Bizarre and iconic Kiwi-made TV brought comfort to the lounge, writes Alex Casey.

Like the cross-stitch that hangs in every New Zealander's lounge states, TV home is where the Heartland is. Unfortunately, TVNZ is having a clearout, and Heartland will cease to air on May 31.

Since its sentimental launch in June 2010, 50 years to the day since television broadcasting began in Godzone, the channel has delivered strictly Kiwi-made shows.

Losing Heartland is a tremendous blow to our television landscape, and I truly shudder to think where on earth I'm going to get my fill of Jackson's Wharf-era Robbie Magasiva come June.

Heartland is the television equivalent of exploring a dusty attic. At first, it seems too intimidatingly vast - but get stuck and you'll find many loveable family heirlooms stashed away.

A Dog's Show was one programme that served up a pretty clear picture of who we were as a country.
A Dog's Show was one programme that served up a pretty clear picture of who we were as a country.

There are trophies from golden eras (Eating Media Lunch), bizarre pieces of experimental artwork that were adored by a select group but quietly shelved by your square parents (Late Night Big Breakfast, Wayne Anderson: Singer of Songs), and boxes of movies on VHS that you never thought you'd watch again. It's all there. You might only pop up there to have a rake around once in a while, but it's all there. Until, of course, it's not.

Losing Heartland will mean losing easy access to both the bizarre and the iconic corners of our televisual past and present. Local commissions for the channel such as I Was There and There and Back transported viewers through history and across the country, gently lead by some of New Zealand's most-loved presenters.

The four-part series I Was There chronicled NZ history from the 1960s by each decade, hosted by the likes of Douglas Stevenson and Judy Bailey. There and Back sent Matt Gibb, formerly TVNZ's other canned youth channel U, deep into the archives to track down the local legends that made TV history. We see a ripped young Gary McCormick hanging 10 in Raglan, a bowling world champ returning to form in Whanganui. I worry that without Heartland, we'll have to rely solely on The Bachelor hometown visits for our fill of regional New Zealand.

It's the loss of curation that will hurt the most. NZ On Screen is a treasure trove, but is about as difficult to comprehend as The Strip-era Magasiva's abs (that's on Heartland as well, by the way). Heartland boasts several themed evenings. Kiwi Gold with Penny Ashton, a look at finest moments in Kiwi broadcasting, a New Zealand documentary night hosted by Wallace Chapman and Film Friday hosted by Dominic Corry.

We won't get anything remotely close to the in-depth obscurity of Kiwi Gold on our screens again, and Maori TV will have to maintain their already stellar film programming to keep older New Zealand films onscreen. It's a lovely communal touch having expert New Zealanders guide us through themed nights - Chapman is put to far better use here than on Good Morning's Men's Panel.

The biggest part of Heartland's charm is that it passes no judgment on New Zealand's television past, shedding light on both our good and bad TV, to serve up a pretty clear picture of who we are as a country - and who we were.

We sent psychics to solve crimes. We had a dog show called The Dog Show that screened for 15 years. Our fashion awards were presented by Benson and Hedges at the same time that Country Calendar ran an episode about a sheep-shearing rock 'n' roll band called The Dickheads.

We quietly have a hell of a TV history, and if our silent archivist in the attic is removed who will we become? No matter what ratings suggest, we aren't The Bachelor, or Dancing with the Stars. We're A Dog's Show . And, if we can't be A Dog's Show any more - what are we?