The Goodnight Kiwi is an animated short which has been used to signal the end of nightly broadcasts on Television New Zealand channels. The Goodnight Kiwi features two characters: the eponymous Goodnight Kiwi (later also called TV Kiwi), and his companion, simply known as The Cat. The animation was introduced in 1975 on TV2, and used on South Pacific Television between 1976 and 1980. Between 1980 and 19 October 1994, the animation was screened again on TV2. This animation returned on 6 September 2007 for use on TVNZ 6 when the channel ends transmission at midnight. TVNZ U also used the Goodnight Kiwi at midnight before overnight service.
The short was animated by Sam Harvey (1922–2014), with music arrangement by Bernie Allen and sound by Gary Potts.
Plot and overview
Three different clips have been used through time:
The first version of the clip was used when TV2 first signed on in 1975. In this version, the Kiwi was a director. The cartoon began with the Kiwi yawning in the director's chair. Kiwi wakes up the cat, and the two race each other down a series of cameras and other broadcasting equipment. The Kiwi then goes outside, cuts the power and turns on the lights from inside. Then the Kiwi put the milk bottle and the cat outside, but without it knowing the cat goes inside again while Kiwi is waving to the audience. No full copy of this version has been made publicly available since TV2 changed to South Pacific Television in 1976, however clips of this version appeared in a 1994 Holmes news story.
The second version of the Goodnight Kiwi clip was used by South Pacific Television somewhere between 1976 and 1980 and saw the Goodnight Kiwi and his companion living in a television camera. At the end of the clip, the kiwi would close the side flaps on the camera and then the South Pacific Television logo (reading "GOOD NIGHT FROM SOUTH PACIFIC TELEVISION") would appear as the music faded out. During transmission breakdowns, a still picture of the Goodnight Kiwi was often used, in poses including one of sweeping the floor and accidentally pulling out a power cord.
The third and most famous iteration appeared in 1980, and aired on both channels. The one-minute-long animation begins with Goodnight Kiwi and the Cat in the master control room. Kiwi shuts down the screens, and starts an audio cassette playing an instrumental arrangement of the traditional Māori lullaby, Hine e Hine. Kiwi walks through the studio while Cat jumps and pulls faces into a camera. Kiwi turns out the lights, puts a milk bottle on the porch and locks the door, while the cat heads upstairs to the studio roof. The Kiwi follows and rides an elevator (presumably just after it had been used by the cat) to the top of a transmission mast. At the top, Kiwi covers himself in blankets (in which the cat was already curled up) and goes to sleep in a satellite dish with the Cat sitting on his stomach. The short closes with the words: "Goodnight from TELEVISION NEW ZEALAND".
There was a slight variation of the ending - from 1989 onwards, the Goodnight Kiwi was only seen on Channel 2 (TV1 adopted its own closedown sequence, featuring the National Anthem) and ended with a voiceover stating "it's goodnight from Channel 2" and displaying the Channel 2 logo. The Goodnight Kiwi clip used from 1980 to 1994 was revived in 2007 and used to end programming on TVNZ 6, the clip ended with a lower third caption stating Goodnight from TVNZ 6. The aspect ratio used for the TVNZ 6 version was modified to suit a 16:9 display with the top and bottom of the clip cropped. Said video was also used by TVNZ 7 once it ceased transmission in 2012, with a similar caption, this time reading "Goodbye from TVNZ 7", followed by a "Good night from TVNZ 7" ident afterwards.
In popular culture
- TVNZ referred to the Goodnight Kiwi character as TV Kiwi in its official merchandise. TVNZ produced a variety of Goodnight Kiwi memorabilia in the 1980s, including the magazine TV Kiwi and a book of short stories, TV Kiwi and the Cat.
- TVNZ children's presenter Olly Ohlson used the name TV Kiwi for the character and occasionally performed a song 'The T. V. K. I. W. I.' on his afternoon show After School.
- Clips from, and references to, the Goodnight Kiwi occasionally appear in locally produced television, including an advertisement for the Retirement Commission's website Sorted.org.nz, in which a list of New Zealand's favourite logos appear in a group therapy session.
- In 2004, composer Victoria Kelly wrote a solo piano piece inspired by this animation for Stephen de Pledge's set of 12 Landscape Preludes.
- The Goodnight Kiwi was referenced in episode 3 of season 3 of Outrageous Fortune ("Most true, she is a strumpet").
- A few seconds of the Goodnight Kiwi appear on a TV screen in the New Zealand film Boy. It is however the wrong version for the film's period, closing with a "Goodnight from 2" caption which, in 1984, wasn't due to be seen for at least another five years.
- The Goodnight Kiwi featured in a set of postage stamps entitled "A to Z of New Zealand", issued in 2008 by New Zealand Post to commemorate New Zealand's cultural heritage.
- Before SKY debuted its Tui TV Wednesday night lineup on SKY 1, the station produced a parody of the Goodnight Kiwi; using footage from a TVNZ special in 2000, the Kiwi is knocked out after turning out the lights and a tui turns all the equipment back on and watches a collage of SKY's Tui TV lineup with a beer in one wing. It is not known if SKY got permission to use the original footage. The sequence goes like this:
- Beginning is normal.
- When the Kiwi reaches the door, two eyes come out.
- It hits a bottle on the kiwi and the kiwi is knocked out.
- The Tui puts its wing finger inside the camera revealing a real finger in the camera.
- When the Tui arrives at the screens, the screens are covered with test cards.
- The Tui flips two switches and the screens show the collage.
- Eating Media Lunch also parodied the Goodnight Kiwi - the clip plays as normal (save for the kiwi mooning the camera and throwing the cat out of the nest), but instead of the kiwi sleeping, it shoots some New Zealand icons with a sniper rifle from the satellite dish.
Return of the Kiwi
Eric Kearley, head of the TVNZ Digital Channel Launch team stated in a messageboard response that the Goodnight Kiwi would return to TV on Freeview on TVNZ 6 which began broadcasting on 6 September 2007 - a move which proved popular with New Zealand television viewers. New Christmas animations featuring the Kiwi and Cat characters were introduced by TV One on 1 December 2008.
It was also the final clip played on TVNZ 7, with the message "Goodbye from TVNZ 7", before the station was shut down at midnight on 30 June 2012, and converted to TV One Plus 1, a 1-hour delayed broadcast of TV One, despite protests from Save TVNZ 7.
- "Goodnight Kiwi". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- "A to Z of New Zealand in stamps". One News. 5 August 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- "Goodnight Kiwi (1976-94, 2007-)". Kiwi TV. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
- Williamson, Lyn (1984). TV Kiwi and the Cat. Madeline Beasley (illustrator). Auckland: TVNZ Enterprises. ISBN 0908690053.
- "A to Z of New Zealand". New Zealand Post. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
- on YouTube
- TV fans applaud Goodnight Kiwi's return (+video) at Stuff.co.nz