In the first of this two-part documentary about Kiwis and cars, actor Rima Te Wiata sets off on a road tour of New Zealand. Starting in the South Island, Te Wiata learns about the first bus tours to Aoraki, which were handled by the Mount Cook Motor Company. Then she travels to Westport via the infamous Hawks Crag, and hears from locals about the difficulties and dangers of transit before the introduction of cars. A trip back up the country takes Te Wiata to Northland, where the locals suggest they may have been better off when the primary mode of transport was by boat.
This full-length documentary recreates three fatal fires to find out the characteristics of a killer fire, and reveal how it goes about its business: how easily fires start, what feeds them, and how ill-prepared most people are to fight a fire. Interviews with survivors — some of them talking publicly for the first time — firefighters, and investigators are interwoven with footage of real (condemned) houses set alight. Fatal Fires screened in TV One's Danger Zone series, which included DIY Disasters and Dangerous Waters.
Joan Butland forged her father’s signature to join the Women’s Land Service. Her parents had already stopped her from becoming a nurse, so nothing was going to get in her way this time. Coming from a farm, her transition to the service was easy. But at just 17, her slight frame raised eyebrows among burly farmers, especially when it came to harnessing horses and driving four-horse teams. Butland shows pride in her home front contribution to World War ll in this interview, although in common with other former Land Girls it was only formally recognised in 2015.
Lion Man Craig Busch, and his unlikely colleagues — African lions and white Bengal tigers — were a ratings and international sales success across three TV seasons. The Lion Man went behind the scenes at his Zion Wildlife Gardens animal park. In this first episode of the Great Southern TV show, Busch talks about his introduction to working with the big cats — and the scars that are part of the job. There's also a peek at the making of an award-winning Sky TV promo that featured his lions. Busch, and the park, were later to be the centre of regular controversy.
This Māori Television series follows South Auckland dance crew The Palace as they prepare for the World Hip Hop Dance Championships, and a shot at their fourth title. This first episode films open auditions where dancers, including two gay brothers from Tokoroa, hope to join 'The Royal Family'. Led by choreographer Parris Goebel — who talks here about her method and early days — the crew have won global fame, including bringing its 'Polyswagg' to the hit video for Justin Bieber’s Sorry. There are also scenes of Goebel choreographing 2015 Kiwi movie Born to Dance.
Released in February 1969, this National Film Unit documentary offers an impressionistic view on the making of sheet glass. Director Lynton Diggle follows the raw materials (sand, limestone, dolomite) to a Whangarei factory, where they’re combined with broken glass. There, men in protective gear look like they’re enacting an alchemical ritual, as the ‘frit’ mixture is melted in the “punishing heat” of a crucible. Then it’s transferred to the drawing chamber where a toffee-like wall of glass is pulled up for cooling and slicing. Ambient sounds are used to forge a percussive score.
New Zealand Mirror was a National Film Unit 'magazine-film' series aimed at showcasing Aotearoa to the British market. A Whangarei clock collector is a quirky choice to open this edition of Kiwi reflections. His display includes a clock that goes backwards. The ensuing segments are more in keeping with Māoriland and Shaky Isles postcard expectations. The annual Ngāruawāhia waka regatta includes novelty canoe hurdle races. There are also dramatic shots of 6000 foot high “cauliflower clouds” from Ruapehu’s 1945 eruption, and of the crater lake turned to seething lava.
The American dream of so many New Zealand bands became a reality for Steriogram. In 1999 Whangarei’s Jake Adams and Brad Carter teamed up with Tyson Kennedy and Tim Youngson of Auckland. Kennedy, the drummer, impressed with his rapping, and they became known for manic energy, melodies and putting the fun into funk. Early use of the net built a wide fan base, and after a US talent scout saw a video for ‘White Trash’ online they signed to Capitol Records. Their 2004 debut Schmack! also contained ‘Walkie Talkie Man’; 2010 saw their third album, Taping the Radio.
Lancashire-born Hammond Gamble moved to Whangarei as a 12-year-old in the early 60s. He formed Street Talk in Auckland in 1974. They regularly sold out venues like the Windsor Castle and The Gluepot, and were a major drawcard in a burgeoning late 70s live scene. Despite high profile producers — Chris Hillman of the Byrds for their first single and Los Angeles svengali Kim Fowley for their debut album — they failed to make a major impression beyond Auckland. Gamble went on to become a NZ music institution as a songwriter and blues performer.
This long-running travelling TV game show pitted towns against each other in a series of colourful physical challenges. The 1986 final takes place at Lower Hutt’s Fraser Park, where teams from Alexandra, Timaru, Whangarei (including future All Black Ian Jones) and Waihi compete for civic bragging rights. Hosted by Bill McCarthy and Paddy O’Donnell, with officials Melissa (Miss Top Town) and champion Olympic kayaker Ian Ferguson. A Taniwha, cross-dressing cheer squads, a Para Pool, and slippery slope, all make for much light entertainment malarkey.