Every year around Christmas time, the Auckland Domain is lit up for a star-filled night of free Christmas celebrations. Hosted by Jay Laga’aia, this 2000 edition of the concert has “more than 300,000 people” gathered for an evening of songs, carols and fireworks. Kicking off with a Christmas rap from Anthony Ray Parker and kids, the celebrations go long into the night. Stepping up to the mic are everyone from Tina Cross, Frankie Stevens and Ainslie Allen, to the cast of Shortland Street and Mai Time. The evening is capped off with a fireworks display and the arrival of Santa Claus.
Early Days Yet, directed by Shirley Horrocks, is a full-length documentary about New Zealand poet Allen Curnow, made in the last months of his life. The poet talks about his life and work, and visits the places of some of his most important poems. It includes interviews with other New Zealand poets about Curnow's significance as an advocate for New Zealand poetry. As Curnow famously mused in front of a moa skeleton displayed in Canterbury Museum: "Not I, some child, born in a marvellous year / Will learn the trick of standing upright here."
Ken Blackburn is a British born actor and writer who emigrated to New Zealand as a child. In his long career, Blackburn has appeared in theatre and screen productions in New Zealand, Australia and Britain. He is best known in this country for his portrayal of The Boss in the popular sitcom Gliding On. His other TV credits include Close to Home, Hunter’s Gold, Moynihan and Shortland Street. His film credits include Skin Deep and Rest for the Wicked.
Poet Hone Tuwhare was born in the far north, near Kaikohe, but forced by poverty to leave as a child. "75 years after Hone Glenn Colquhoun (doctor, poet, Tuwhare fan) wrote a poem in the Listener inviting him back." Hone accepted the invitation and this documentary is a record of his March 2002 Hokianga homecoming, taking in song, readings and plenty of laughs and kai moana. Silver-haired Tuwhare is irresistible, crooning Sinatra, charming school children with bawdy jokes or channelling the fire of his most famous poem: "For this is no mere axe to blunt!"
Ella Yelich-O’Connor was born in Takapuna in 1996 and raised on Auckland’s North Shore. Having shown a keen interest in performance as a child, she signed with Universal NZ while in her early teens and was paired with producer Joel Little. Her tale of suburban teenhood, 'Royals' (released mid-2013), became a massive breakout hit, topping the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. Her debut album Pure Heroine showcased her distinctive vocal style and cemented her global superstardom. Sophomore album Melodrama, recorded in NYC, was released in 2017, topping album charts worldwide including the US Billboard 200.
Emma Davies Dixon summarises her husband Scott's need for speed in this documentary about the IndyCar driver: "...unless he's going really fast, he doesn't feel alive." Dixon has won the IndyCar World Championship several times, making him one of New Zealand's most accomplished professional racing drivers. Directed by Bryn Evans (Hip Hop-eration), Born Racer - The Scott Dixon Story follows Dixon during the 2017 IndyCar season, and includes home movies of Dixon racing as a child. The documentary includes Dixon crashing spectacularly in the Indy500.
The video was directed by Mark Williams (aka MC Slave) and the concept was born over yum cha sessions with the band. In the clip the Fat Freddy's crew are abducted by mad scientist and former child prodigy musician Boondigga (Taungaroa Emile). Taunted by FFD's soul sounds, he conducts a lab experiment to extract the music from their brains.
This documentary tracks severely disabled Miles Roelants from his 21st birthday through a year that culminates in him meeting his hero, actor Michael J Fox, in Los Angeles. Roelants was born with spina bifida and his own interviews with his parents and siblings candidly confront the challenges faced by families with a disabled child. Also featured is Shelly West (real name Michelle Belesarius) who is blind with rheumatoid arthritis; despite that she is planning a trip to Italy. Miles Turns 21 was the first of a series of documentaries featuring the pair.
Ethical entrepreneur, medical pioneer and inaugural New Zealander of the Year, Sir Ray Avery traverses his life, work and beliefs in this episode from a TV One documentary series about spirituality. English-born Avery is a passionate and entertaining raconteur as he recounts his “overnight success story” which took 18 years and saw him overcome a childhood of neglect and abuse. His highly successful company has no permanent employees but has touched hundreds of thousands of lives with low cost, life saving medical devices manufactured in developing nations.
This documentary tells the heart-wrenching story of Eve van Grafhorst, who contracted HIV from a blood transfusion after she was born three months premature. 1980s' attitudes to HIV saw Eve banned from her pre-school in Australia, leading her family to settle in New Zealand, where Eve became a high profile poster child for AIDS awareness. This award-winning film chronicles Eve’s medical struggles, her HIV AIDS awareness work, and her astonishing bravery in the face of illness and death. Eve died peacefully in her mother’s arms in 1993, at the age of 11.