Life in a rural town where the main employer is a sawmill.

Season 1

Pukemanu - Pukemanu Welcomes YouPukemanu Welcomes You (Screened on Central TV, other regional channels after that.)
A bikie gang pass through the quiet forest town and an unexpected relationship develops as a woman seeks to escape domineering parents.
Credits: Diana Thorpe: GINETTE MACDONALD
Phyllis Telford: PAT EVISON
Bikie gang members include: BILL STALKER, BRUNO LAWRENCE
Film Cameraman: MAX PUDNEY
Executive Producer: DOUGLAS DRURY

Risk Extreme
Writer: Julian Dickon
A man on the run aggrivates tension in a town preoccupied with a severe midsummer drought.
Kevin Wilson, Wilter Pym, Grant Tilly, Sue Hanson, Noel Trevarthen. Producer, Terry Isaac.

What would uncle Harry Say?
Writer: Julian Dickon
Mark Gold's plan to enter the trucking industry by his brother David.
Noel Trevarthan, Peter Vere-Jines, Dorothy Smith, John Johnstone, Dorothy McKegg, Tony Barry, Christine Bartlett. Producer David Stevens

Convenient Excuse
Writer: Michael Noonan
A girl is forced to re-examine her decision to teach in Pukemanu when she unwittingtly antagonies part of the community.
Derryn Cooper, Peter Vere-Jones, Han Van Wamel, Pat Evlson. Producer Murray Reece.

A Soft Answer
Writer: Hamish Keith.
Feelings run high between truck drivers and a local farmer over access to a forest block.
William Johnson, Robyn Cox, lan Mune, Pat Evison, Grant McFarland, Tom Poata. Producer Donald Hope Evans

Charlie's Rock
Writer: Hamish Keith.
A simple business decision intrudes on Maoritanga.
Ernie leonard, Helen Harte, Henry Northcroft, Jackson Smith, James Moriarty,Molly Wanikau, Peter Vere-Jones. Producer, Tony Isaac(final)

Above: Noel Trevarthan, Christine Bartlett, lan Mune, and Robyn Cox

Season 2

The Match (Screened on Central Television, Thursday September 14 1972, 8.17 p.m.; Northern Television, CHTV-3 and DNTV-2 in successive weeks.)
The Pukemanu Rugby Team are sure they can win when pro League Player Hemi Walker returns to town. But for his Sister and family, Hemi's home coming is not so welcome, A young Maori mother whose husband is in jail is befriended by a local man. A rugby league game between Pukemanu locals and Australian contractors has underlying emotional and social tensions.
Credits: Myra MacKay: SUE HANSEN
Richards: ROBIN DENE
Phyllis Telford: PAT EVISON
Also extras include : DON SELWYN, JIM MORIARTY
Producer: TONY ISAAC
Film Cameraman: WAYNE WILLIAMS
Film Editor: SIMON REECE
Executive Producer: DOUGLAS DRURY

Never Play Favourites,
Writer: Roger Hall.
A midweek jackpot meeting grips the town but -the new forest manager’s agreement to a company holiday leads to a showdown with Mark Gold. Producer, Murray Reece

Who Needs Enemies?
Writer: Fiona Kidman and Michael Noonan.
Life in Pukemanu could be too quiet even for a local, let alone Mrs Marion Draper from the big city. But the Drapers find more in Pukemanu than they expect.
Dell King, Lincoln Rowland, Con O'Leary, Tony Barry John Paikau, Pat Evison. Producer, Tony Isaac

If There's Anything I Can Do to Help,
Writer: lan Mune. The Rev. Peter McKelvie walks into more than a church bazaar when he arrives in his first parish. At once he is concerned more deeply than he realises in an uneasy domestic situation.
Harry Lavington, Pamela James, lan Mune, Tony Barry, Tom Poata, Pat Evison. Producer, John Charles

Writer: Keith Aberdein.
On a school trip to Wellington Anne Weaver encounters the boyfriend she walked out on a year apo. And in Pukemanu, threatened by a takeover, Dan Harrigan finds old friends aren't aways welcome.
Tommy Barry, Aian Miller, Deryn Cooper, Michael Noonan, Pat Evison. Producer Murray Reece

Vested Interest (final)
Writer: Hamish Keith and Michael Noonan.
The struggle between pakeha land-use and Maori Ownership is as old as . European settlement. The logging company try to strong-arm local Maori into leasing them 11 000 acres of Maori land entirely surrounded by company land. Riftsdevelop in both the general community and company management over the issue, with some arguing Maori are obliged to lease the land in order to ensure the town's livelihood. A public meeting is called in an attempt to resolve the town's conflicts.
William Johnson, Robyn Cox, lan Mune, Grant McFarland, Dan Harrigan: Tony Barry
John Halloran: Michael Noonan
Koro: Jackson Smith
Alan Turner: ALAN JERVIS
Pieter Devries: HAN VAN WAMEL
Phyllis Telford: PAT EVISON
Dr. Rhyder: IAN WATKIN
Gary Devries: TIM EVISON
Frank Maddock: MICHAEL WOOLF
Producer / Director: JOHN CHARLES
Executive Producer: DOUGLAS DRURY
Technical Producer: STUART MURRAY
Film Camera: MAX PUDNEY
Film Editor: SIMON REECE
Videotape Editor: BERNICE DEAN
Studio Sound: BILL ACKLAND
Production Assistants: MARK SANDERS, SONYA PITT
Properties: REX PEKIN

Above: Tony Barry, Con O'leary, Dell King, Harry Lavington, and Pamela James.

Media coverage

Production report: Pukemanu's Progressing

From the NZ Listener Dec 14, 1970

To an outsider, work on the NZBC’s first TV drama series might seem agonisingly slow. But an episode a month is as “normal” a production speed as anything in television ever is. About half of some episodes of Pukemanu are being shot outdoors, and this causes many delays because of varying light and weather. Nevertheless, production. and editing of one episode is complete, and by Christmas another 50-minute episode will be “in the can”. It 1s hoped to screen the series in July next year.

Pukemanu is capitalising on the talents of New Zealand and Australian actors with overseas experience. The outstanding example is Noel Trevarthen, a fourth-generation New Zealander who studied architecture in California and Europe, and farmed for some time in Ireland before becoming an actor. He spent four years in repertory throughout England, appearing in theatres in Harrogate, Torquay and Bournemouth, the Flora Robson Playhouse, the Richmond Theatre in London and the Theatre Royal at Windsor.

He had parts in the original West End productions of Watch It Sailor and Midsummer Mink, and has appeared in many TV shows, including The Saint, Danger Man, The Rag Trade, Armchair Theatre, Love Story, Spycatcher, Trial of Admiral Byng, No Hiding Place and Hit and Run — all shown in this country. He also appeared in episodes of Emergency Ward 10 and The Plane Makers, and starred in the top-rating Riviera Police for London’s Rediffusion, His films include Sink the Bismark (immortalised by Johnny Horton’s rousing song), Where . There's a Will, song), Where There's a Will, several Edgar Wallace mystery movies and the Beatles’ first, A Hard Day's Night. He also acted in two Italian films and made an appearance in The Vengeance of Fu Manchu, It and Corruption. In Pukemanu, he plays David Gold, one of two brothers who own a forest.

His casting in Pukemanu resulted from an Australian holiday two years ago. He stayed in Australia to make the TV series Motel, then appeared in Riptide and Contrabandits (produced by fellow Aucklander Eric Taylor, a former BBC drama producer) before returning to London.

This visit led to his return to Sydney last year to star in 39 episodes of the Australian colour adventure series The Rovers, now being considered by the NZBC. After finishing work on this series, he plunged straight into the stage comedy The Secretary Bird with Avenger Patack Macnee. His eight-months tour of Australia and New Zealand with this play gave him the opportunity to visit his family in Auckland and to appeal as David Gold in Pukemanu. He has just retuned to Austeatia for another episode of Dynasty, A new Australian TV series.

Playing David Golds wife in Pukemanu is Christine Bartlett, another Aucklander who has done TV work in Australia. She will be known to Northerners for her role in Dances at Sea at the Mercury Theatre. Tom Poata, secretary of the Maori Organisation on Human Rights, appears in an episode as a truck driver. Also in the series is Tony Barry, an Australian actor.

Produced by Douglas Drury, the series has four directors: David Stevens, Murray Reece, Donald Hope Evans and Tony Isaac. The producer has found that the main problem is logistics. The shooting locations are spread over a very wide area, he explains. We've shot film at Atiamuri, Kainearoa forest, Akatarawa and Wellington. It’s a matter of organising things so that all the actors will be on location at the right times. Some come from Auckland, some from Christchurch and so on.

Weather also poses problems. Clouds scudding across the sun cause variations in lighting too drastic for the camera to handle. We have tried filming in wet weather, says Mr Drury. But it was no use, because water kept getting into the sound gear. We put up an umbrella to cover. the tape-recorder, but the sound of rain pelting on the umbrella was so loud we had to stop recording anyway.

Another worry is the wind. Wellington is notorious for its stiff breezes, and the sound of air moving past a microphone is very hard to disguise. Much of the footage has been shot outside, and interested crowds of spectators frequently gathered. This can be a problem, says Douglas. The film manager has had to keep people away and tell onlookers to keep quiet. We didn’t have to worry about this in the more remote locations, of course.

Each episode is self-contained, Douglas continues. The location is the only continuing theme, though some of the actors appear in several episodes. It’s the first drama series the NZBC has made. The Alpha Plan was before it, of course, but this is somewhat more ambitious than that, because each episode in The Alpha Plan was thirty minutes long, while Pukemanu has fifty-minute episodes.

Julian Dickon has written three scripts for the series, and other writers are also preparing scripts.

TV Drama: down from the ivory tower

By Alexander Fry, originally published in the NZ Listener, March 29, 1971

When a building worker comes yodelling home five hours late with the big news that he’s become a TV actor, his wife may not be thrilled.

I think you've been in the pub, eh?

But it’s the truth. He's been an extra in the Pukemanu drama series. An NZBC cheque a week or two later convinces his doubting wife.

Tony Isaac, director of two Pukemanu episodes, recruited five workers from a Wellington building site for walk-on parts as bushmen in Risk Extreme. Their story is repeated many times among the 200-odd players who appear in the six-part drama.

We had great difficulty finding enough good professional actors in the right age groups for particular roles, says Douglas Drury, executive producer for the series. In England there might be 50 on the books who could play a certain role; we're lucky if we have one.

So Tony Isaac, Murray Reece, David Stevens and Donald Hope Evans, the four directors engaged on Pukemanu, have been choosing ordinary men and women who look right for some of the smaller parts, and coaxing performances from them.

Tom Poata, a truck driver, was so good as the imperturbable logging contractor Angus in one of Murray Reece’s episodes that he seems likely to become a star. Angus has been given a bigger part in other Pukemanu dramas, and Tony Isaac predicts that he is one of a handful of characters whom viewers will miss when the series comes to an end.

The man-in-the-street approach helps solve another problem that plagued the NZBC drama team — how to obtain convincing New Zealand accents.

Many of our professional actors are English-born, and the New Zealand ones have been trained out of their New Zealand accents, says Douglas Drury. The New Zealand accent is most subtle, and most actors trying to do it sound like Australians.

Once they learn to relax and be themselves in front of the cameras, non-actors have no such problems. They speak as they would in everyday life.

Even so, the workmen-actors are impressed by the expertise of the professionals. Having learnt from experience that acting ts not Something anybody can do, they are generous in their praise. I've had extras come up to me and say of a professional —‘God that guy's good! says Tony Isaac.

The continuing characters of Pukemanu, a fictional North Island timber town, are mostly played by professionals. Pat Evison plays Phyllis Telford the storekeeper, Ian Watkin is Hamilton Rhyder the doctor, Harry Lavington is Roger Denning the policeman, Peter Vere-Jones is Mark Gold of the forest management, Michael Woolf is Frank the publican, and Grant McFarlane a bushman, Tahu, who boards with the storekeeper.

Shooting Pukemanu’s six 50-minute programmes —the equivalent of two full-length feature films— is a big project, costing well over $100,000.

The reason becomes clear when Tony Isaac laments New Zealand’s variable weather and talks about standing with a camera crew for an entire afternoon, with a light meter in his hand, waiting for the sunlight to be right.

And while waiting around for a forest fire to film, he’s been making do with smoke bombs. They cost $5 each and last two minutes. If the smoke fails to drift in the right direction, or the wind veers, or the light isn’t right at the time, or the sound recordist isn’t happy, the sequence has to be shot again.

Even the beginning of the production process the writing needs an eye for expediency. You begin with a set of immutable facts —availability of actors, economics, how much film can be shot, the resources for scenes, says Hamish Keith, writer of two Pukemanu plays. It's exciting juggling all these conditions and coming up with something at the end which is a result of a lot of people’s efforts.

Unlike many established writers, whom Douglas Drury says look down on TV as a mass medium not worth their attention, Hamish Keith began writing for TV because it appealed to a mass audience.

I believe it’s a genuine cultural manifestation within our society, in which anyone with a care for cultural development should take an intense and positive interest, he says. And New Zealand TV drama should not be just an optional extra. Perhaps our style should be based on the | Wojeck style —the documentary drama— which seems to suit our environment and temperament.

To give Pukemanu documentary realism as a forestry town, NZBC drama teams have ranged widely over the country. Viewers trying to identify a real town must fail. Pukemanu’s pub is in Martinborough, for example, and its milk-bar-store in Atiamuri. Other scenes have been shot in the Akatarawas, near Wellington, in Whakarewarewa and Kaingaroa Forest, at Galatea, and in studios at Auckland and Wellington.

Even the last can be made realistic. For the episode Charlie's Rock, a bar, was built in the Auckland studios, and a group. of refuse-disposal men acting as Pukemanu drinkers got a lift from the discovery that beer was on tap. Tony Isaac sang with them for a while till their camera-shyness evaporated.

In a series, some of the expensive sets can be used again, so although the bill for Pukemanu will be $100,000-plus, each individual play will cost less to produce than such single dramas as lan Cross’s The City Of No and Warren Dibble’s The Killing Of Kane, which TV Drama will also put on our screens this year.

What they all demand is a co-operative effort surprising even to persons experienced in stage and radio drama. Dorothy Smith, a Welsh-born professional actress who makes her first TV appearance in the Julian Dickson episode What Would Uncle Harry Say? found the technical adjustment not great: For radio you have to come down from stage anyway; for TV you come down even more. What really struck her were the “fabulous spirit” of the TV team, which rapidly made everybody a part of the enterprise and the pleasure of working with complete amateurs.

The producer looks for a face, or a type, she says, but soon you are getting performances out of them. Everybody helps one another.

Tony Isaac puts the same thing in another way —I wouldn't pick a guy off a rubbish cart to play a character with schizophrenia, for example, but in the small parts where they work with professionals, a few of the skills of the professionals rub off on the amateurs, and some of the reality of the others rubs off on to the professionals.

When a script goes to a director it's a brief rather than a blueprint, says script editor Michael Noonan. We have to have writers who accept that producers, directors, script editors and sometimes actors may take a hand in making the finished product. After the first reading of one Pukemanu script, for example, 27 alterations were made. There would be more later. I think we are now discovering writers for the medium among New Zealand people —and the thing they have in common is a deep interest in TV.

So TV has reversed the old order, in which artists created in isolation and audiences enjoyed their work communally. Now the audience views alone or in small groups, and creative artists become less individual, more communal.

The future of TV drama in New Zealand, says Douglas Drury, will hinge on developing a style suited to the country (Wojeck is again invoked as an example) and on finding talented people who enjoy working in large and complex groups. With productions costing around $20,000 each, money could be a factor too.

Pukemanu - Mirror of our Society

From the NZ Listener, .

Burly truck driver Tom Toota doesn't concider acting his thing. That's there was No changing anything when he made the rather abrupt switch in one day from drivng for a Wellington marketing firm to making his acting debut in the television series Pukemanu.

In Pukemanu Tom Poata plays Angus in virtually a continuation of his day-to-day life. To be honest, Tom says, there was no acting in it. Driving trucks and drinking beer come naturally to him - and these are what Angus specialises in. And how do you act at drinking a glass of beer when it's the real stuff any- way?

Angus is one of the locals of Pukemanu, a fictional town in the centre of the North Island. The lives of its people are dominated by Pukemanu forest where most of the men earn their living as bushmen, logging contractors and sawmill workers. They work hard, drink hard, and tend to be suspicious of outsiders. The town's social focus, not unexpectedly, is the pub.

If something happens in Pukemanu it is likely to concern the forest. Relationships between management and workers are sometimes strained and natural disasters may intrude - a blow down in a storm or a forest fire. Anything else that is likely to shake the place up comes from outside, and several of the stories involve the fortunes of the people who visit Pukemanu or come to live there.

The aim behind Pukemanu is to reflect New Zealand society and the environment. Bill Austin, head of NZBC drama, says this is not going to happen by portraying tycoons walking around with briefcases and playing out power games in tall buildings. Rather, it would be a picture of tall trees, mountains, a crowd at a rugby match.

There is a certain ruggedness in the New Zealand environment, Bull Austin says, so we turned to something which could convey that - a vigorous rural industry that employs both our races.

A number of ideas for the subject of this first television series were considered by the NZBC's TV drama section. Forestry was finally decided on because one of New Zealand's few | experienced dramatists, Julian Dickon, has worked in forestry areas.

Certainly we wanted something with a range of dramatic possibilities and preferably contained in a geo- yraphic area, says executive producer Douglas Drury, who had the job of getting things into motion. One of the main problems was to find authors capable of writing plays that were realistic and approached New Zealand society in a balanced way.

We're not too concerned when we see an imported series with highly improbable stories, says Michael Noonan, script editor- for the TV drama section. I think a New Zealand-based series, because it's on familiar ground, has to have a ring of authenticity as well. In the behaviour of the characters and in the dialogue Pukemanu has tried to capture something of the flavour of New Zealand.

In a sense this has reduced dramatic licence but it has also forced a discipline on the writers, actors, producers and myself, which I hope will mean the stories are interesting and entertaining, without having to resort to the extraordinary or the artificial.

Julian Dickon, whose plays Genuine Plastic Marriage and Green Gin Sunset were screened on TV last year, was asked first to submit a series format and a first episode. At this stage the number of writers who would be able to write for the series was unknown, but it was always the intention to introduce others. In the end Julian Dickon wrote three episodes, Hamish Keith two and Michael Noonan one.

Some scripts were written after we went into production and we were able to incorporate aspects we had learnt as we went along, says Douglas Drury. Because of the large number of Maori people living in the central North Island and employed in forestry work, we were forced to introduce more and more of them even though there were difficulties with casting. The final episode - which illustrates' the organic growth of the series - is really about Maori society.

Pukemanu is a definite advance on what we've done before. In particular we are developing a New Zealand acting style. This is a beginning and it points in a hopeful direction.

The "continuing characters" of Pukemanu are played mostly by professionals or those with previous experience. Pat Evison piays Phyllis Telford the storekeeper, Ian Watkin is Hamilton Rhyder the doctor, Harry Lavington is Roger Denning the policeman, Peter Vere-Jones is Mark Gold of the forest managemenT, Michael Woolfe is Frank the publican and Grant McFarlane is Tahu, a bushman.

About 200 others appear in the six-part drama - most have never acted Before. Builders, rubbish collectors, truck drivers, housewives and even whole families take part. They "look" the part and sometimes that is all that's needed.

Some, like Tom Poata, were at first a little reluctant but later slipped into their parts with an ease that was often surprising. The only real worry was learning lines.

i thought that would be the hardest part, says Tom Poata. I imagined it to be like the old school play, but it wasn't. We were able to change lines to suit ourselves, as long as we got the idea across. We didn't have to stick exactly to the scripts. The directors let us do our own thing more or less. That made it easy.

The hours weren't bad either. As an actor, Tom Poata began about eight or nine in the morning; as a truck driver he began at five. When he wasn't required for filming he returned to the markets. His work mates, though amused, didn't regard his second occupation as anything extraordinary. The only thing that bothered him about acting was the seemingly endless waiting involved. Once it took 1 1/2 hours to get the right light and atmosphere for me to to light a cigarette.

But Tom Poata was impressed by the way things were organised, the way the professional actors and directors helped the amateurs, the friendliness of it all. The impression isn't accidental for Pukemanu was the result of a lot of serious thought and planning as to what kind of plays should producing and how. This was narrowed down to what wa, really practical for a country that has limited acting and writing resources

Bill Austin says: 1970 was really a consolidation year for the drama section, when the threads had to be pulled together and certain questions answered. We had to take bold decisions and reaffirm confidence in television as a medium that belong to the people of a country.

Our strong field in New Zealand is current affairs and news. Our sporadic prosentation of drama had been restricted to the single play (The Alpha Plan is the notable exception) whereas viewers are oriented to series. So to deserve the confidence, of the New Zealand public we wanted to give a series - and a series abo themselves. And in the series format a number of writers and a number producers can be given opportunity.

The producers involved with Pukemanu are Murray Reece, Tony Isaac, David Stevens and Donald Hope Evans.

The first episode - Pakemanu Welcomes You - was Murray Reece's first drama production for the NZBC. He has previously worked as a producer on Survey, in particular the dramatised documentary Time Out about an escaped prisoner. A Canterbury Universty fine arts diplomatist, Murray was a film camerman in Christchurch before attending a producer course in 1969, during which he made a private film Frank.

Risk Extreme, episode two of Pukenanu was also Tony Isaac's first play for the NZBC. Before joining the drama section he was director of On Camera for 18 months. His interest in theatre includes some acting at Wellington's Downstage.

The third episode of Pukemanu was David Stevens's third TV drama production. Last year he produced Genuine Plastic Marriage and Arthur K. Frupp 54. He alos worked on Survey and Campass

For Donald Hope Evans' A Soft Answer, episode five, was his production except for a religious drama broadcast last year, And Then Came John, which he wrote. He has appeared on TV as an actor, was TV critic for the New Zealand Herald producer of On Camera and frontman for the old Auckland Town and Around.

Pukemanu adds up to more than just another TV series. It has meant new experiences for all concerned. For some it will lead to more productions along similar lines but for others like Tom Poata it was a "oncer". If I had had to be an office clerk I would have been all fingers thumbs, he says. For him, Pukemanu was something new and fun while it lasted. For the TV drama section it was rather more. Our plans don't start and finish with Pukemanu, says Bill Austin It is a beginning. We are not sitting back with our feet up.

Return to Pukemanu

Second series gets underway.

From the NZ Listener February 7, 1972

Phyllis Telford, Dr Hamilton Ryder, Mark Gold, Tahu and Frank the publican will all be seen again taking life as it comes in the small North Island timber town of Pukemanu. A second series of the NZBC's most successful drama is on the way with scripts now being sought and assessed.

The public's acceptance of Pukemanu as a believable New Zealand setting with characters they could be identified with undoubtedly persuaded the NZBC to continue the series. When Pukemanu first went on screen in September last year the NZBC's head of drama, Bill Austin, gauged its popularity and before the end of the year had called together the writers and producers involved.

We looked at the episodes again to see where it had fallen down and where the criticisms might have teen right, he says. In fact we found the press criti- cisms were very constructive. Soon after another meeting was held including a number of prospective writers for a new series.

Ideas were not lacking although a pool of reliable script writers is still not available in New Zealand, according to the script editor for both series, Michael Noonan. He has commissioned a number of writers to draft out episodes for consideration. Among them are a selection from those who wrote the last Pukemanu series and the Section Seven series due on screen soon.

By working well ahead Mr Noonan hopes all the scripts can be ready and shot in order so that Pukemanu 2 should be a more professional production. For the previous series script problems meant that episodes were written and filmed out of order and therefore the stories had to be self-contained.

The major change, says Bill Austin, will be advance planning so that while each story will continue to be self-contained serialisation threads will run through the six-part series. The management of the mill, which is the reason for Pukemanu's existence, will provide the focal point of the series. Michael Noonan believes it is essential that the viewer is aware of the background against which any action takes place.

The writers who have been commissioned to do specific episodes know the context of their story while the script editor ensures that the episodes follow through consistently to produce a coherent picture.

But there is no danger that Pukemanu will become a series about big business, says Michael Noonan. The series will be more sophisticated in technique so that there should be fewer loose ends. Characters who proved successful last time will be developed more fully.

For Pat Evison, Ian Watkin, Michael Woolf and the other stars of the first series the decision to go ahead in this slightly different way will mean more opportunities for their acting abilities.

The town of Pukenanu will be recreated in the same pubs and dairies in the central North Island that gained brief publicity last year. But all studio work this me will be filmed in Wellington under the overall production of Douglas Drury. This means that the leading actors will not have to split their time three ways - between Wellington, Auckland and on location - and there will be just one pool of actors for small walk-on parts.

Filming will take place from March and if all goes well Pukemanu should be on screen by September. Right now all depends on the scripts and TV drama staff are anxiously sorting through the drafts - those sent in unsclicited by the public and those commisioned.

A total of 27 writers were commissioned to write material for the 11 episodes of Section 7 and even then substantial re-drafting had to take place. It will not be until early March that the final shape of Pukemanu 2 will emerge from the drama workshops of the NZBC.

Pukemanu under way again

Listener article from April 17, 1972

All going well, the return of spring this year will see also the return of Pukemanu. Filming for the second series began at Easter with the Pukemanu races. New scriptwriters have come, with six new self contained stories, having within them serialisation threads connecting one with the other.

Basically, Pukemanu and its people are the same as before, though David Gold has departed and two newcomers, one of whom is played by Alan Jervis, join the township. The management of the mill which is the reason for Pukemanu’s existence provides the focal point of the series.

In the first series a number of new characters were introduced each week and the story revolved around them. This time the stories will focus more on the people of Pukemanu -- for example, the bush workers, seen only in minor roles before, will play more important parts.

With one series behind them, producers of Pukemanu know their strengths and weaknesses and have been tying up a few loose ends The script writers - Hamish Keith, Roger Hall, Fiona Kidman, Keith Aberdein and Ian Mune met the producers and discussed ideas about plots; characters and the series as a whole and where each episode would fit in the ‘development of a complete and coherent story.

“We looked very critically at the first series,” said executive producer Douglas Drury. “We know some episodes were weaker than others. We have tried to strengthen up this series.”

The success of the first series of Pukemanu came to the producers as “somewhat of a surprise”.

"Obviously we were hoping people would enjoy it," said Douglas Drury, “but it was more of a success than we had hoped for. And that frightens us a little be cause people will be tending to look at the first series through rose coloured spectacles and expecting Pukemanu this time to be so much better. It is difficult to build on success.

“The first series was something of a 'baptism by fire’ for us, and we learnt an awful lot. This time we have been. able to plan things more deliberately because we know our capabilities.

“To do a 5O minute drama is a big logistical undertaking - it’s expensive and needs a terrific amount of organisation. But we are trying to cope with these problems and are better able to do so because of past experience. Trying to do things like this in New Zealand is still something of a new venture.”

Whether there will be a third series of Pukemanu depends a lot on public response, but there is a limit to how often you can explore a particular area of living, a limit to the number of stories you can develop effectively from a given situation.

“I don’t think we have reached that point with Pukemanu yet,’ said Douglas Drury, “but if we contemplated doing a third series there would have to be several changes.”

Producers of Pukemanu are Murray Reece, Tony Isaac and John Charles. Story editor is Michael Noonan.

Above: Tom Poata, Ernie Leonard; Pat Evison.

They're in business again in Pukemanu

By Jill McCraken from the NZ Listener, 11 Sept, 1972.

If you are writing to Pat Evison don't send the letter c/o Pukemanu General Store. The place doesn't exist. But the fact that some people did address their fan mail to the lady this way after the first series of Pukemanu reflects, in part, the effectiveness of the programme. It was a series New Zealanders could identify with. For many, Pukemanu became a real place and its inhabitants real people.

The format of the second series remains essentially the same. Each episode is complete in itself but there is also a serial element which gives it greater coherence. We see the same faces - Phyllis Telford (Pat Evison), Mark Gold (Peter Vere-Jones), Angus (Tom Poata), Tahu (Grant MacFarland), and Dr Rhyder (Ian Watkin), plus some new ones.

As far as the actors went, New Zealand's smallness provided problems. A writer remarked that if he wanted to kill someone off in Pukemanu he would not only put a freelance actor out of work for the rest of the series, but would almost certainly be removing an actor he knew well.

Pat Evison wasn't prepared for the impact of the first series of Pukemanu - butchers converged on her in the local shop, children stopped her in the street for autographs and peered at her from the back of school buses. Gleeful cries of There's the lady from Pukemanu greeted her from all over. Hundreds have approached her with the words, I know you, when she has never seen them in her life before.

People feel you've been in their drawing rooms and therefore must know you, she said. When she was parking her car rather badly one day, she remembers a passer-by commenting drily, It might do in Pukemanu but it won't do here.

Since the series she has found herself giving talks to the Lions and Rotary and to the Institutes of Engineers and Accountants. The whole time she has smiled happity and has learned to take it.

The writers, producers and script editors set out to create the series of six episodes as a team, with the writers doing their part as a cordinated effort. Ideas were fused in to a set of story lines or themes allocated to the writers who created an episode within the general Pukemanu framework.

I think we the fulfilled concept to some extent although we were under considerable pressure from the beginning to the undertaking. says Fiona Kidman, co-author of one episode.

Because of time factors and distance from each other we had, of necessity, to become more independent as the exercise progressed. However I think we have probably set up a good writing framework for future ventures where we are required to write to a formula.

Fiona has spent the past two and a half years as a full-time writer working mostly on radio and television scripts, but this is her first contribution to Pukemanu

People keep saying how difficult it is to write for television in New Zealand, she says. In terms of restrictions currently placed on scripts because of inadequate facilities and finance this is true, though not half as difficult as for the producer to interpret a good script in these conditions.

Other new writers for Pukemanu jance from each other we had, of are Roger Hall, Ian Mune (who played John Sitwell in Section 7) and Keith Aberdein. Hamish Keith and Michael Noonan are both contributing for a second time. The producers are Tony Isaac, John Charles, and Murray Reece. Executive producer is Douglas Drury. The first series of Pukemanu was a real breakthrough which is probably impossible to repeat, he says. On the other hand you can't estimate popularity ahead and this series is certainly better technically - more polished for onething, I think it's probably a better series.

Filming for Pukemanu began in April with the second episode, in which the people of the town go to the races. The Easter meeting at Tauherenikau, a tiny town in the Wairarapa, provided the background and Pat Evison's first attempt at wining money from a horses.

For her, it proved disastrous. My father was a Methodist minister, she explains. and he believed that gambling was evil. He brought me to believe one shouldn't get anything for nothing, But I felt I should try this thing, I ended up with $9 down and 5c up, which didn't seem a good exchange.

Apart from the race meeting, with Wairarapa has provided the scenery for much of the Pukemanu backdrop and has become something of a home away from home for cast and crew. The Ngatimu forest near Masterton is Pukemanu's forest; the Tinui office is Pukemanu's post office: Eketahuna's Bank of New Zealand, heavily disguised, has a starring role, and little Bideford provides the location for a spectacular motor-bike drop.

As long as the second series is as popular as the first it will have been worthwhile. In any case, as far as Pat Evison is concerned, Pukemanu has "arrived". She decided that when she was asked to autograph a page already highly decorated with names - those of the Lions rugby football team.

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