On 8 June 1987 Nuclear-free New Zealand became law. This collection honours the principles and people behind the policy. Prime Minister Norman Kirk put it like this: "I don't think New Zealand's a doormat. I think we've got rights — we're a small country but we've got equal rights, and we're going to assert them." In the backgrounder, journalist Tim Watkin explores the twists and turns of Aotearoa's nuclear history.
This first episode of this 2013 crime drama begins with a meth-fuelled bank heist gone very wrong. Harry is a Samoan-Kiwi detective (played by Oscar Kightley, a million miles away from Morningside) pursuing justice in South Auckland. Sam Neill, in his first role on a Kiwi TV series, plays Harry’s detective buddy. Off the case, Harry struggles with his teen daughter in the wake of his wife’s suicide. The Chris Dudman-directed series screened for a season on TV3. Broadcaster John Campbell tweeted: “Not remotely suitable for kids. But nor are many excellent things.”
This collection showcases Aotearoa Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender screen production. The journey to Shortland Street civil unions, rainbows in Parliament and the Big Gay Out is one of pride, but also one of secrets, shame and discrimination. As Peter Wells writes in this introduction, the titles are testament to a — joyful, defiant — struggle to "fight to exist".
Vocal harmony group Purest Form was discovered when the manager of Rainbow’s End saw them busking in downtown Auckland. Their smooth harmonies were used to promote the amusement park — “take me back to the rainbow, that rainbow kinda magic!” — in a 1993 commercial. Before splitting in 1997, they got four singles in the Kiwi top 40. Their cover of ‘Message to My Girl’ peaked at number two, and won Single of the Year at the 1995 NZ Music Awards; Purest Form was also nominated for Most Promising Group.
A couple of years before Backstreet Boys ruled global pop charts, there was Purest Form. This 1994 cover of the Split Enz song was the biggest hit for the New Zealand vocal harmony group (who a year earlier had gained amusement park immortality, by lending their smooth sounds to a Rainbow’s End commercial). Co-produced by ex-Split Enz keyboardist Eddie Rayner, ‘Message’ peaked at number two, and won Single of the Year at the 1995 NZ Music Awards. The song’s no-frills music video sees the crooners walk and cartwheel down a beach in a catalogue of 90s fashion.
Wildtrack was a highly successful nature series for children, running from 1981 through several series to the early 90s. The series was produced from Natural History New Zealand’s (then TVNZ’s Natural History Unit) Dunedin base and this final episode for 1990 looks at the natural world of the Otago Peninsula and harbour, from unique inhabitants: royal albatross, fur seals, and yellow-eyed penguin; to myth-busting explanations of the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, lichen, and mudflat cricket. It includes the year’s bloopers reel.
The capture and release of the French agents who bombed the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior was not the end of the affair. This film documents the circumstances of the crime, but is focused on efforts by Greenpeace, and artist Chris Booth to create a sense of emotional closure. Booth worked with the Ngāti Kura people of Matauri Bay to create a sculpture marking the Warrior's last resting place. The film interweaves the back story of the bombing with sequences showing the efforts to finish the sculpture in time for commemorations.
Eight years after debuting on TV sketch show Funny Business, Lucy Lawless won international fame for her starring role on Xena: Warrior Princess. The series won her a devoted fan following, and invitations to guest-star on everything from The Simpsons to Bro' Town. Since the end of Xena's six season run, Lawless has mainly acted for American television, including a role as bad girl Lucretia in locally-shot series Spartacus.
Heather Bolton impressed critics with one of her earliest screen performances: as the heroine battling a haunted car in Gaylene Preston's 1985 debut feature Mr Wrong. Bolton won a GOFTA award for her pains, then scored more awards for smaller roles in romance Arriving Tuesday and goldmining classic Illustrious Energy. After starring as the legendary radio host in touring stage show Aunt Daisy! The Musical (1991), she relocated to Australia. Since then Bolton has taken on more screen roles — including co-starring in a 2007 movie adaptation of Hamlet — while creating and acting in plays for Melbourne's Ranters Theatre.
If the measure of success for a casting director is the subsequent success of the actors they pluck from the crowd, then Diana Rowan has certainly done time at the top of her field. She is the casting director who helped Anna Paquin, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Kerry Fox and Lucy Lawless on their way to international careers, while developing her own talents as a writer and director of short films.