With our ability to flatten a vowel at 20 paces, New Zealanders possess an accent most kindly described internationally as ''unique''. Proving nigh impossible for Hollywood to understand, let alone emulate, our best screen examples still emanate from our own back yard, proudly growing more Kiwi as time passes.
New Zild follows the evolution of New Zealand English, from the "colonial twang" to Billy T and beyond. Jim Mora interviews famous local faces, while attempting to get to the bottom of some classic Kiwi-isms. Linguist Elizabeth Gordon explains the infamous HRT (High Rising Terminal) that we're renowned for ending our sentences with. Eh?
Watch New Zild - The Story of New Zealand English here:
This great compilation compresses 21 years of local TV newsreading into four minutes. In it, a huge shift in ''acceptable'' broadcasting tones can also be heard. Presenter Bill Toft opens proceedings, his 1966 bulletin delivered in a manner lifted straight from the BBC. Along the way, Philip Sherry, Angela D'Audney, Judy Bailey and others, show a slow but steady transition to a more distinctive New Zealand style.
Watch Reading the News here:
Arriving on screen in the 1980s, Radio with Pictures host Karyn Hay made no apologies for speaking like a Kiwi, sparking some polarised reaction and the odd merciless impersonation. Seen here namechecking 1983's best rockers in inimitable style, we'd favour an apology from TVNZ's wardrobe department for the way they dressed her.
See a clip from Radio with Pictures here:
Over the years, our accent has also served as the basis for some of our most enduring comedic characters. A notable example can be found in Fred Dagg, the gumboot-clad Taihape farmer and archetypal Kiwi bloke. The creation of satirist John Clarke, Dagg became famous in the 1970s for his trademark drawl and string of swiftly adopted catchphrases. From "Ah, yeah, gidday!", to "kick it in the guts, Trev!", he could only originate from New Zealand.
See John Clarke discussing Fred Dagg here, on Face to Face with Kim Hill:
Shining a linguistic spotlight on the suburbs, Ginette McDonald's Lyn of Tawa also debuted in the '70s, inspired by the voices of local talkback radio callers. Delivering monotone tales from her quarter-acre of domestic bliss, Lyn quickly became a hit. Testament to her realism, fans still continue to confuse McDonald with her famous alter ego.
A Week of It launched the TV careers of several notable New Zealand comedians, among them the late Jon Gadsby. Poking fun at Kiwi culture and topical issues, the show resonated well with local audiences, a standout quickly emerging in Gadsby's gormless character Wayne. Though notable for his own whiny vocals, Wayne is perhaps most famously known for inspiring the classic Kiwi put-down "Jeez, Wayne".
Watch the debut episode of A Week of It here: