NZ On Screen’s Nicky Harrop looks back at some of the less likely times New Zealand has made international headlines.

While it's not uncommon for New Zealand to make international news, generally our politics, or achievement in sports or the arts, are common themes. From time to time, however, some of our more quirky tales, or local coverage of celebrities, goes global. The following represent some of the more unusual stories broken from New Zealand - remember, you heard it here first.

December 2012 saw a "world first" draw the gaze of international media our way. Proving that dogs can indeed be taught new tricks, Campbell Live followed rescue pooches Monty and Porter as they learned how to drive a Mini, each getting behind the wheel at an Auckland go-kart track. The stunt was revealed as a collaboration between the show, the SPCA, and animal trainer Mark Vette, designed to challenge perceptions of the intelligence of rescue animals. The footage quickly attracted global attention, inspiring recent UK series Dogs Might Fly, in which Vette attempts to teach a rescue dog to fly a plane.

Watch the Campbell Live driving dogs here:

Coronation Street's William Roache (Ken Barlow) made international headlines in 2013, following an interview by Kiwi current affairs show Sunday. Commenting on the then-recent sex abuse charges faced by his co-star Michael Le Vell, he defended him, adding a remark that appeared to partially blame Le Vell's victims. Roache later apologised for any offence caused. Two months later he faced his own charges of rape and indecent assault, but was found not guilty on all counts.

See William Roache interviewed by Sunday here:


1983's New Zealand Royal Tour provided the world with paparazzi gold, all thanks to the antics of baby Prince William. Prepped for a scheduled photo opportunity on the lawn of Auckland's Government House, Wills quickly upstaged doting parents Charles and Diana, crawling purposefully towards a Buzzy Bee and attempting to bite the antenna off the local icon. The scene was broadcast around the world, and, one would hope, may well have been pulled out for a laugh at William's 21st.

Watch Prince William meet the Buzzy Bee here:

In 1985, Prime Minister David Lange gave a speech that drew international attention to both New Zealand's anti-nuclear stance, and his skill as an orator. Lange contested and won the Oxford Union debate, successfully arguing the proposition that "nuclear weapons are morally indefensible" against American evangelist Jerry Falwell. Illustrating his trademark wit, Lange's performance quickly went wide, his "I can smell the uranium on it [your breath]" comeback in particular becoming the stuff of legend.

See footage of David Lange's Oxford Union speech here (at around 7'30" into this clip from the documentary series Revolution)

1985 also saw the "disappearance" of American tourist Milton Harris, thought to be lost overboard from the Cook Strait ferry Arahura. What followed became one of New Zealand's most bizarre insurance frauds, eventually thwarted by Harris' arrest, four years later in Auckland. Harris' story took an international turn when it was revealed he'd used his time on the run to create a new identity - and a new family - while still regularly communicating with his "widow" back home in Baton Rouge. Following his capture he was extradited back to Louisiana, only to disappear once again after jail time. Harris' "wife" during his NZ escapade was reported missing at the same time. He eventually resurfaced in Northern Ireland in 2011.

Watch Bungay on Crime - A Ferry Tale here:

You can see more examples of New Zealand stories that went global here, in NZ On Screen's When NZ Made World News collection.