This moment came two years before Campbell Live first aired but is often considered something of a pilot for the programme John Campbell would eventually front. In July 2002, Campbell hosted a 3News special about Nicky Hager's new book, Seeds of Distrust, which accused the Government of covering up the planting of thousands of genetically modified sweetcorn plants.

Campbell grilled then-Prime Minister Helen Clark about the subject, without revealing Hager's book was the source of the allegations. After the programme, a furious Helen Clark called Campbell "a little creep" and laid a formal complaint with the Broadcasting Standards Authority, saying the interview was unfair and biased. The complaint was upheld by both the BSA and the High Court, after TV3 appealed the decision. A formal apology was issued and TV3 was fined $25,000.

School lunches

Three years ago, the Campbell Live team began looking into kids' lunchboxes and they haven't stopped since. Their campaign began in 2012, when they compared lunchboxes from students at decile 1 schools with those from decile 10.

What they found sparked a Campbell movement and in conjunction with KidsCan, they began a Lunchbox Day initiative, to raise money for children living in poverty throughout New Zealand. The programme raised more than $500,000, to go towards four KidsCan's programmes.


The show continued to champion the issue up until last month and has raised more than $2 million in total.


On February 22, 2011, Christchurch was struck by its deadly earthquake and Campbell Live was there. And it stayed. The show and Campbell championed the city and its people as both struggled, first to make sense of what had happened, and then to make sense of the chaos around insurance claims and payouts and, later, the rebuild.

"Everyone goes and covers an event like that as spot news," Campbell said last year. "We just kept going back and suddenly we were going in to bat for people." The show's coverage of Christchurch saw it developing a style more centred on advocacy journalism.

John Key and the GCSB

In 2013, the Government's controversial and widely misunderstood GCSB bill went before Parliament and became another of Campbell Live's advocacy campaigns. Over a number of weeks, the show went on the road around New Zealand in attempt to engage Kiwis on the issue and to drum up opposition to the bill.

The show's good work around the issue was partly undone when Campbell was finally able to lure Prime Minister John Key into his studio to debate the issue live in an interview that was wildly regarded as a huge win for Key.

Campbell, usually an accomplished interviewer delivered a "graceless and embarrassing performance" according to media commentator Dr Brian Edwards.

Stolen Medals

In February 2008, Campbell landed what appeared to be a major scoop when he interviewed - or so he said - one of the thieves who stole precious war medals from Waiouru's National Army Museum in 2007.

In a taped interview, a hooded man, called 'Robert' was questioned by Campbell, who said an actor's voice would be used to keep the man's identity secret. It later emerged the interview with the alleged criminal took place outside the studio, and the man on television was an actor. Complaints to the BSA that Campbell Live had misled viewers were upheld and Campbell apologised for the mistake.

Sharon Van Etten

John Campbell was moved to tears when his favourite singer Sharon Van Etten made a surprise appearance on the show.
John Campbell was moved to tears when his favourite singer Sharon Van Etten made a surprise appearance on the show.

In March this year,


Campbell Live

reporter Ali Ikram organised for Sharon Van Etten, an American singer-songwriter Campbell was besotted with, to perform a song for him live. Campbell, a massive fan, couldn't make her Auckland show. Wiping away tears, Campbell told viewers: "I'm completely taken aback ... I had no idea this was happening ... I love Sharon's music a stupidly large amount and have for many years and I'm a bit overwhelmed by this."

Simon Bridges' brain explosion

Possibly keen to replicate his boss' triumph, Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges began firing broadsides at Campbell from the moment his mic went live. But if he was hoping to prove the case for deep-sea drilling off the Kaikoura coast he ended up torching himself.

From the minister's first attempt at redirecting a straight question, the two set about wasting valuable airtime shouting over each other. As car crash television, it was gripping enough for the show's producers to extend the segment, but by the end Campbell was reduced to shaking his head and muttering "With due respect, you came in and shouted a lot of nonsense. Is there such a thing as you just turn up and shout?"

Synthetic Cannabis

In a campaign made for pictures, the show spent night after night broadcasting the all-aged parade of desperadoes queuing outside synthetic high outlets around the country while also interviewing addicts and discussing the products' safety. After the show dared various government ministers to come along for a look, Peter Dunne eventually caved in and spent some time observing one particularly derelict store and its equally derelict patrons. His shock gave us the rare opportunity of seeing government policy being reshaped on the hoof.

All Blacks in Samoa

In classic Campbell Live form, this was all about fairness. Samoans, New Zealand-born and immigrant, have been a staple in All Black sides for decades yet we've not once played a test in the islands.

Reporters vox popped opinions both here and in Samoa to build an iron-clad argument that things must change. Amazingly, for an organisation that gives every indication of prioritising its own needs first and foremost every time, the New Zealand Rugby Union capitulated.

An honourable mention must also go to the sausage sizzle Campbell held on Ponsonby Rd during the Rugby World Cup to help cover the $10,000 fine issued to Samoan player Alesana Tuilagi for wearing an incorrect mouth guard.

Driving Dogs

It's all about the numbers. Yes, it was a silly, throwaway story about two dogs, Porter and Monty, who'd been trained to drive a modified car around a race track, but in a world that loves nothing more than a cutesy animal story, this was one for the ages.

At one point reporter Tristram Clayton climbed in for a ride. At last look, the original YouTube clip had been viewed more than 13 million times, which isn't quite up there with Lorde's Royals video (470 million and counting), but look, they're dogs and they're driving.