It was the decade of shoulder pads, the Springbok tour, the sharemarket crash and more.

It was also the decade New Zealand began to really find its feet on screen, with some big homegrown hits at the box office, and a wide range of local television programming commissioned.

Pre-dating The Office by a good 20 years, Gliding On was set in the paper-pushing world of New Zealand's early-80s public service.

Our first locally made sitcom to be deemed a classic; the series was based on Roger Hall's hit play Glide Time, clearly striking a chord with many desk-bound Kiwis. "Morning Jim!"


Watch the debut episode of Gliding On here:

1980 also saw the arrival of our very first police drama - Mortimer's Patch. The series followed city cop Doug Mortimer (Terence Cooper), recently returned to his not-so-sleepy rural roots. Proving popular, the series ran for three seasons, with Mortimer battling a seemingly endless small-town crime wave.

Watch the debut episode of Mortimer's Patch here:

For a generation of Kiwi music fans, Radio with Pictures was essential viewing during the 80s. The series launched in 1976, but really hit its stride the following decade, riding the coattails of the music video boom, and capturing a hugely important era in New Zealand music history. This 1984 clip sees host Karyn Hay interviewing visiting UK punk-popster Billy Idol, his trademark sneer firmly in place.

See Billy Idol on Radio with Pictures here:

Younger viewers were also well catered for in the 80s, with the arrival of some classic Kiwi kids shows. Providing a platform for many of them was After School, a weekday afternoon programme that hosted links between shows, skits, songs and more.

Originally presented by Olly Ohlson, After School ran throughout the decade, breaking ground in its use of te reo, and cementing the catchphrase "Keep cool till after school". Later hosts included Annie Roache and Jason Gunn, with the show also launching the career of Gunn's puppet sidekick, Thingee.

See an excerpt from After School here:

Also targeting a younger audience was It's Academic, representing a TV genre hugely popular in 80s New Zealand - the quiz show. Testing the general knowledge of local high school students, the programme was first hosted - fittingly enough - by future Minister of Education, Lockwood Smith. This 1983 episode sees teams from Onslow, Wellington and Newlands colleges compete for digital watches, and a giant Encyclopedia Britannica set.

Watch an episode of It's Academic here:

Regional news shows also gained traction in the 80s, with the arrival of The South Tonight and The Mainland Touch in the South Island, Today Tonight in Wellington, and Top Half in Auckland (and the wider North Island). Presented by the "dream team" of John Hawkesby and Judy Bailey, Top Half reported on a wide variety of issues. Amongst these excerpts there's a glimpse of David Bowie's record-breaking 1983 concert at Western Springs; the people of Ponsonby worry that their suburb's character is being lost to developers; and in K Road, there is coverage of a multicultural street festival.

See excerpts from Top Half here:

You can see more great local TV moments from the 80s here, in NZ On Screen's Collection.