This 2010 Close Up excerpt sees presenter Mark Sainsbury interview rock band Dragon. After singer Marc Hunter’s death in 1998, the band went on hiatus until nearly a decade later, when Todd Hunter started rehearsing a new line-up, with Mark Williams on vocals. Hunter talks about reforming — "we are here to service the songs" — and he and Williams reflect on their rock’n’roll lives. "It must have been dangerous to be in the band?" asks Sainsbury. It wouldn’t be a Kiwi summer without 'Rain', and the band ends with a TVNZ rooftop rendition of the classic song.
This popular C4 series counted down 100 moments in New Zealand music history, scouring the archives en route to number one. Taken from episode three, this musical moment covers the time bands Hello Sailor and Dragon shared digs. Musos Graham Brazier and Todd Hunter, alongside music writer John Dix (Stranded in Paradise), provide the goss on the early 70s 'Ponsonby Rock' scene revolving around Mandrax Mansion — where members of the bands lived, played and partied hard. Brazier quotes lyrics from an unrecorded song about the then working class suburb.
Open Home was a 90s series looking at New Zealand homes and the people making, designing and living in them. This episode from the third season ranges from deconstructionism to DIY. Builder (and future Dunedin mayor) David Cull checks out a Northland glasshouse designed by Nigel Cook, before visiting the renovated Australian farmhouse and digital recording studio of Dragon band member Todd Hunter. Susan Wood tries translating the architectural theory of deconstructionism with the help of Auckland architects, including Mark Wigley.
Dragon have produced some of Australasian pop music's classic anthems ('April Sun in Cuba', 'Are You Old Enough'). This 2015 documentary charts 40 rock'n'roll years: chart success, drugs, fame, failure, family, survival. The first excerpt looks at the band facing early success and tragedy; the second covers the impact of the 1998 death of singer Marc Hunter, especially on his brother Todd. The doco screened in the Prime Rocks slot. "Made with care and quite a lot of love", praised NZ Herald’s Greg Dixon, "by turns, sad and uplifting, which is no mean feat."
This collection celebrates all things equine on New Zealand screens. Since the early days of the colony, horses have been everything from nation builders (Cobb & Co) to national heroes (Phar Lap, Charisma) to companions (Black Beauty) to heartland icons. Whether work horse, war horse, wild horse, or show pony, horses have become a key part of this (Kiwi) way of life.
Alex is a champion teenage swimmer determined to win selection to the 1960 Rome Olympics, in this adaptation of the award-winning young adults novel. Written by ex Empire Games swimming medallist Tessa Duder, Alex was the first in a quartet of books exploring the vicissitudes of the high achiever freestyler as she deals with rivalry, ambition, first love and the pressures of growing up. Lauren Jackson, who played the title role, later appeared in vampire movie Perfect Creature. The film was a co-production between New Zealand and Australia.
Dragon brothers Marc and Todd Hunter bestride the hills of south east New South Wales in this video for one of their latter hits. The autumnal lyrics are a good fit for a band in its later and more reflective years: Marc is celebratory in one of his last videos with the band. Todd — bass against the bush background — is gleeful, and the cow unperturbed. Written by keyboard player Alan Mansfield and his partner, Kiwi singer Sharon O’Neill, ‘Young Years’ gained added poignancy following Marc Hunter’s death in 1998. O’Neill has dedicated her performances of the song to his memory.
Dragon formed in Auckland in 1972, led by Todd Hunter, who recruited his brother Marc Hunter shortly after. The band gained a profile with an appearance at 1973's Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival; after releasing two progressive rock albums, they shifted to Australia in 1975 and were signed to CBS by ex-pat Peter Dawkins. With songwriter-keyboardist Paul Hewson on board they shifted to a winning pop-rock formula, with Marc Hunter as charismatic lead singer. The hits included 'April Sun in Cuba' and 'Are You Old Enough'. Marc died in 1998 but the band continues to tour, with Kiwi Mark Williams on vocals.
After the classic line-up of Sydney-based hitmakers Dragon reformed in 1982, the band found a new lease of life when anthemic single 'Rain' got to number two on the Australian charts (at a time of severe drought). 'Rain' was a departure — written by Todd Hunter and his wife Joanna Piggott, instead of Dragon's songwriter supreme Paul Hewson. The video offers more evidence of a new look, thanks to drummer Terry Chambers (fresh from XTC) and US keyboardist and producer Alan Mansfield. The video is one of three made for 'Rain' — the band rejected a post-apocalyptic version.
Dragon's 'April Sun in Cuba' (from 1977 album Running Free) was originally released in Australia, where it charted at number two. New Zealand loved to hear Marc Hunter talking about Cuba and missile love too: in 1978, the song hit number nine. Later the Hunter/Paul Hewson composition made number 10 on the APRA list of Top 100 NZ Songs. This Aussie-made video, complete with footage of missiles, has the band in full big-hair rock star mode: a white-suited Marc Hunter gets in some high kicks while bassist brother Todd maintains his cool from behind his sunnies.