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Shirley Maddock, ONZM
When television arrived in Aotearoa in 1960, there was no real infrastructure for the new medium. Fortunately, the innovative Shirley Maddock stepped in. At the time a scriptwriter, announcer and researcher with Radio New Zealand, Maddock had some television experience and soon became our first television news writer, our first television interviewer and then, our first woman producer.
It wasn’t until 1965 however, with a documentary called A Capital Move, that Maddock was allowed to use the credit title “Producer”. Until then the role of Producer was considered a male domain and even though she was already actively producing, she had to make do with the credit line “devised, written and arranged by”.
For Maddock, television was an opportunity to reflect New Zealand and to show us who we are. She realised early on that people love to see the places and the people they know. To that end she produced groundbreaking historical documentary series such as Islands of the Gulf (1964) and The Tall Trees and the Gold (1966). Maddock’s interest in New Zealand history wasn’t limited to television, she also produced a number of books and in 1999 received a New Zealand Order of Merit for services to radio and television broadcasting and New Zealand historical literature.
In 2018 Shirley Maddock’s daughter, Elisabeth Easther remade Islands of the Gulf – in an interview at that time she remarked, “There was no other woman doing what she did. She didn't need a role model, she became one".
In this excerpt from a Sounds Historical radio documentary by Jim Sullivan, Shirley Maddock talks about recording and safeguarding New Zealand stories and about gaining the Producer title.
Find out more about Shirley Maddock:
Read this blog about The Uncertain Season, a programme made by Shirley Maddock.
Read about The remaking of Islands of the Gulf.
Image: Screengrab from Islands of the Gulf, courtesy TVNZ.
Catalogue Reference 11505
Interviewer: Jim Sullivan, Sounds Historical, RNZ National