In the 90s Spot was an acronym for the Services and Products of Telecom, and also a much loved Australian Jack Russell terrier. He starred in 43 different Telecom commercials made between 1991 and 1998 — many of them on an epic scale and seemingly at risk to his life or limb. Special mention should be made of the size of the Yellow Pages shoot, apparently featuring a warehouse full of chefs, couriers and entertainers — and of Spot’s considerable arsenal of tricks from skateboard riding to orchestra conducting. Spot died in Sydney in 2000 at age 13.
Great adverts are strange things: mini works of magic, with the power to make viewers smile, cry, and even buy. Kiwi directors have shown such a knack for making them, they've been invited to do so across the globe. But this collection is about local favourites; dogs on skateboards, choc bar robberies, ghost chips. NZ On Screen's Irene Gardiner backgrounds the top 10 here.
This collection is a celebration of the eccentric, exuberant career of NZ screen industry frontrunner Tony Williams. As well as being at the helm of many iconic ads (Crunchie, Bugger, Spot, Dear John) Williams made inventive, award-winning indie TV documentaries, and shot or directed pioneering feature films, including Solo and cult horror Next of Kin.
Away Laughing was an early sketch comedy show from Wellington company Gibson Group. In this episode from the second series, skaters, spies, panelbeaters and Buck Shelford are the butt of jokes. Kevin Smith and Murray Keane play two Australians mocking New Zealand place names; a trio of firefighters make idiots of themselves in a classroom; ingratiating priest Phineas O'Diddle (Danny Mulheron) arrives at the pub in time to join in on Hori's birthday; and onetime Telecom promo man Gordon McLauchlan interviews two gorillas about Telecom's privatisation.
In this music-heavy web series, a South Auckland family competes in a local talent quest. Alongside battles over performing the traditional Samoan music favoured by their grandfather, the Saumalus have to deal with a dodgy competitor and some last minute changes of tune. There's also romance, heartbreak, and a shifty Palagi factory boss. The final episode (of 20) features behind the scenes bloopers. Directed by music video veteran Joe Lonie, The Factory began as a highly successful stage musical from South Auckland-based theatre group Kila Kokonut Krew.
In 2000 the Employment Relations Act was passed into law in New Zealand, replacing the Employment Contracts Act. The bill proved controversial: some suggested it placed unfair obligations on employers, while others claimed it restored much-needed rights to workers that had been undermined. This Assignment episode explores both angles. Among them, business owner John Holm argues that he shouldn’t be told how to treat his employees, while union leaders and Alliance Party MP Laila Harré all argue that without the bill, workers will continue to be exploited.
This NZ TV award-nominated documentary tells the story of radio station Mai FM. Founded in 1992 by Auckland iwi Ngāti Whātua, its mix of hip hop, r’n’b and te reo soon won ratings success. Original breakfast host Robert Rakete recalls early days when the station was a CD player hooked up to an aerial, while Mai FM's champions argue the station has executed its kaupapa: promoting Māori language and culture to the youth of Auckland, including the breakout phrase, “it’s cool to kōrero!” The introduction by Tainui Stephens was done for Māori TV's doco slot He Raranga Kōrero.
Singer Marina Devcich had been working as an apprentice hairdresser when she won a Waikato talent quest. A signing to Viking Records and a name change to Maria Dallas followed. ‘Tumblin’ Down’ was written by Taranaki musician Jay Epae, and recorded at a session in Wellington. It went to 11 in the pop charts and won the 1966 Loxene Golden Disc Award. Later the song was used to score a series of Telecom ads in the mid-80s. Dallas recorded in Nashville, moved to Australia and had a trans-Tasman career — her single ‘Pinocchio’ topped the NZ charts in 1970.
The Mainland Touch was a popular regional news magazine programme broadcast from Christchurch between 1980 until 1990. In excerpts here, Christchurch Botanic Gardens welcomes the arrival of spring with a daffodil festival while local gardening groups prepare a floral carpet. The Wizard of Christchurch battles Telecom over the colour of phone boxes and joins opponents of a proposed restaurant tower in Victoria Square. Punting on the Avon is extended, and a cockatoo hitches a ride in the garden city.
A weekly TVNZ arts series hosted by Oliver Driver, Frontseat was the longest-running arts programme of its time, aiming a broad current affairs scope at arts issues and events. In the excerpts from this episode journalist Amomai Pihama investigates Māori arts brand, Toi Iho. Winston Peters, gallery owner Kataraina Hetet, and CNZ's Elizabeth Ellis are among those interviewed. In another story Driver speaks with artists and the curator of the Telecom Prospect 2004 show at Wellington's City Gallery and Adam Art Gallery.