In this episode of the archive-compiled history series, Bernard Kearns focuses on the Roaring Twenties. Soldiers returning from the First World War struggle to tame the land as commodity prices fall. The Labour Party, with miners as its backbone, gains a foothold on the political scene, and the Ratana Church emerges as an alternative to more distant Māori leaders. In Dunedin, the New Zealand and South Seas International Exhibition proves a huge success and members of the Royal Family are popular visitors to our shores. But the Great Depression looms.
This Lookout special follows colourful property tycoon Bob Jones hustling on the 1984 campaign trail, and talking up his newly-formed New Zealand Party. The outspoken advocate for free market liberalisation drew crowds at halls across New Zealand. The Rocky theme music shamelessly plays as boxing fan Jones approaches the rostrum. The party was ultimately short-lived and won no seats, but achieved its goal of denying National a third term by splitting the vote. The documentary includes scenes of the libertarian attempting to dictate how television media filmed him.
This extraordinary moment in New Zealand political history occurred during the 2014 election campaign. Kim Dotcom, a colourful German-born file-sharing mogul exiled in NZ, had helped form a political party — Internet Mana — to “disrupt” the campaign. The party’s 24 August launch went awry when Dotcom fled from reporters keen to follow up a remark made during his speech (he hinted he could hack Prime Minister John Key’s credit rating). Internet Mana press secretary Pam Corkery infamously berated reporters, calling TV3's Brook Sabin a “puffed up little s**t.”
As part of the radical 80s neoliberal reform of the public and corporate sector in New Zealand, many government-run assets were turned into state owned enterprises; some were sold off to foreign buyers. Screening on TV3, this 1991 film, written by Metro columnist Bruce Jesson, examines the controversial programme by asking “who owns this country and who controls it?”. Those answering range from businesspeople to politicians, academics, journalists, vox pops and critics of the ‘cashing-in’, from the Hamilton Jet family to UK environmentalist Teddy Goldsmith.
The Ralston Group was an early 90s TV3 political chat show where politicos and media industry insiders vigorously debated current affairs. In this mid-1991 episode ringmaster Bill Ralston prods RNZ political editor Richard Griffin, broadcaster Leighton Smith, North & South editor Robyn Langwell and lawyer Trevor de Cleene to tell it as they see it. They debate service on Air New Zealand, the reform of Accident Compensation Corporation, the National Party’s broken promise for a Guaranteed Retirement Income, and the vexed issue of personalised car number plates.
The Ralston Group was an anarchic early 90s TV3 political chat show. Ringmaster Bill Ralston wrangled a caucus of political and media industry insiders, ranging from broadcaster Derek Fox and writer Jane Clifton to Peter Williams QC and PR man Richard Griffin. The irreverent show offered in the moment opinions on an especially heady era in NZ politics. A 2003 issue of The NZ Herald remembered it as “the best sort of dinner party: noisy and gossipy, the guests well informed, well lubricated with lots of opinions and zero inhibition.”
A 24-year-old Helen Clark (complete with long flowing locks) features in this NZBC current affairs footage from the annual conference of Young Labour — the Labour Party’s youth division. Twenty five years before she will become NZ’s first elected female Prime Minister, Clark is a junior politics lecturer making her way in the party machine as she chairs a session about abortion law reform. The room might be smoke filled but the atmosphere is more earnest than Machiavellian; and, while commitment to the cause is strong, expectations are more finite.
A hard living, party-loving gang with a knack for attracting trouble, The Androidss formed in Christchurch in 1979 and became an institution at The Gladstone Tavern. The cornerstone of their live set was an epic version of Iggy Pop’s ‘The Passenger’ (played for the man himself one night). Their recorded legacy is the anthemic ‘Auckland Tonight’, written after they moved north and released on the b-side of their only single. Singer Steve Marsden died in 2009 and his twin brother, drummer Eric, passed away in 2011. Guitarist Neil Spence followed in 2014.
In this November 1955 newsreel, Sir Edmund Hillary addresses 2000 Wellington school children, as part of a pitch to win support for an Antarctic expedition. Ed shakes hands with pint-sized fundraisers, and one of his crew models Kiwi-made cold weather gear. The voiceover mentions a "New Zealand Antarctic expedition", but Hillary's team would actually form half of a Commonwealth team, led by UK explorer Vivian Fuchs. After leaving supplies for the British crossing party, Hillary controversially went on ahead to the South Pole. Both BP and the NFU filmed the expedition.
This episode of the Kiwi social history series explores the importance of the ‘cradle to grave' beliefs about education, health and social welfare that have underpinned NZ governance since the 1930s. But radical reforms toward the end of the 20th century were more focused on individual opportunity than the wider social contract. Excerpts here use influential unionist James ‘Big Jim’ Roberts and generations of his family to chart social change. Written by feminist Sandra Coney, this episode also provides an overview of the monumental change in the lives of women.