Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Goodnight, Kiwi

The animator of “Goodnight Kiwi”, Sam Harvey, has died at the age of 91. The clip above is the version that was on TV2 from 1989 to 1995, and is probably the best-known version of it. The music is an instrumental of the Māori lullaby, "Hine e Hine", composed by Fannie Rose Howie (1868-1916, also known by her stage name, Te Rangi Pai) in 1905 and arranged by Bernie Allen.

Goodnight Kiwi had a few different versions, but this one signalled the end of the broadcast day on TV2 (called “Channel 2” at the time), before 24-hour broadcasting on the channel started in 1994. This means that I didn’t see the clip when it was in use, and mostly only heard people talk about it. It popped up on nostalgia TV shows in the pre-YouTube days, and I finally saw it. I always thought it was kind of sweet.

However, there’s a conundrum that NZ On Screen mentions (and their copy of the video is better, though not embeddable):
“For a generation of kids Goodnight Kiwi became a much-loved symbol of staying up well past your bedtime. Viewers never questioned why our nocturnal national icon was going to bed at night, or sharing a bed with a cat.” [emphasis added]
I’ll admit, I did kind of wonder about that, but I was in my late 30s the first time I saw it. In any case, Goodnight Kiwi became part of New Zealanders’ contemporary shared memory, and is definitely Kiwiana. To learn about modern New Zealand, this is the kind of thing that is good to know about.

And I even slipped in a little NZ Music Month history, too…

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