Jon Neilson and Bob Parker host the 13th annual Young Farmer of the Year final, broadcast live from Trillos nightclub in Auckland in 1981. The show includes pre-recorded items showing the seven finalists on their farms, as well as competing in the "rural activities" part of the contest, which consists of such tests as hanging a gate, changing a tyre, and determining defects in sheep carcasses. The presentation of the "cloak of knowledge" to the winning farmer at the end of the night is delightfully cheesy.
Arts magazine series For Arts Sake screened on TV ONE for two hours on Sunday mornings for 22 weeks in 1996. This segment features the acclaimed Hone Kouka play Waiora - The Homeland, about a Māori family struggling to deal with their move from traditional rural ways to city life in 1960s New Zealand. The item includes excerpts from the play, and interviews with playwright Kouka, director Murray Lynch, and cast members Rawiri Paratene, Nancy Brunning and Mick Rose. The play and this story feature both English and Te Reo Māori.
In this episode of the Jon Gadsby written rural sitcom, the locals at The Rabbiter’s Rest pub attempt to take an overzealous young constable down a peg. Michael Haigh (Gliding On) has yet another of his police roles as the worldly wise local sergeant. No appearance from Gadsby in this episode, but David Telford plays the genial proprietor, Doreen the barmaid reprises the role Annie Whittle made famous in A Week of It, and Billy T James is among the regulars propping up the bar. The humour is gentle; some of the jokes are shaggier than the local sheep flock at shearing time.
Homeward Bound was TV3’s bid for New Zealand on Air funding for a local soap opera. Set around the lives of the rural Johnson family, 22 episodes were produced for the then-nascent network (the series ultimately lost out to TVNZ’s Shortland Street). Created by Ross Jennings and written by Michael Noonan, it represented a move back to a small town way of life after the Gloss-y urban excesses of the 1980s; it also explored pressures facing country communities following the stock market crash. The cast included Liddy Holloway, Peter Elliott and a young Karl Urban.
Mortimer’s Patch was a popular drama series following Detective Sergeant Doug Mortimer (Terence Cooper) at work in the town of Cobham. Mortimer plays a city cop returning to his rural roots; Don Selwyn is Sergeant Bob Storey. The series was NZ’s first police drama, and a rare local drama to top ratings. Mortimer's Patch was made when the archetype of the ‘community cop’ everyone knew was still a powerful one, and it was a counterweight to the faceless riot policing of the Springbok Tour. Three series were made.
Long before “country people die on country roads” came this 1951 road safety film targeting rural audiences — specifically children between five and 12. Compared with the carnage of 21st Century road safety campaigns, In the Country is quaint: a traffic safety instructor tests a class to see what lessons that they’ve remembered, and the kids then demonstrate safe crossing, so they can get home in one piece to feed Chalky the horse his carrot. It was filmed at and around Te Marua School near Upper Hutt, and helmed by pioneering National Film Unit director Kathleen O’Brien.
Chris Huriwai and Sam La Hood are both world champions in street unicycling. What they do takes courage and confidence — and not just the unicycling. As vegan animal rights activists, they regularly face those who disagree with them, as they form a “cube of truth” with other activists, standing in black, and playing video of animal rights abuses on laptop screens. The pair take the time to explain why they protest — Huriwai’s rural background and their connection to tikanga Māori are key factors — and note that while some take offence, the majority are welcoming.
A family reunion is the perfect vehicle to introduce the characters of this early TV3 soap. Set in a rural hamlet just south of the Bombay Hills, it revolves around the Johnstone family who have farmed the area for 100 years; but times are changing and, following the market crash, so are their fortunes. Beneath the surface of reunion civilities lurks a marriage in tatters, a prodigal son returned, a family inheritance spat and a mystery teenager (Simone Kessell) confusing the bloodlines. The cast included Liddy Holloway, Peter Elliott and a young Karl Urban.
Since 1959 Cadbury Flake advertisements have been evoking the sensual pleasure of consuming the bar. The ads’ soft focus emphasis on young women enjoying “only the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate” has also moved more febrile minds to make risqué associations with the chocolate that “tastes like chocolate never tasted before”. This 1983 edition, produced by Silverscreen, sees a winsome woman wander in a romantic rural landscape before showing “a very special way to eat chocolate.” Homage was paid to the campaign in Taika Waititi’s 2016 feature Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
This animated series for kids follows the rural adventures of Massey the farm tractor and his machine mates. In this 10th episode of the first series Massey almost gets taken out by a rogue truck and then discovers a baaaaad problem: the sheep have gone missing from Murray and Heather’s farm. Massey sets off to solve the mystery of the sheep rustling, and a distinctive bleat provides a vital clue on the trail. The series is narrated by broadcaster Jim Mora (Mucking In), who created it with Brent Chambers of Flux Animation.