Goodnight Kiwi (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 director's chair.

Status: Found

Date found: 14 Sept 2016 (1975 version)
04 Nov 2019 (1976-1980 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 history of the sign-off 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 Goodnight Kiwi would become a national icon of New Zealand, being used nightly in their government-run TV network's sign-offs from June 1975 until the last station went fully 24/7 in October 1994.[1]


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.[2]

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 up to 1980.[3]

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.[4]

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 the 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.[5]


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, one of New Zealand's largest media archives, lists that they have digital copies of all three versions of the Goodnight Kiwi.


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