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Mark II

Television (Full Length) – 1986


Notes on Mark II

Mark II follows the adventures of three teenage youths who go on the road and travel around the North Island in a classic Mark II Zephyr.

As John Paga put it in his Auckland Star review: "a young Māori chucks in his job in the hostile city, jumps in a choice Mark II Zephyr with his mates, and hits the road. Along the way the car breaks down, they get chased by drug pushers, fall in and out of love and end up in trouble with the law ..."

Mark II was TVNZ's first telefeature; and the same three Kingpin leads, played by Faifula "Junior" Amiga, Nicholas Rogers and myself, were reunited. 

Mark II's rise was prompted by the sudden end of a TV series [Roche], and with a ready crew in need of a screenplay to shoot TV2 needed to fill the gap. 

Mark II was first written by Michael Walker in 1975 and ironically was originally touted as the first project Michael wanted to shoot (before the other films in the trilogy: Kingi's Storyand Kingpin). However, it was deemed too ambitious and Kingi's Story - being a smaller film - was the ideal starter for Michael's drama directing debut. 

When TVNZ approached Michael to adapt his original Mark II screenplay I was again fortunate to be invited to not only co-write, but re-write the screenplay with him. The challenge was to bring a 120 minute original story down to 72 minutes in about 12 days. 

Sadly though, Michael was not going to be able to direct Mark II as was originally his intention; that job was handed to John Anderson. I believe John did a great job, and Mark II picked up best single television drama and best male actor in a television drama, at the the 1987 Gofta Awards. 

For me Mark II was a slice of life which Michael and I both hoped would appeal to a larger New Zealand audience. I recall many reviews where Mark II was heralded for its authentic portrayal of young Polynesians; it was also seen as as a signal from TVNZ of their commitment to more Polynesian broadcasting. 

Michael Walker's vision was to bring his passion to the screen but with a Polynesian flavour. Michael was passionate about Polynesian life and Māori Stories. I think he saw uniqueness in the stories which I'm sure he hoped would enlighten others. 

I owe much to Michael Walker's passion, craft and fastidious nature. It's rubbed off on me and I hope that any new films that I become involved with will be a testament to him and his unique craft.