Find out more about this item:
Message us

Rights Information

Just out of Huntly, traffic passes by Taupiri Mountain as Cherie James quietly tidies her father Billy T James’ grave. On reflection it has been 5 years since his passing and she feels he still hasn’t been laid to rest. Cherie hopes to do just that with this documentary.
William Taitoko (Billy T) James: Born in Cambridge on 17 January 1948 - Died 7 August 1991.
His death caused a major feud between his immediate family and those of the Tainui people. Cherie knew of her father’s wish to be buried next to his mother (Ruby Taitoko) on Taupiri mountain. That reason alone was enough for her to allow his people to take his body home to the marae. A memorial Service was later held in Auckland.
New Zealand television and news media had a field day with all the controversy over that incident and segments of those television broadcasts are included in this documentary.
04:44 (B&W) His birth parents were Sally and Jimmy Smith who worked at the Karapiro Dam.
005:09 Still shot of Billy and his adopted father Bill Taitoko - his adopted mother was Ruby Taitoko.
005:27 Bill Burns, a good friend of the Taitoko’s, reflects on when Billy arrived into the Taitoko family - his mother and father later called him Te Wehi.
007:45 Ngaire Anderson and Noho Taitoko (Billy’s sister and cousin) return to the family home with Cherie to reminisce about the days growing up there as children.
Billy was 11 years old when the family moved north to Whangarei and it was during his days at Whangarei High School that he formed a band out of school.
010:24 Carlton Smith speaks about those times and the antics Billy got up to with his friends. At 16 he moved to Auckland to become a songwriter. He lived at the Epsom Maori Boys Hostel.
013:03 Bob Joyce was Billy’s roommate at the United Maori Mission Hostel: He recalls the day Billy arrived and how after his family left he picked up his guitar and began playing while looking out the window. Bob felt that this was Billy’s way of dealing with homesickness. Vic Richards, Eddie Hemara, Mary Nathan also reflect on their times with Billy.
020:01 In 1973, Billy returned to Auckland as a professional musician and later married Lynn Mathews, the sister of Cherie’s mother. Cherie attended the wedding as a baby.
020:49 Billy travelled the world for three years as a member of the Maori Volcanics. Bill Peters and Mahora Peters speak of Billy’s versatility as an entertainer.
024:31 Allan Wade was Billy’s musical director and bass guitarist for 5 years,
026:26 Tom Parkinson - Television Producer: 1978 - Radio Times. 1981 - Billy T James Show ran for 6 series and this made him famous as an entertainer but the strain of being so popular took a toll on his health and well-being. Living on the farm at Muriwai was a haven for Billy to escape from the stress of work and to take time out to relax.
031:09 Peter Rowley: Reflects on how everyday social events and happenings in society were written into their scripts as light hearted jokes. This upset a number of people but the majority loved the show.
034:18 Came a Hot Friday - 1985: Billy’s character ‘The Tainui’ Kid stole the show.
034:33 Ian Mune - Director Came a Hot Friday: Claims that every thing he did was a version of Billy, all his characters lived in Billy. People loved him because every character he played was true to his heart and as a performer this is what people recognised......Billy had a quality that was very rare.
035:56 In 1988 Billy had his first heart attack and another within 6 months. The bypass didn’t work and his only hope was a transplant.
036:48 Dr Trevor Agnew: Reflects on Billy’s time in Greenlane hospital leading up to the transplant when he could be just himself. The transplant was a success and soon he was back working for a Sitcom for TV 3. Although his recovery was remarkable it was not to be for long. Billy died on the 7 August 1991.

Favourite item:

Request information

Year 1997

Reference number F29347

Collection Film and Video Collection

Media type Moving Image


Place of Production NEW ZEALAND/AOTEAROA

Genre Television

Duration 0:43:30

Production company George Andrews Productions

Viewing locations Digital file available to view at medialibrary, Wellington

Credits Told: Cherie James
Photography: Paul Richards
Photography: Nic Finlayson
Sound: Terry King
Sound: Dick Reade
Production Manager: Sarah Metcalfe
Series Liaison: Kathy Sunderland
Executive Producer: Geoff Steven
Editor: Tim Woodhouse
Director: Alan D’Arcy Erson
Producer: George Andrews
We Gratefully Acknowledge: Ngaire Anderson
We Gratefully Acknowledge: Jeff Bennet
We Gratefully Acknowledge: He Taonga Films
We Gratefully Acknowledge: Mary Nathan
We Gratefully Acknowledge: Tom Parkinson
We Gratefully Acknowledge: Allan Wade
We Gratefully Acknowledge: Dean Ruscoe
Archive: Tv 3 Archive
Archive: Nz Television Archive
Archive: Larry Parr
Archive: Isambard Productions

We use cookies to help us understand how you use our site, and make your experience better. To find out more read our privacy policy.

Whakamahia ai mātou ngā pihikete ki te rapu māramatanga ki te āhua o tō whakamahi i tēnei paetukutuku, ki te whakapai hoki i tō whai wāhi mai. Ki te rapu kōrero anō pānuitia te kaupapahere tūmataiti.