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.
NZ On Air is 30 years old! Over three decades, countless stories and songs reflecting New Zealand's culture and identity have been created, thanks to the organisation's investment of public funds. To celebrate this milestone, NZ On Air asked well-known Kiwis to reflect on a programme or song from the past 30 years that has stuck with them — then asked some of those who worked behind the scenes to provide their perspective. Plus Ruth Harley, the first boss of NZ On Air, describes how it all began.
Former All Blacks Matthew Ridge and Marc Ellis team up once again to export their brand of larrikin-like behaviour overseas. In this first episode of their Russian travels they find themselves in the capital of Moscow, where they compete to get smiles out of locals, and head to a space agency building to see if they have the physical ability (and appropriate payment for the guards) to head out into the cosmos. Ridge is informed of a kidney problem, and Ellis gets told he has a dickey heart; but neither diagnosis is enough to prevent the pair testing their limits on the centrifuge.
Animated plasticine. Talking chickens. Dancing Cossacks. Plus old favourites bro'Town, Hairy Maclary and Footrot Flats. From Len Lye to Gollum, feast on the talents of Kiwi animators. In his backgrounder to the Animation Collection, NZ On Screen's Ian Pryor provides handy pathways through the frogs, dogs and stop motion shenanigans.
The decade of fondue and flares also cooked up colour television. Our black and white living room icons — from Selwyn Toogood to Space Waltz — melted into a Kiwi kaleidoscope of Top Town, Grunt Machine, and Close to Home. And 'our stories' and rights fights — boks, hikoi, nukes and 'nam — echoed onscreen (Sleeping Dogs, Tangata Whenua). Ready to roll?
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.
Jaquie Brown's first TV role was as co-host of youth culture show Space with Dominic Bowden in 2000, before becoming one of the two main anchors on burgeoning music channel C4. From there, Brown moved into 'grown up' TV with John Campbell and Carol Hirschfeld, in the series A Queen’s Tour, before becoming a reporter on the current affairs show Campbell Live. Brown then stepped into the challenging realm of programme-making, forming her own production company with Gerard Johnstone. One season later and The Jaquie Brown Diaries was a hit with critics and viewers, and was named Best Comedy at the 2009 Qantas Film and Television Awards.
Justin Hawkes knew from age 10 that he wanted to work in television. He was an avid collector of international TV guides, and at age 13, sent TV3 a new programming schedule. Hawkes began his career as a tape operator at TVNZ, before honing his directing skills at music channel M2. Hawkes has directed for Netflix travel show Dark Tourist, and edited a run of documentaries (e.g. Stan, Awa: Born This Way).
Tangata Whenua was a groundbreaking six-part documentary series that screened (remarkably in primetime) in 1974. Each episode chronicled a different iwi and included interviews by historian Michael King with kaumātua. These remain a priceless historical record. The Feltex Award-winning script was by King and director Barry Barclay. The NZBC said the series had "possibly done more towards helping the European understand the Māori people, their traditions and way of life, than anything else previously shown on television". Paul Diamond writes about Tangata Whenua here.
Tony Williams recognised that passion makes for compelling human interest whatever the subject and came up with the idea of a “pub battle” where three people from very different fields, but united by a common dedication to their respective callings, would be brought together to debate their obsessions. The subjects — choirmaster Maxwell Fernie, astronomer Peter (Night Sky) Read, and sports journalist Terry ‘TP’ McLean — are also filmed separately at work; shots of Fernie working with his choir are particularly notable in the scrum of sport, art and science.