Some of New Zealand's most memorable screen images have come from the genre of science fiction: Bruno wandering man alone onto Eden Park in a nightie; giant slugs living under Rangitoto. From alien hunters to futuristic fuel wars to nuclear volcanoes, this collection is a showcase of film and TV that has imagined 'what if?' versions of life in the shaky isles.
From the icons (Sky Tower, Otara Market, Rangitoto, The Bridge), celebs, clans and stereotypes (Jafas), to the streets (Queen St, K Road), and Super City suburbs (Ferndale, Mt Raskill, Morningside), this collection celebrates Auckland onscreen. Reel through the moods and the multicultural, metro, muggy charms of New Zealand’s largest city. In this backgrounder, No. 2 director Toa Fraser writes about Auckland as a place of myth, diversity and broken jaws.
In this short film Peter Wells makes a personal 'Postcard from New Zealand' as part of a series for England's Channel Four. Looking for a "Kiwi Greek god" to showcase his "Gay Lynn" garden, he enlists Richard, third place getter in Mr Gay Auckland. While posing Richard tells them about his costume for the Sydney Mardi Gras. "Skirt in the shape of Rangitoto, a hat like Auckland's Harbour Bridge: Dame Edna would've loved it". Richard models the costume which also features budgie smugglers with 'NZ' sequined into them, a Southern Cross singlet, and ugg-glove sheep puppets.
In this children's sci-fi caper, an all-singing all-dancing gang of cronies led by 'evil Eva' (Nevan Rowe) holds Auckland to ransom for $5,000,000. As in Under the Mountain Auckland's volcanoes play a starring role, with Eva threatening to drop a nuclear bomb into the crater of Rangitoto. Who will save the city? A trio of intrepid kids and their DIY anti-gravity machine are on the case. Writers Ian Mune and Keith Aberdein give director Roger Donaldson (and a bevy of industry talent) plenty of goofy 70s fun to play with. Donaldson would shortly helm the acclaimed Smash Palace.
This weather-themed Kiwi classic spent 21 weeks in the charts, and became one of DD Smash's biggest hits. The quirky, light-hearted video was played repeatedly on Saturday chart show Ready to Roll, and won Best Music Video at the 1983 New Zealand Music Awards. It was directed by a young Andrew Shaw (of Hey Hey It’s Andy fame, later an executive at TVNZ). DD Smash singer/songwriter Dave Dobbyn hams it up in Adidas tracksuit and yellow raincoat, while drummer (and 1980s heartthrob) Peter 'Rooda' Warren appears in his speedos.
TV3 celebrated its launch with a two-hour special featuring music, montages, and a Māori welcome. Aotearoa's first new television channel in more than two decades went to air on 26 November 1989, after years of meetings, hard graft and competing bidders. This clip of TV3's first ten minutes creates a party atmosphere of smiling happy faces. Dave Dobbyn and dancers get energetic in promotional song 'Get the Feeling', then Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves pulls the launch lever. Also featured are appearances by a wide array of Kiwis, from children to soldiers to Sam Hunt.
In the first 10 minutes of this TV3 comedy, Axl (Emmett Skilton) has a close shave outside the bottle store on the eve of his 21st birthday. But that’s nothing compared to the meteors, earthquake and a blood red Mission Bay that follow. By the end of the episode, Axl learns that he and his Kiwi bloke older brothers are also Norse gods. From Outrageous Fortune creators James Griffin and Rachel Lang, the light-hearted lad fantasy saga gained a loyal following and — in a rare example of a Kiwi TV export to the US — the three seasons screened on the SyFy channel from July 2014.
Auckland is known as the City of Sails and each Anniversary Day, the Waitemata Harbour hosts the world’s largest one-day regatta. The culture of yachting on the Hauraki Gulf gets full-blown homage in this 1968 National Film Unit film. The short documentary sets up sailing as a way to escape the bustle of the city, and follows the tacks and jibes of a race — “The hum of straining rigging, the sting of flying spray on the lips … the feeling that only a yachtie knows as his craft lifts and surges.” The narration is by Tim Eliott, who had recently helped found Wellington's Downstage Theatre.
Classic sci-fi series Under the Mountain follows redheaded twins with psychic powers — Rachel and Theo — as they battle the alien Wilberforces. This fourth episode sees the twins venture into the aliens' submarine lair for the first time. The lair's moody production design, the NZ Symphony Orchestra's score, and creepy transmogrifying special effects contributed to the slimy imprint the series left on a generation of Kiwi kids, haunted by the giant slugs slithering underneath Auckland's volcanoes. The award-winning series was adapted from the Maurice Gee novel.
“Only 40 hours by air from San Francisco and six from Sydney, Auckland New Zealand is on your doorstep.” In 1952, NZ tourism was also a long way from a core contributor to the national economy. A flying boat and passenger ship deposits visitors in the “Queen among cities” for this National Film Unit survey of Kiwi attractions. The potted tour takes in yachting, the beach, postwar housing shortage, school patrols, dam building and the War Memorial Museum, before getting out of town into dairy, racing and thermal wonderlands, where “you can meet some of our Māori people”.