This episode of history series The Years Back focuses on the impact of World War II on Kiwi women. Through archive and interviews it looks at home front life: rationing (as recalled by Dame Pat Evison), fashion (‘Simplicity Styles’), and the arrival of American troops — around 1,400 women would later emigrate to the United States as war brides. It also shows the liberating effect of the war on many women as they took up the jobs left vacant by men serving overseas. Women joined the services too: with more than 8,000 enlisted across the army, navy and air forces.
This NZBC religious programme goes where TV cameras had never gone before: behind the walls of the Carmelite monastery in Christchurch. There, it finds a community of 16 Catholic nuns, members of a 400-year-old order, who have shut themselves off from the outside world to lead lives devoted to prayer, contemplation and simple manual work. Despite their seclusion, the sisters are unphased by the intrusion and happy to discuss their lives and their beliefs; while the simplicity and ceremony of their world provides fertile ground for the monochrome camerawork.
Following the initial break up of legendary group Hello Sailor in 1980, Dave McArtney moved to centre stage with The Pink Flamingos (named after the cult comedy by John Waters). Formed around the ideas of "simplicity and melody", the group's revolving line-up included Dragon songwriter Paul Hewson. They released three albums and an EP; their self-titled debut led to five NZ Music Awards in 1981, including Group of the Year. After an unsuccessful second album the band reformed in 1984 to record The Catch. Their singles included 'Virginia', 'I'm in Heaven' and 'Remember the Alamo'. McArtney died in April 2013.
Half a decade before the electronic beats of Oceania, Hinewehi Mohi's debut single is a gentler, more soulful affair — with the constantly moving close-ups of director Niki Caro's video underlining the song’s heartfelt simplicity. Co-written with Doctor Hone Kaa and Ardijah founding member Jay Dee, the song pushes the importance of rising above adversity, and having the courage to evolve as a people and a nation. The latter would be challenged seven years later by another te reo performance from Mohi — of the national anthem at a rugby test match.
One Fell Swoop offers more DIY ingenuity from the man who has made an art form out of simplicity: a hand hypnotically moves back and forth, revealing a new notepaper lyric with each motion. The result makes for a surprisingly mesmerising video, with interludes of Knox singing in front of a chaotically shifting background seeming startling by comparison. Some neat visual effects near the end leave Knox’s face disappearing into the background, a noticeable leap from the rest of the clip’s lo-fi sensibilities. Knox directed the video with then partner Barbara Ward.
Roughly four years after debuting on A Haunting We Will Go, Count Homogenized made a memorable re-entrance in his own series. This fifth episode has the simplicity of a good cartoon: disguised as a movable charity bin, the vampire endeavours to trick or talk his way past the local dairy owners, on his endless mission to make it to the milk supplies. Aside from Russell Smith in full comic flight as the Count, Lynda Milligan takes the New Zild accent in dramatic new directions as no-nonsense shopkeeper Rhonda Dearsley.
When Bic Runga broke out in 1996, 'Drive' was the lead single from her hit album of the same name. Opting to stay with the simplicity of her original demo clearly paid off: the song earned then 20-year-old Runga the 1996 APRA Silver Scroll Songwriting Award. Director Justin Pemberton wisely creates a video that matches the song. Alternating black and white with colour provides a moody feel without drawing attention to itself, leaving Runga to deliver a delicate performance on a song that would have a major impact on her career.
This infectious song about the heartache of love took Jordan Luck roughly five minutes to write in an east London squat. It was the band's first release after a brief name change to Amplifier, then a shortening to The Exponents. Despite its unlikely origins and subject matter, the song has become an enduring Kiiwi sports stadium sing-along — rivalling Dave Dobbyn's 'Loyal' for unofficial national anthem status. The song's simplicity is matched by director Kerry Brown's video, which allows the band to do what they do best, in scenic spots including Waiotapu hot springs.
In Gaylene Preston's documentary, seven elderly women recall their personal experiences of World War II. Their intimate, unadorned stories are filmed talking heads style, interspersed with personal photographs and period newsreel clips. From tragic love stories to long-suppressed revelations of sex and death, War Stories is a revealing touchstone of New Zealand history. It received international acclaim. LA Times writer Kevin Thomas enthused that Preston takes "a simple idea and turns it into a rich, universal experience".
Neil Roberts discovered that he loved making television programmes while working as a parliamentary journalist. In the mid 1980s he founded independent production company Communicado, whose staff grew to more than 60. Later Roberts oversaw a period of change at Television New Zealand, during a short stint as the organisation's Television Manager. He died of cancer on 8 November 1998.