What Now is a New Zealand children's television programme that premiered on Saturday 9 May 1981. It is currently filmed before a live audience at a different school in New Zealand, which is selected every week.

What Now
Created byRex Simpson
Presented by
  • Erin Wells
  • Stella Maris
Opening themeWhat Now 2022
Country of originNew Zealand
ProducerWhitebait Productions
Camera setupMulti-Camera
Running time60 minutes
Original network
Picture formatPAL
Original release9 May 1981 (9 May 1981) –

The show airs every Sunday at 8.30 am on TVNZ 2 and has segments such as Tamariki Titans, DareDevil Levels and Hoover Hover. It has no adverts, due to the Broadcasting Act 1989 which states that no commercial advertising can be shown on New Zealand television between 6 am and noon on Sundays.


What Now (alternatively titled as What Now? or WN) was created in 1981 by TVNZ producer Rex Simpson before he left the state broadcaster in 1988 to set up a children's department for then upcoming new channel, TV3.[1]

The show was originally half an hour in duration and screened on Saturday mornings on TVNZ 1 between 10-10.30am. The original hosts in the first year were Steve Hooper along with four children, Merryn Pugh, Richard Hillock, Oliver Huggins and Lucy Briant (and Murdoch the dog). According to Rex Simpson at the time the "whole idea of the programme [was] to create healthy leisure attitudes"[2] and followed on from the template set by his previous children's show, How's That?, of introducing children to fun and educational activities (and which had been hosted by Stu Dennison the previous year in 1980). For the 1982 series of What Now new segments added to the format included illustrated comic book character Captain Leisure (drawn by artist Ashley Smith), comedic character Murray Slack (portrayed by comedian Jon Gadsby in 1981 and then by actor Tony Wahren in 1982) and a "New Games Competition" co-presented by Peter Williams and Yvonne Moore.[3]

In 1983 the programme format was revamped again and new solo presenter Steve Parr was brought in to anchor the show, with the timeslot shifting to 8.25-9.30am. While sitting behind a studio desk Steve Parr introduced segments covering morning keep-fit exercises, sketches involving recurring characters such as complaining old man Clive Grumble (portrayed by Jim Hopkins), simple recipes by Alison Holst, trivia from Frank Flash (Alasdair Kincaid), law and safety with Constable Keith and Sniff (a puppet police dog), nationwide talent quest "Starbound", and a serialised interactive detective series called "The Retrievers", interspersed with regular cartoons. The opening theme song used for the show from the mid 1980s to early 1990s was Get Out of Your Lazy Bed, by Matt Bianco.[4]

In 1984 the timeslot again changed from 8.30–10am, and then in July 1985 onwards increased to a whole two hours duration, screening from 8-10am. When Steve Parr left the show after two years as the main presenter the number of hosts also increased, usually to three, beginning with Danny Watson (from Spot On) joining in April 1985. Michelle Bracey, who had been part of show segments the year before in 1984, became a more prominent co-presenter and Frank Flash was given a central comedic manic role. When Michelle left the show, she was succeeded by Michèle A'Court in April 1987.

During the Steve Parr years onwards the show changed from being pre-recorded to live broadcast, and comedy sketches, interactive phone calls and competitions with the viewing audience, plus magazine-style segments going out and about, all became a more central part of the format. The style remained this way for many years, as hosts evolved and were replaced, until today where the format now involves live audiences of crowds of children, but still is closely faithful with the core concept established early on.[5]

In November of 1989 the show moved channels to TVNZ 2 and then in 1996 began screening on Sunday mornings. An after school version of What Now, What Now PM, also ran on TVNZ 2 during the week, between 1997 and 2002.

The weekdays version of What Now became its own separate show known as WNTV. First hosted by Carolyn Taylor and a face in a computer screen played by Mikey Carpenter. Later the show changed dramatically, but kept the same WNTV name. It became a drama showing behind the scenes of a children's afternoon magazine show. This was hosted by Antonia Prebble and Tom Hern, and featured several other characters. Anna Allbury and Jo Tuapawa featured as reporters.[citation needed]

The What Now show was moved to TVNZ's Avalon studios in Lower Hutt in 1999 until TVNZ shut down its Children's Department at the end of 2003. What Now the show was then brought back to Christchurch in 2004 to be produced by an independent company Whitebait Productions, headed by Janine Morrell-Gunn and Jason Gunn. What Now has been funded by NZ On Air since NZOA's inception in 1989; prior to that it was funded by TVNZ.

In 2004 the afternoon show WNTV was cancelled and replaced with the old children's afternoon TV show Studio 2 produced by Ian Taylor and Taylormade Productions. Although Taylormade was based in Dunedin, Studio 2 was produced live to air at TVNZ's Auckland studios.

Various programme partnerships over the years have seen What Now promoting 'healthy eating healthy action', water safety and old-fashioned letter writing amongst many other things. What Now has a long-standing association with the Weet-Bix Kiwi Kids Tryathlon, and with Sport and Recreation New Zealand whose 'Push Play' message encourages children to be physically active.

Early What Now presenters were also credited as writers. They were people like Michele A'Court, Danny Watson, Al Kincaid, Michelle Bracey, Simon Barnett and Catherine McPherson, some of whom have gone on to roles as directors and writers. A more recent presenter who made a significant behind-the-scenes contribution was Anthony Samuels, who also trained as a director.[citation needed]

Off-screen personnel who have shaped What Now over the years are many. They include camera operator and director Alan Henderson (also the brains behind Jason Gunn's sidekick Thingee), Directors Keith Tyler-Smith, Bill de Friez, Peter Verstappen, Mike Rehu, Brian Wickstead, Mark Owers, Mike Ritchie, Jason Gunn and Richard Hansen. Producers include Richard Driver, Mike Rehu, Tony Palmer, Anne Williams, Emma Martini(Gribble), Reuben Davidson, Jo Eade, Adam Percival and Executive Producer Janine Morrell-Gunn.

Current presentersEdit

Host Role Duration
Erin Wells Studio host 2018–present
Stella Maris Studio host 2020–present[6]

Previous hosts and segment presentersEdit

  • Steve Parr 1983–1984
  • Steve Hooper 1981 (along with intermediate school-aged children Merryn, Richard, Oliver and Lucy)
  • Peter Williams and Yvonne Moore 1982 (just for the New Games Competition segment)
  • Jim Hopkins 1983–1987 (as Clive Grumble character)
  • Alasdair Kincaid (as Frank Flash character) 1983–1988 and then returned as The Answer Guy in the 1990s
  • Michelle Bracey 1983–1987 (various segments and then as one of the main presenters)
  • Eddie Sunderland 1984–1992 (arts and crafts segments)
  • Danny Watson 1985–1987
  • Michele A'Court 1987–1988
  • Fifi Colston 1987–1993 (arts and crafts segments)
  • Steven Zanoski 1988
  • Catherine McPherson 1988–1992
  • Simon Barnett 1988–1992
  • Carlos Miller 1989–1990 (for the "Let's Cook" cooking segment)
  • Thingee 1989–1997 (puppet who also co-hosted The Son of a Gunn Show and Chatterbox)
  • Jason Gunn reoccurring guest/presenter since the early 1990s (and also creative writer and producer from the 2000s onwards)
  • Aaron Devitt 1993–1994
  • Darren Young 1994
  • Fiona Anderson 1994–1997
  • Stacey Morrison (Daniels) 1995–1997 (in a cooking segment)
  • Steve Joll 1996–1998
  • Mike Carpenter (as the character Props Boy) 1996–2000
  • Anthony Samuels 1995–2003
  • Jason Fa'afoi 1997–2004
  • Shavaughn Ruakere 1997–2001
  • Carolyn Taylor 1999–2004, 2005–2006 and on WNTV (2008)
  • Tāmati Coffey 2004–2007
  • DJ Vinyl Richie (Richie Mills) 2004–2007
  • Vicki Lin 2005
  • Charlie Panapa 2005–2011
  • Virginie Le Brun 2005–2006
  • Serena Cooper-Rongonui 2006–4 July 2010
  • Camilla the Gorilla 2006–2013
  • Tumehe Rongonui 2007–2010 (Roving Reporter/Slam Host)
  • Red the Mailbot 2008–2012
  • Gemma (Gem) Knight 2010–2015
  • Johnson Raela 2011–2012
  • Adam Percival 2011–2015 (He was a host in The 4:30 Show that was replaced by The Adam and Eve Show before he left. He later returned to What Now as a Content Producer in 2020 and will be a Creative Producer in 2021.)
  • Ronnie Taulafo 2011–2018
  • Bianca Seinafo 2015–2016
  • Chris Kirk 2015–2020
  • Evander Brown 2019
  • Joseph Coughlan 2021
  • Luke Tumaru (Funge HQ Presenter)

Regular segments (past and present)Edit

  • Serial Stuff - Serial comedy/drama, with outdoor scenes realised in Chuckimation style. Late 1990s - early 2000s (Redone in 2021)
  • Celebrity Traffic Island - Satirical take-off of Celebrity Treasure Island. Written by Andy Gunn - Jason Gunn's brother.
  • Pie-in-Yer-Ear House - Satirical take-off of Pioneer House. Also written by Andy Gunn.
  • Game Zone
  • The One
  • SLAM!
  • Toilet Humour - The first locally produced lip-sync CGI animated series.
  • Foul's Kitchen
  • Stars in Disguise
  • Balls of Fortune
  • Splat Cave
  • Live in Your Living Room
  • Fairytales Got Talent
  • LOL
  • Wobblies - Satirical take-off of children's music group The Wiggles.
  • Phone and Away - Based on Home and Away.
  • Tamariki Titans
  • Emoji Dojo
  • Up Nose and Personal
  • Doodlezone
  • Birthdays
  • Show Us Your Room
  • WN Wild Ride
  • What Now Vivor - Based on Survivor (TV series)
  • Kidtubers
  • Mysteryville
  • Hoover Hover
  • DareDevil Levels
  • Win A Wish
  • Smoothie of the Week
  • Animal Antics
  • How Will It Travel?
  • Best Town Ever
  • Target Your Teacher
  • The Gunge Runner
  • Ice Ice Bobbing


Throughout the years, What Now has maintained the use of gunge and foam. Children, celebrities, parents and sometimes the presenters are often the subject of embarrassment in various gunge games. Examples include Happy Feet, Gunge Matters, Target your Teacher and Tug of War and general gunging.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Screen, NZ On. "Rex Simpson | NZ On Screen". www.nzonscreen.com. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  2. ^ "Child's Play", NZ Listener, 9 May 1981 issue p18
  3. ^ "Battle Against Boredom", Pamela Stirling, NZ Listener, 8 May 1982 issue p25
  4. ^ "What Now? Christmas Special 1991". Video. NZ On Screen. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  5. ^ 'Saturday Morning Fever', Graham Ford, NZ Listener, 26 November 1983 issue p14
  6. ^ James, Shauni (20 March 2020). "Rotorua's Stella Maris to help brighten children's weekends on What Now". Rotorua Daily Post.

External linksEdit