Goodnight Kiwi (partially found New Zealand TV animated sequences; 1975-1980)

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A frame from the start of the 1975 version of the Goodnight Kiwi sign-off. Here, the Kiwi is sitting in his directors' chair.

Status: Found (1975 version)

Incomplete (1976-1980 version)

Date found: September 14th, 2016 (1975 version)

Found by: TVNZ

During the 1980s and 1990s, New Zealand television stations One and TV2 would sign off every night with a cartoon of a kiwi (New Zealand's national bird) signing off a TV station, turning off his console, exiting the studio and going to sleep in the television station's satellite dish. However, the sign off's history goes further back to the mid-1970s, before One and TV2 would become a part of TVNZ. Sometime around 1975, TV2 management had noticed that Australian TV station ATN-7 had been signing off with a cartoon of a kangaroo putting her baby to bed every night. Amazed at the uniqueness of the sign-off, management decided to hire then 53-year-old Sam Harvey, a former Disney animator, to animate a cartoon of a kiwi doing something similar to its Australian counterpart.


The initial version of the Goodnight Kiwi premiered on TV2 sometime in 1975. In this version, the kiwi was a director. Instead of going to sleep in a satellite dish, the kiwi gets out of his chair, races his cat to a power switch, cuts the power to the studio, exits the studio, and pulls down a shade over the exit door's window that states "Goodnight from TV2". Until it was publicly released in September 2016, it was unknown what happened after Kiwi cut the power to the studio.

When TV2 changed to South Pacific Television in 1976, a new version of the Goodnight Kiwi cartoon was animated. This time, the kiwi was far smaller, and the cat was nowhere to be seen. In this version, the kiwi dusts his television camera, then proceeds to go inside the camera, set his alarm clock, and go to sleep in it. This version was used on South Pacific Television all the way up to 1980.


In February 1980, South Pacific Television would once again revert to TV2, which meant the cartoon had to be updated once again. However, unlike the previous two versions, One would also pick up the cartoon to be used for their sign-off. This is the most well-known version of the cartoon and is available on YouTube. Many VHS recordings of the sign-off have been uploaded to YouTube, and TVNZ themselves have uploaded a copy to their On Demand service.

However, the other two versions of this sign-off were not as fortunate. No full versions of either of these versions were made available for several decades. Clips of the initial TV2 version of the sign-off appeared in an October 1994 episode of news show Holmes, as well as the 2009 C4 special, Rocked the Nation 2: Top 100 Pop Culture Stories. Clips of the South Pacific Television version of the sign-off also appeared in said Holmes episode.

A black-and-white photograph that was taken in front of a television set during a broadcast of the South Pacific Television version of the Goodnight Kiwi on the night of October 17th, 1978.

For many decades, the likeliness of a fan-recording of the first version of the Goodnight Kiwi was less than likely, as VHS and Betamax would not be released until the late-1970s, and the U-Matic was a rather costly recorder that the average joe couldn't afford. However, a black and white photograph taken from a television set of a 1978 airing of the South Pacific Television version of the cartoon has surfaced online, and the Television New Zealand Archive at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision lists that they have a 16 mm copy of the sign-off. As of August 2016, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision also holds a 16 mm copy of the original 1975 TV2 sign off as well.


In early-August 2015, Lost Media Wiki user bun39 filed a public request form for a copy of the South Pacific Television version of the sign-off. Several days later, he received an email from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision stating that they were not authorized to make any copies or publicly release their copy in any way due to the fact that TVNZ still holds the copyright for the sign-off. In late-August 2016, bun39 sent another request to Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision about receiving copies of the Kiwi. Several days later, Ngā Taonga responded with details on how to contact TVNZ to license and acquire archival footage.

On September 14th, 2016, to his surprise, TVNZ gave bun39 a copy of the original 1975 version of the Goodnight Kiwi. From September 14th until October 6th of 2016, bun39's copy was available to view on his 20thCenturyPictures YouTube channel. However, on October 6th, TVNZ had the video removed after a copyright complaint was filed. In response to the takedown, bun39 complained to TVNZ, claiming that taking down his upload was unfair, and restricted the public's ability to view such a rarity. TVNZ's legal department responded demanding that bun39 keep the video off of YouTube and that "should [he] make any further clips available we reserve our rights to take whatever action we consider appropriate to protect our commercial and intellectual property rights." A re-upload of bun39's copy, albeit encoded by a user named Madoka-chan and uploaded by Tom_Servo, appeared on Vimeo shortly after the YouTube version was removed, although that too was removed several days later. Currently, a copy of the 1975 version is available at the Internet Archive. From September 2016 to April 2017, TVNZ themselves made available a copy of the 1975 Goodnight Kiwi on their Footage Licensing Ideas website.

For a brief while, TVNZ searched their archives for the 1976 version of the Goodnight Kiwi. A representative of TVNZ, Saffron Solley, explained to bun39 that she knew "all the relevant details and what he looks like, I just have to find the right listing in [the] collection." She also claimed that once the relevant footage was acquired, TVNZ would make sure that they would "make sure ... [he is] available for online viewing". However, in April 2017, TVNZ quietly discontinued their Footage Licensing Ideas website, deleting their copy of the 1975 Goodnight Kiwi in the process. Considering the fact that VHS and Betamax were both available in New Zealand in the late-1970s, it is possible that a recording of the 1976 version exists somewhere, but until a copy is made available, said version can only be considered partially found.


Behind the scenes of Goodnight Kiwi (starts at 0:27).