New Zealand has a fine tradition of Kiwi canines on screen. Felines, however, can be a little trickier to wrangle when the cameras roll. This collection celebrates our favourite screen cats and dogs – somewhat weighted toward the latter. From Spot to Dog, plus Rastus, Hairy Maclary, Scarface Claw, and much more. We can’t forget “Bugger", a canine that drives or classic series A Dog’s Show – man and his dog (plus sheep) proving a winning formula for Kiwi TV gold in the 1980s. So Sit! Watch. And enjoy a purrfect canine and feline mix...
This excerpt from mid 90s show Newsnight features the extraordinary story of Max Corkill and his motorcycle-riding cat Rastus. After having Rastus dumped on him as a kitten while he was motorcycling around Canada, Max took him along on the road. Quickly becoming comfortable on the bike, Rastus would stand on the handlebars as they drove along. Back in New Zealand, the pair became community favourites, and regularly raised money for the local SPCA. They passed away on 20 January 1998, after being involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver.
In this children's fantasy created by final year students at Auckland's Media Design School, a motivated (and very cute) kitten named Freda applies for the job as 'familiar' to Zoe, a local witch. Zoe asks Freda to gather an exotic list of ingredients, but the resulting spell isn't what either of them expected. Written and directed by James Cunningham, Kitten Witch joins a gallery of award-winning Media Design School short films. In 2016 it won the People's Choice Award at Show Me Shorts; in 2019 it shared the award for Favourite Live Action Short at a Children's Film Festival in Seattle.
This item from the long-running National Film Unit series tails cats and feline lovers. The humorous clip from 1956 begins in a woman's bedroom at 6am; the devoted cat owner preens herself and her Siamese cat, in preparation for the Auckland Champion Cat Show. Felines are examined at Auckland's Town Hall for diseases, since "an outbreak of ringworm would be a cat-astrophe"; and a judge dressed in her Sunday best checks over animals before kitty lovers are let into the hall. The Pictorial Parade series began in 1952. In its early years, each Parade consisted of multiple items.
Craig Busch aka The Lion Man is a self-taught big cat handler who has brought Barbary lions and white Bengal tigers to New Zealand. With both species extinct in the wild, Busch launched a breeding programme to add to limited numbers remaining in captivity. Great Southern Television produced three series following the often controversial Busch and his giant feline charges, from the early days of his Zion Wildlife Gardens park near Whangarei (later relaunched as The Kingdom of Zion). An international sales success, the show has played in more than 120 countries.
Burton Silver has created comic strips about dope-smoking hedgehogs and books about artistic cats. He also operated some remote-controlled canines on Country Calendar.
Sandy Houston's career in animation and visual effects has involved 70 plus movie projects — including animated classic Watership Down, visual effects landmark Jurassic Park, and Oscar-winners The Return of the King and King Kong. Along the way she has been on hand to watch computers become key tools in creating screen illusion.