The 200kg Kid documentary

25 07 2008

At almost 200kg, 15-year-old Haumoana Kopua is believed to be New Zealand’s heaviest teenager. He is already showing early signs of serious diseases, but his family have embarked on countless failed diet and exercise regimes and they feel as though they are out of options. Could surgery be the answer? Inside New Zealand: The 200kg Kid finds out on Thursday, August 7th at 9:30pm on 3.

At 14-years-old, Haumoana hit 190kg. Now too big to exercise, he is unable to bend over to pick up a ball, and even walking is difficult. His family fear he could be bedridden within a decade and Haumoana’s, surgeon Dr. Rob Fris believes “medical intervention is his only chance at a normal life.”

Gastric banding has never been performed on someone as young as Haumoana in New Zealand. He could lose up to 100kg and be half his size, but only if he’s prepared to make big changes.

Only five teenagers in the last five years have been funded for obesity surgery by the Ministry of Health due to very limited public funding. However Haumoana’s family need to raise $15,000 for the operation to happen privately otherwise he could be on the waiting list for years.

Surgery for the morbidly obese is considered an extreme intervention by the MoH, but Dr Fris believes that in the long run they save the system money. Obesity related costs to the health system are between $450 million and $500 million per year, making the cost of an operation seem comparatively small. As Dr Fris advocates, “It’s not a cosmetic operation. It’s an operation to save lives.”

Inside New Zealand: The 200kg Kid learns the fate of Haumoana on Thursday, August 7th at 9:30pm on 3.


Documentary follows dwarf in his aim to find love

22 07 2008

Inside New Zealand: A Little Love Story, screening Thursday, July 31st at 9:30pm on TV3, is the unique New Zealand story of Matthew, a dwarf from Auckland who travels to the USA with the aim to find true love at the worlds’ largest gathering of Little People.

At 4 foot 5, Matthew is at the top end of dwarfism with the most common form of dwarfism, Acondraplasia. He has no distinguishing facial features and is fit and strong. He’s a typical kiwi guy who enjoys sport, going to pubs, dancing and hanging out with his friends, both average size and little.

Travelling to America in search of that special someone was something Matthew didn’t take lightly and every so often he found the process challenging.

“At times being followed all the time was hard. On several occasions I made sure that I lost the film crew so I could have personal time with some really nice women,” he says.

Matthew has made a great life for himself in Auckland. He has a job he loves at a cactus nursery, is a record-breaking bodybuilder and has his own apartment in the central city. All that’s missing for Mathew is a partner or better still a wife. Most of his girlfriends have been average sized women, but now he is in his 30s he is keen to settle down, preferably with someone who’s also a Little Person.

Matthew found he learnt a lot about himself while filming the documentary.

“Everyone at the conference called me a conference virgin. Your first LPA conference knocks all new Little People over. I loved being one of the taller LP’s there. I wished I could have relaxed more too,” he says.

“It was hard sometimes to relax when you had a documentary crew with you. Next time I go to the conference I need to meet more people. I wished I had better time management. The eight day conference goes by really quickly.”

With only around 150 Little People in New Zealand the chances of finding a partner your own age with similar interests is remote. Matthew, like many other Little People only met his first Little Person in his mid 20’s; however the search for a partner means he must look further a field.

As one of the 1500 delegates attending, can he spark a connection with that special someone? This is his story. Find out more in Inside New Zealand: A Little Love Story, screening Thursday, July 31 at 9.30pm on TV3.

Family stories needed for new TV Series

18 07 2008

Blended families, step-families, cross-cultural marriages and extended whanau – for many second-time round couples, one or both partners often come with heavy family baggage.

ONCE BITTEN is a documentary series about couples that have risen to the challenge to find their ‘happily ever after’ amid ferociously complex family circumstances – and the programme needs your stories.

Maybe your family swells to the size of a football team every time the rellies descend. Perhaps your relationship has caused a significant break from, or return to, your family and culture. Or perhaps you’re grappling one of life’s big events – a wedding, a baby, a new house – while juggling some big personalities within the family. The more complex the better, according to programme-makers.

“We will draw from the wider community and across two countries to find compelling stories, which highlight different issues and cultural perspectives,” says Janette Howe, whose Kingsland-based company, Caravan Productions, will co-produce the two-part programme with Circe Films in Australia. “Stories from diverse cultures across both countries: Maori, Asian, Indian, Arabic and European Australian, will show how culture and family bring us together – or can tear us apart.”

Paula Whetu Jones (Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Ngati Porou) will direct the New Zealand component of the documentary. Her credits include award-winning documentary Gang Girls, Mama Tere and Tatai Hono – and she is highly experienced in projects that involve social issues and family.

Film Finance Corporation and New Zealand On Air will fund the project, which will screen on SBS Australia and Maori Television.

With filming due to begin in August, Howe is still on the hunt for more families, and in particular hopes to hear from Maori couples who believe that sharing their story – the joys, the complications, the pitfalls, the lessons learned – will give others an insight into family life today.

For more information contact:
Janette Howe
Caravan Productions
M 021 825 199
P 09 369 1981

Sperm Wars on Inside New Zealand

10 07 2008

Reproductively speaking, it has been suggested that today’s man is only half the man his grandfather was. Inside New Zealand: Sperm Wars takes a look at some of the myths and truths around sperm on Thursday, July 24th at 9:30pm on TV3.

Does wearing boxers or good old tighty whiteys really make a difference to your sperm count and motility? Does the way you sit and cross your legs affect your swimmers? Is it true that if you work with a laptop on your lap you can become infertile? Studies have implicated various aspects of modern living in putting sperm under threat. Cell phones, laptop computers, junk food, alcohol and prescription drugs have all been discussed in recent studies suggesting that male fertility rates are dropping.

Inside New Zealand: Sperm Wars conducts tests on virile young men to see how they are affected by some of these factors, as well as meeting three couples who desperately want children, but are affected by the man’s fertility.

We meet one couple hoping that a vasectomy reversal will give them the baby they desperately want. Steve’s first marriage resulted in two children, and he thought that his family was complete. Seven years later, he has changed his mind, and wants to extend his family with his second wife, Nicola. But with less than a 50% chance of the operation being a success, will their baby dreams go begging?

We will also meet Wade, a man in his late twenties who is having trouble impregnating his wife Jo because his sperm count is so low he is classed as infertile. Will a naturopath have the answer for him? Can Wade really give up alcohol, cigarettes and junk food and replace them with healthy food and herbal tinctures and tablets? And if he can, will it even make a difference?

Finally, we meet Sam and Alastair, who have known for nearly eight years that Alastair’s motility is the reason they are unable to have children. As it is unlikely that Alastair’s sperm would ever be able to travel the distance to the egg, they have turned to science with ICSI fertilisation. The procedure is pricy, but if it works it will all be worth it. Are Sam and Alastair’s baby dreams about to come true?

Find out when Inside New Zealand: Sperm Wars screens on Thursday, July 24th at 9:30pm on TV3.

Brian Tamaki – Life of Brian documentary

7 07 2008

Family man or gay basher? Charmer or manipulator? Man of God or extreme fundamentalist? You be the judge with this behind-the-pulpit look at Bishop Brian Tamaki in Inside New Zealand: The Life of Brian, screening Thursday, July 17th at 9:30pm on TV3.

Filmed over seven months, producer and presenter Ross Jennings negotiates a probing, honest and open look into Tamaki’s private and professional lives. We go inside the head of the Destiny Church’s home, inside his boat, inside his church and yes, even inside his flashy wardrobe.

Jennings puts the tough questions to the controversial Tamaki, and speaks to his disgruntled former finance officer. It is true that members are asked to sign a contract that tells them that by holding back their tithe they are robbing God?

Jennings also asks, how does he pay for his lifestyle? With public showings of parties and lavish vacations, were these paid for by Tamaki personally, or by the church? And is it true that the large donations of “first fruit” that Destiny Church-goers are encouraged to make go directly to Brian?

We will look at the non-financial controversies of Bishop Brian as well. Tamaki has long been outspoken on his views on homosexuality, yet he claims to believe that his is “the most tolerant religion on Earth.” But what would he do if one of his grandchildren were to become gay? Would he reject him or her?

Plus, what are Tamaki’s political aspirations? Does he really believe he can be Prime Minister? And what laws would he change if he were to get into power?

All of these questions are put to the man when Inside New Zealand: The Life of Brian screens on Thursday, July 17th at 9:30pm on TV3.

Insatiable Hunger documentary on Inside New Zealand

1 07 2008

Insatiable Hunger Documentary
New Zealand may have a growing obesity problem, but for these young people, their weight issues really aren’t their fault. They suffer from a disease where their stomachs are unable to tell their brains that they are full, and they always think that they are starving. Inside New Zealand: Insatiable Hunger follows four Kiwi families with children suffering from the devastating effects of Prader-Willi Syndrome on Thursday, July 10th at 9:30pm on TV3.

Despite the obvious shortcomings of a disease that puts sufferers in danger of literally eating themselves to death, PWS is coupled with other cruel side effects. Low muscle tone limiting exercise and a slow metabolism make over-eating even more dangerous, while behavioural problems make life even harder for sufferers’ loved ones, who are already dealing with padlocking food in the cupboard and keeping sufferers out of rubbish bins.

Two Kiwi children a year are diagnosed with this non-inherited lifelong and life-threatening disease. It does not discriminate between race or gender, and it is not known how it is caused. Ironically, the disease which will see these children balloon begins with them having stunted growth, and stunted development.

While PWS has no known cure, regular growth hormone injections have been proven to reduce fat and improve muscle tone, significantly helping with obesity and related complications. Yet although these injections are funded in other countries, Kiwi kids suffering from PWS face an ongoing battle trying to qualify for the treatment in New Zealand. Pharmac, the New Zealand government drug-governing agency, has strict criteria for funding the treatment, which many PWS kids do not fit into.

Inside New Zealand: Insatiable Hunger follows four young people suffering from the disease at different stages of their lives. This includes tiny, doll like 18-month-old Amelia Reid, who only sat up by herself at 14 months of age. Amelia needs to have the growth hormone treatment so that she can at least have a chance at developing normally.

We will also meet three-year-old Cameron O’Reilly, whose parents have been paying upwards of $10,000 per year for him to have the treatment. Cameron has finally nailed the art of walking, and with his growth hormone treatment has now been able to graduate to the big kids section at kindy. However, this may be Cameron’s last year with free access to food and treats, as the insatiable appetite will kick in sometime between now and five years old.

In Northland, 11-year-old Darcy Harris faces being shifted out of the mainstream education system due to his behavioural problems caused by the disorder. Getting caught stealing his classmates’ lunches, and with violent outbursts, he is putting a lot of pressure on the staff at his small rural school.

Finally, Inside New Zealand: Insatiable Hunger talks to 22-year-old Francie Thornton, who is of the old era of PWS sufferers. She is not eligible for the growth hormone treatment, and will be forced out of her sheltered flat if she can’t control her eating – and her temper. She is strictly monitored by minders, and should be on a 1,000 calorie per day diet, but Francie is resourceful…

Inside New Zealand: Insatiable Hunger witnesses these four young people and their families as they struggle with life as PWS sufferers on Thursday, July 10th at 9:30pm on TV3.

Life, Death and a Lung Transplant

1 07 2008

Pauli O Halloran
Pauli O’Halloran is just the 96th person in New Zealand to have received a lung transplant. Of those 96, only 37 are still alive. His gruelling and heart-wrenching battle is caught on camera by his film-maker wife in the deeply intimate documentary Inside New Zealand: Life, Death and a Lung Transplant, screening on Thursday, July 3rd at 9:30pm on TV3.

At 44 years old, Pauli’s lifelong battle with Cystic Fibrosis made him one of New Zealand’s oldest survivors of CF, living well past the average life expectancy of 31 for a male. In the lead up to his operation, every day was a constant struggle to breathe, and the older he got, the sicker he became. His only hope of survival lay in new lungs.

For those needing an organ transplant, the struggle is a tricky one. Recipients need to get sick enough so that they qualify to get on the active waiting list, while remaining healthy enough to be able to survive the operation.

And a lung transplant especially is not an easy operation. Only around 15 are performed each year, and they come with a long, painful and mentally and physically tough recovery. Although survival chances start at 85% at one month, they quickly plummet to 70% at one year, and 50% at three years.

“You wouldn’t do it if you had a choice,” says Pauli. “You’d only choose a lung transplant if your other choice was death. Lucky old me. What a choice.”

Inside New Zealand: Life, Death and a Lung Transplant follows Pauli’s battle through the story told by his wife Rachel Jean of Isola Productions. With unlimited, 24-hour access to our subject, this piece documents Pauli’s five-year struggle to get on the waiting list, hope for new lungs, and face the very real possibility of leaving behind a wife and two young children who will not be able to remember their father.

“If it was just me on my own, I probably wouldn’t have bothered. But life is more complicated than that. I’m basically doing it for Rachel and Frankie and Violet. I just don’t want to leave them. I want to see the kids grow up… and they need a dad.”

Tune in for the rollercoaster of emotions that is Inside New Zealand: Life, Death and a Lung Transplant, screening Thursday, July 3rd at 9:30pm on TV3.