50 iconic looks from 50 years of TVNZ network news

As TVNZ celebrate 50 years of network news this week, Alex Casey celebrates 50 of the most iconic looks that otherwise might be left forgotten. 

This week, as TVNZ celebrates 50 years of network news, there will be much time devoted to the stories that stopped the nation. Plumes of smoke billowing out of Mt Ruapehu. Dame Whina Kupa on an unsealed road. John Walker running very fast. These are the images that united us, the ones etched in our collective memory forever. 

But I’m not going to talk about any of that. I want to talk about the funny newsroom looks. I’m talking weird desk setups, I’m talking shoulder pads for the gods, I’m talking a walk-in wardrobe of novelty ties. In an attempt to preserve the art of News Fashion, I watched every available clip on Youtube (big shout out to Dan News) and have assembled this list.

50) The scorched Earth: who wore it better? 

Okay, so this is not an outfit per se. But in a way, isn’t the Earth just a giant, shared shoe for all of us? These weather maps were made just three decades apart – a very bad look everyone!!!!!!!!! 

49) (Sherlock) Holmes trench

Yes it was a big deal for Paul Holmes to go and interview Margaret Thatcher in 1993. But look me in the eye and tell me that’s not the same trench that three raccoons wear when they stack themselves on top of each other and pretend to read a newspaper on the train.

48) Jim Hickey, 80s car salesman

Sorry Matilda’s dad in Matilda

47) Baby Prince William eating a buzzy bee in 1983

It’s a metaphor for colonisation. 

46) This Kate Hawkesby ensemble

Look, it was a different time. 

45) Cray Hickey

Very “Lady Gaga”. 

44) This bad logo 1985-1994

Big insurance energy

43) Mutch to talk about

You gotta watch this clip where Jessica Mutch leaves her colleague Nadine Higgins hanging during a live cross in 2013. Mutch’s steely gaze, glam location and immaculate makeup feels straight off a Killing Eve mood board. 

42) Another weird logo

Anyone else see a swan making out with a star making out with a swan making out with a star? I gotta stop watching The Human Centipede.

41) Forecast looks blue

I have a blue house with a blue window /
Blue is the colour of all that I wear /
Blue are the streets and all the trees are too /
I’ll do the weather, as long as it’s blue

40) Unlucky Brendan Horan

Tfw you get belted with bird shit during high winds in the mid-2000s. 

39) Jesus walks

Melissa Stokes LOOK OUT HE’S BEHIND YOOOOU

38) Big suit

The truth is out there. 

37) These burn book graphics from 1971

Extremely brutal and shady of way of showing that Taiwan was out of the UN.

36) Peter Williams gets Punk*d

Every newsreader knows that the perfect fashion accessory is a man doing a rambunctious jig.  

35) Holmes vs. Thatcher title card, 1993

Why is this my primary school science fair presentation?

34) Putting the ew in news. 

Okay so this was the late news but still, how funny to sit next to a huge sign that says “EW NEWS.” Chuck it on me tombstone. 

33) Dougal Stevenson avoiding my gaze

In 1971, Dougal Stevenson was doing a LOT of reading from endless pieces of paper, flitting his eyes up only every 10 seconds or so. Very relatable delivery and was “don’t look at me” over 30 years before Damien in Mean Girls said “don’t look at me.”

Also: don’t look at me. 

32) Mafioso Sam Wallace 

Sorry Alfredo Pacino

31) Wendy in the trenches

#SaveWendy

30) I am D’Batman

This is clearly a subliminal message for vigilante justice. Change my mind. 

29) Hickey’s bacon tie

I would like to eat that tie very much.

28) Lads

The boys are on (the TV) 

27) This lady in the control room

The year is 1971 and The Matrix is real. 

26) Bowden at the Oscars

If there’s anything better than man in a tux, it’s a man in a tux having an absolute bloody mare on his telephone during a live cross

25) Dallow in space, 2019

Dalloooww frroooom the ooooooother siiiiiiiiiiide

24)  Aquaman Bailey blazer

At first it’s just a good blazer, but at the end of this 90s broadcast Bailey reveals that the SLEEVES HAVE WEIRD BLACK GILLS UNDERNEATH. Deep sea chic. 

23) Cyber thing

“The ultimate bargaining tool, a gadget that compares shop prices on the internet.” 

22) Jimbo Polo

I’m lovin’ cloud nine [weather], my head’s in the sky [thinking about the weather] /
I’m solo, I’m wearin’ polo /
I’m wearin’ polo, I’m wearin’ solo polo

21) Santa Dan

You’ve heard of Santa, but have you met his enthusiastic cousin Dan-ta? “You know where he’s coming first,” Dan Corbett frothed in 2015. “To New Zealand. He’s coming here, we’ve got the air of high pressure, he’s going to zoom his way in, he’s going to visit all the spots.” 

20) Bill Ralston in pastels

Is the suit pink and white or mint and grey? 

19) Classic Simon and Ali 

Mom and Dad. 

18) Classic Richard and Judy

Also Mom and Dad. 

17) Hickey ghost sunnies

This clip celebrates Jim Hickey’s mime artistry, surely inspired by Tom Bradley’s many ties with many eyes. If you thought that was surreal, then how about this closing advice – “buy a tourist a pizza.” Indeed. 

16) Angela D’Audney street style

Imagine looking this glam and composed as you get out of your cool TVNZ car to go to your first TVNZ news broadcast in 1973????? 

15) Wendy Petrie’s fist pump look

Purple blazer, OJ black glove – Judd Nelson is smiling. 

14) Red alert

The Sunmaid Raisin Lady could never. 

13) This moving eclipse

Look, I’ve read two more essays about haiku this week than I’ve ever read in my life, and D’Audney’s headline read here felt poetic – “the moon does a slow waltz across the sun”

12) Black and yellow black and yellow

“You can call me Queen B”

11) Jim Hickey demonstrates how much 16mm is 

At first I was going to talk about the luxe mustard and purple tapestry tie, but then Hickey did this. “16 mm over four days – how much is that?” he turns and throws his arms out like weather Jesus, revealing a satanic spine of masking tape. “That much.” 

10) Jandals May Coffin

You may remember the controversy following a truly hectic letter published in the TV Guide, where pregnant Jenny May Coffin was labelled an “eyesore” by a confused grump in Lower Hutt. But even more memorable was her final broadcast, done in jandals. “The day I had to wear jandals on air was the day I was going to stand down – so today is that day.” 

9) Tom Bradley’s 1994 sunnies tie

Now that’s what I call… fifty shades

8) The original Hot Priest

Holy. 

7) Dan Corbett’s fingers

Salad Fingers walked so Dan Corbett could run. Don’t @ me.

6) Grahame Thorne’s perm

It was as true in 1983 as it is now: Get. A. Perm. From NZ On Screen: “Thorne’s hottest 15 minutes came after he dared to present the sports news one day in 1983… with a perm. The ensuing national trauma inspired headlines, irate phonecalls, and ‘curls are for girls’ banners at rugby games. Sadly the perm’s freshest incarnation is lost to the archives, and this slightly grown-out version is the only extant evidence of a key moment in Kiwi fashion history.”

5) Customs sport blazer

Rare. If someone would like to donate one of these to The Real Pod museum, please get in touch. 

4) Legolas Coffey

Weather tomorrow? A red sun rises… blood has been spilled on this night

3) Tina Carline, 1980s legend

Obsessed with every part of this relaxed weather look. The silver eyeshadow. The delicate necklace. The pastel pink t-shirt that seems like staff uniform from a day spa. And if that wasn’t enough, how good is the pass agg East Coast forecast that seems like it’s fighting with itself. “Fine?” “Fine.” 

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2) Richard Long’s moustache

Mo mo, less problems. But still not as good as the number one news look…

1) D’Audney? More like D’Greatest

End of list. 


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