One of Auckland’s pioneering punk bands, Suburban Reptiles represented the art school end of the punk movement. Confrontations with unsuspecting audiences and promoters soon had them in the headlines. Singer Zero (aka Clare Elliot) was arrested for swearing on stage. The band's debut, ‘Megaton’, was the first 12 inch 45 released by a New Zealand artist. They followed it with ‘Saturday Night, Stay At Home’ — one of the great Kiwi singles of the punk era. Phil Judd (ex Split Enz) joined towards the end after producing some songs for the band. Judd and Buster Stiggs went on to found The Swingers ('Counting the Beat').
South Pacific Pictures marked its 30th anniversary in 2018. With drama production at its core, this collection highlights the production company’s prodigious output. The collection spans everything from Marlin Bay to Westside — including hit movies Sione's Wedding and Whale Rider — plus the long-running and beloved Shortland Street. In the backgrounder, longtime SPP boss John Barnett reminisces, and charts the company’s history.
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.
'Saturday Night' is a glorious anthem from these Auckland punk pioneers, and a classic piece of NZ rock’n’roll. An improbable ode to the joys of having “one free night a week”, it was penned by Buster Stiggs and produced by ex-Split Enzer Phil Judd (on guitar). The video, made by TVNZ, was remarkably sympathetic and, apart from lurid lighting, avoided cheap effects in favour of capturing the band’s essence. Judd and Stiggs later formed The Swingers, while this performance won singer Zero a role in the Gary Glitter stage production of Rocky Horror Picture Show.
TVNZ journalist (and future Communicado founder) Neil Roberts does an ethnomusicologist turn in this edition of "established media tries to explain what the young people are doing". His subject is NZ's fledgling punk scene which is already on its way to extinction. Much of the focus is on Auckland but Doomed lead singer (and future TV presenter/producer) Johnny Abort (aka Dick Driver) flies the flag for the south. The Stimulators, Suburban Reptiles and Scavengers play live and punk fans pogo and talk about violence directed at them (from "beeries").
In this National Film Unit-produced 'documentary' a circus sets up at the beach. Made for the Ministry of Works to stir debate about the use of coastal land, director Michael Reeves' wiggy treatment of the subject situates the film in the 'frustrated auteur meets sober commission' NFU tradition. Ringmaster Ian Mune is a seaside Willy Wonka canvassing claims to the coast. Demands of development, recreation, and housing are dramatised — including a bizarre look at stranger danger in suburbia, and a graphic illustration of the risks of off-mains sewage treatment.
The opening images of this video — the swinging guitar, fingers on the fretboard — make for a defining moment in Kiwi music video history. The clip was actually shot in Australia; by the time they recorded the song, The Swingers had relocated from Aotearoa to Melbourne. They would soon be history. Aussie cinematographer/ director Ray Argall ('World Where You Live') matches the beloved composition with colourful images, quirky humour, and an infectious dance finale. In 2001 music organisation APRA voted the chart topper fourth on their list of the top Kiwi songs to date.
"I like to pull rabbits out of hats to surprise people". So said young director David Blyth, before unleashing Angel Mine. Inspired partly by the surrealism of Luis Buñuel, Blyth's inventive debut is one of a handful of Kiwi experimental feature films to win mainstream release. Featuring a whitebread suburban couple and their liberated alter egos, the film explores ideas of consumerism, sexuality, the media, and taboo-breaking. The film excited criticism from Patricia Bartlett, and a notorious addition to its R18 certificate: "contains punk cult material."
A plain tale about the swollen secretions of suburban love. In middle class Auckland vulnerable passions break the surface as Laura (Meryl Main from Highwater) aggressively pursues love and acceptance, finding something very like it right next door. For director Niki Caro this one-hour drama was a watershed in her career. It was her ultimate drama production before embarking on a feature film career; it screened as part of the Montana Theatre series on TV One in 1995. Plain Tastes features Marton Csokas and Kate Harcourt. Producer Owen Hughes writes about Plain Tastes here.
‘Deb’s Night Out’ was a single from Shihad’s breakout second album Killjoy (1995). Director Chris Mauger’s video bypasses a literal take on the lyrics’ relationship paranoia for a deadpan depiction of cross-generational spirit. A young, sullen Jon Toogood is stuck in his denim jacket in the backseat with a couple of wine-guzzling oldies, en route to a suburban hall shin-dig. There the band gets down for some country and limbo dancing, the family-fun visuals contrasting with the song’s grinding guitar. Mauger’s stylistic touches include a canapé-cam.