. Marcus Lush plays a DJ who links a series of interviews with people either working or training. Later Lush interviews experts on youth employment prospects.
This Weekend item from 1986 meets the team behind Radio New Zealand’s flagship show Morning Report, from hosts Geoff Robinson and Maggie Barry, to reporters and programmers. Robinson — who would host or co-host Morning Report for 35 years — talks about listener loyalty, the intimacy of radio, and rejecting BBC style delivery. Meanwhile co-host Maggie Barry — at 26, the show’s youngest host and its first woman presenter — reflects on the importance of being a morning person. Barry would later host a popular garden TV show, and became a National Party MP in 2011.
NZ On Screen’s Dunedin Collection offers up the sights and sounds of a city edged by ocean, and famed for its music. Dunedin is a bracing mixture of old and new: of Victorian buildings and waves of fresh-faced students, many of them carrying guitars. As Dave Cull reflects in his introduction, it is a city where distance is no barrier to creativity and innovation.