This collection celebrates Kiwi comedy on TV: the caricatures, piss-takes, and sitcoms that have cracked us up, and pulled the wool over our eyes for over five decades. From turkeys in gumboots and Fred Dagg, to Billy T, bro'Town and Jaquie Brown. As Diana Wichtel reflects, watching the evolution of native telly laughs is, "a rich and ridiculous, if often painful, pleasure."
On a Tuesday evening in April 1968, the ferry Wahine set out from Lyttelton for Wellington. Around 6am the next morning, cyclone-fuelled winds surged in strength as it began to enter Wellington Harbour. At 1.30pm, with the ferry listing heavily to starboard, the call was finally made for 734 passengers and crew to abandon ship. The news coverage and documentaries in this collection explore the Wahine disaster from many angles. Meanwhile Keith Aberdein — one of the TV reporters who was there — explores his memories and regrets over that fateful day on 10 April 1968.
The primetime current affairs interview is the heavyweight contest of screen broadcasting. They can woo hearts and minds, speak truth to power, turn elections, end strikes, enrage or reveal subjects, and enshrine or tarnish reputations. This collection puts the spotlight on iconic Kiwi contributions to the genre, from headline-making clashes (Muldoon versus "smart alec" Walker, Clark versus "sanctimonious little creep" Campbell, Pilger versus "just read" Hill, Conner versus Holmes) to warmer encounters (David Frost charmed by Big Norm Kirk, Paul Holmes bemused by the Ingham twins).
This 1975 general election leaders' debate sees Prime Minister Bill Rowling (Labour) square off against contender Robert Muldoon (National) in front of a panel (Bruce Slane, Gordon Dryden, David Beatson). Rowling had been in the job a year, after the death of Norm Kirk, and Muldoon paints him as a drifter in the face of the first oil shock. It was one of three pre-election specials made for NZ TV’s new second channel. This is filmed in black and white, but during this campaign National exploited newly-arrived colour TV via the infamous ‘Dancing Cossacks’ ads.
Six days out from the 1984 snap election, PM Sir Robert Muldoon and Leader of the Opposition David Lange face off across a table in a TVNZ leaders’ debate chaired by Ian Johnstone. A tired Muldoon, on the back foot since calling the election two weeks earlier, attempts to claim the high ground of experience in office and on the international stage; but he is no match for Lange’s deftness and gravitas — his parting shot of "I love you, Mr Lange" is one of the more remarkable moments in NZ political history.
This report from 80s current affairs show Close Up introduces the New Zealand public to future Prime Minister Jim Bolger — shortly after the “lightning coup” that saw him unseating urban lawyer Jim McLay, to become leader of the National Party. The focus is on Bolger’s rural roots as a father and farmer. There is also praise from political historian Barry Gustafson, and a mini journalistic joust with ex PM Robert Muldoon, over whether he supports the new party leader. In 1987 Labour was re-elected for another term; Bolger’s party swept to victory in 1990.
Documentary series Revolution mapped the social and economic changes in New Zealand society in the 1980s and early 1990s. This first episode focuses on NZ's radical transformation from a heavily regulated welfare state to a petri dish for free market ideology. It includes interviews with key political and business figures of the day, who reveal how the dire economic situation by the end of Robert Muldoon's reign made it relatively easy for Roger Douglas to implement extreme reform. Revolution won Best Factual Series at the 1997 Film and TV Awards.
This documentary reviews that 1983 Royal Tour downunder by Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The tour was notable for the presence of royal baby William; images of the son and heir playing with a Buzzy Bee on the lawn of Government House in Auckland were published around the world. The royals also visit the ballet, banquet, waka, hongi, plant kauri, and see Red Checkers and firemen’s displays. Prince Charles’s duties include announcing an extra holiday for school kids and he meets younger bro Edward on his gap year (tutoring at Wanganui Collegiate).
Some of the great names of international rugby can be seen both playing and reminiscing in this hour long history of British and Irish Lions tours of New Zealand. 1930 Lion Harry Bowcott is the oldest player here, conceding his side were surprised by the toughness of the New Zealand style of rugby; tough like 1950 All Black captain Ron Elvidge, who came back on to crash through a tackle and score a try, despite a fractured sternum and stitches in his head. The documentary concludes with Gavin Hastings’ 1993 Lions team. It was made as a preview for the 2005 tour.
In 1977 protesters occupied Bastion Point, after the announcement of a housing development on land once belonging to Ngāti Whātua. Five hundred and six days later, police and army arrived en masse to remove them. This documentary examines the rich and tragic history of Bastion Point/Takaparawhau — including how questionable methods were used to gradually take land from Māori, while basic amenities were withheld from those remaining. The Untold Story features extensive interviews with protest leader Joe Hawke, and footage from seminal documentary Bastion Point Day 507.