Back in 2006 a Listener article about digital media in New Zealand suggested that TV series' from the TVNZ archives might be made available for public download under some sort of a creative commons license in the future:

Among the 50 or so free clips from the TVNZ archive at launch are likely to be – subject to rights clearance – some iconic New Zealand series. Say, The Governor?

“That’s my plan,” says Ellis. “There are some rights issues that we need to navigate, but wouldn’t that be great? I’d love to see The Governor back up there.”

That site for this appeared as reality in the form of TVNZ ondemand with a few clips from the past. Over time a few archival clips appeared, and they opened a youtube chanel to highlight some material.

According to The Press (Feb 2008) ...TVNZ is expected to add another 10 to 20 more old shows to the "classics" section of ondemand this year, says Jason Paris, the network's head of emerging business. Such shows as The Governor, Pukemanu and, hopefully, Gloss, although the latter is proving to be something of a rights nightmare.

But then sometime in 2008 the site got a makeover and focused more on being catch-up service for current TV shows both local and international, and the archival material disappeared. About the same time NZ On Screen appeared, operating as an online archive for New Zealand's moving image media. NZ On Air initiated the NZ On Screen project in 2007 as an integral part of its digital strategy with select episodes from shows such as The Governor being added to the site over the years.

Since 1989 NZ On Air has funded over 15,000 hours of local television production. Much of this content, as well as thousands more hours supported by broadcasters, film investors and other funding sources, is not easily accessible to the public.

NZ On Screen is unlocking the treasure chest, providing access to the wealth of television, film, music video and new media produced in NZ, along with knowledgeable background information.

Fast forward to 2021 and New Zealanders have a myriad of on-demand services available to them, from local broadcasters with a few more recent shows available:

to international providers with not much kiwi content all:

and of course some Kiwi material turns up on youtube now and then as individuals go through their old video tapes and upload their favourite clip. 

Trying to keep track of shows availability is a hard task as shows appear and disappear off platforms as deals are done and then expire so quickly. A good source of info on Kiwi shows streaming in the US is, and services such as Justwatch can help if you have a particular show in mind. Most new shows are streamed these days, my focus is older shows and I've noticed a few of these with what seem to be official streaming options:

Sadly there aren't that many classic Kiwi TV amongst them; even most shows that were briefly available on DVD are missing an online digital presence. A quick look at adding more recent shows to the site suggests most new shows disappear from local broadcasters on demand hubs after 2 or 3 years unless they have been picked up for new seasons..

I must admit I cannot think why classic local content isn't being exploited more by TVNZ and others at a time that on demand services are in bidding wars to lock in content to attract subscribers. I guess perhaps the minefield of talent clearances is the obstacle, or could it be a simple lack of quality master tapes from which to source shows?

When Chris Schulz from The Spinoff examined the issue the general consensus from folks in the industry seemed to be the owners of the old shows don't believe demand for older shows is there, and in that case costly restoration projects are just too prohibitive. Sadly I'm not convinced we'll see much older material turn up if producers think everything has to be blueray 4k quality to be worth watching. A self imposed hurdle is often the highest. 


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