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In 1981, New Zealand was populated by 3,195,800 people and 69,884,000 sheep. It was an election year and the year the New Zealand Film Archive was established. Punk was fashionable and so were knickerbockers. That year, the feature Goodbye Pork Pie was released, the documentary Patu!, was filmed and the music video Tally Ho screened on local TV.
A box-office success, Goodbye Pork Pie captured New Zealand humour in its affectionate portrayal of kiwi men on the road. Patu!, by contrast, was highly controversial, documenting the very real trauma of New Zealand at war with itself during the Springbok Tour. Different in style to both these, Tally Ho captured the spirit of low-budget filmmaking, and presaged the development of a new film formthe music video.
The making of these films, and their reception, provides a valuable
view of New Zealands moving image culture in 1981.
Film and TV in 81
New Zealand had two television channels in 1981, and approximately 78 percent of licensed television sets were colour sets. Programmes shown in New Zealand that year included American shows like Hill Street Blues, Battlestar Galactica, One Day at a Time and Dallas, as well as locally made shows such as Country Calendar, Mastermind, Ready to Roll, Koha and Under the Mountain.
In between programmes, there was less advertising than today; TV1 played no ads on Fridays, TV2 played no ads on Saturdays and neither channels played ads on Sundays. That year, TV1 was on air for an average of 88 hours a week about 12 and a half hours a day while TV2 was on air for about 71 hours a week. The end of each days transmission was indicated by a short animation of a kiwi shutting down the television cameras and going to sleep in a satellite dish. Known as the Goodnight Kiwi, it was much loved by the New Zealand children who were never allowed to stay up and watch him.
For other entertainment, there were 154 cinemas in New Zealand. In 1981, New Zealanders went to the movies an average of 3.87 times a year. Films playing in local cinemas that year included Friday the 13th (1980), Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Life of Brian (1979) and ticket prices to see them in a city like Auckland would have cost an average of $2.40.
New Zealand filmmaking was gaining recognition. Always present in some form, the countrys film industry was now becoming more structured and formalised, primarily due to the establishment of the New Zealand Film Commission in 1978. By the end of 1981, 8 features had been released with the financial support of the Film Commission, including Goodbye Pork Pie.
New Zealands music industry was also strong. Television offered
a venue for bands to get some exposure, showing local talent alongside
the overseas acts. Two key music shows were on air in 1981; Ready
to Roll screened the Top 40 hits every weekend, while Radio with
Pictures (fronted in 1981 by Karen Hay) offered a late night look
at the newest foreign and New Zealand acts. New Zealand singles in the
charts that year included Counting the Beat (Swingers), One
Step Ahead (Split Enz), Tally Ho (The Clean) and Dont
Fight it Marsha (Blam Blam Blam).
Events of 81
foyer is like a riot!
March: Birth of
April: A Litany
May: Gumboots and
June: Thank you
very much for your kind donation
July: The Tour begins
August: The Dunedin
November: Old and
|The New Zealand Film Archive / Ngā Kaitiaki O Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua ©2004|