On June 4 1976, Gordon Dryden hosted Abraham Ordia — president of the African Supreme Council of Sport — for a public forum on New Zealand’s sporting ties with apartheid South Africa, which would result in an Olympic boycott by African countries the following month. The debate erupted into what the Auckland Star called “a diabolic confrontation between Māori and Pākeha”, with Dryden frequently pleading for civility. Weightlifter Precious McKenzie, MP Richard Prebble, activist Syd Jackson and Donna Awatere-Huata are among those in the audience, making their feelings known.
Presented by Niuean broadcaster Foufou Susana Hukui, this first episode of the long-running Pasifika current affairs series includes items on Cook Islands dance, the “Otara flea market”, and NZ work schemes for islanders. Samoan Maligi Elvie presents South Pacific news, while Vainetutai Temaeva-Nicholls covers the Cook Islands. Debuting on 4 April 1987, the TVNZ series broke ground as the first NZ television show to focus on PI stories (earlier show See Here was aimed at both Māori and Pasifika audiences). Researcher Iulia Leilua went on to report for Native Affairs.
At a time when Pasifika people were rarely seen on-screen, Tagata Pasifika was a bastion of Pacific stories. For Oscar Kightley, it was "more than just a TV programme" — it meant on-screen representation for his Pasifika community. In this video celebrating NZ On Air's 30th birthday, Kightley also recalls how impressed his mum was with presenter Susana Hukui's "impeccable" dress sense. Veteran Tagata Pasifika producer Stephen Stehlin talks about working on one of Aotearoa's longest-running series, and the importance of presenting stories about our all-important "front yard".
This documentary travels to nine Pacific nations, including New Zealand, to chronicle the long struggle to create a regional nuclear arms free zone. Interviews with politicians, activists, radiation victims and American and French admirals are counterpointed. When hopes of a treaty are dashed at a South Pacific Forum meet, it is pointed out that the David Lange-trumpeted independence of NZ's nuclear-free policy is evidently "not for export". Local music scores the doco, including Australia's Midnight Oil, whose lead singer (future MP Peter Garrett) is interviewed.
Vanessa Alexander attracted attention as a rookie director with her low-budget feature Magik and Rose. Since then she has compiled an impressive list of achievements as a producer (Being Eve, Cargo), director (the opening episodes of Outrageous Fortune and Agent Anna) writer (Love Child), script editor, and lecturer. These days Alexander works in Australian television.
From a career in print journalism and public relations that began in his teens, Gordon Dryden became a familiar face on New Zealand television in the mid 70s. Earning himself a reputation as a tough interviewer, Dryden hosted coverage of the 1975 election before presenting Friday Conference. A 1991 TV series on education would lead to book The Learning Revolution, which sold in the millions.