30 Oct 2022

Before Sione's Wedding there were the Duckrockers

From Standing Room Only, 1:31 pm on 30 October 2022
Duckrockers - Hero shot

Duckrockers - Hero shot Photo: supplied

The heroes of the 2006 hit movie Sione’s Wedding return to the screen in new series Duckrockers – not as adults, but as a teenage gang, back where it all began. 

It’s 1984, and the four mates go to the 1984 DD Smash gig in Auckland's Aotea Square that ended with the infamous ‘Queen Street riot’.  

When a newspaper headline blames it on “drunk Polynesian schoolboys”, the four need an alibi – fast. 

Building a world for the prequel came easily, says co-writer Teuila Blakely who played Sefa's partner Lelani in Sione’s Wedding and now plays her Mum, Lana.   

“These boys, they ruin everything that they show up to, so let’s show when that started. Because we knew the year that we were starting the show in, [in the writer’s room] we just went ‘they started the Queen Street riots’.” 

Teuila Blakely as Lana Brown

 Teuila Blakely as Lana Brown Photo: supplied

The creatives behind the series don’t shy away from showing hardships faced by its characters, Blakely says. 

“The heart of all comedy is truth and we love to tell the truth in our stories...at the heart of Sione’s [Wedding] and at the heart of Duckrockers, there is tragedy, as in life. 

“Going back to that time, for Pacific Islands and for the children of migrants, who were us and the first generation to go through the school system here, it wasn’t always a nice time for us, and it certainly wasn’t a nice time for our parents.” 

Duckrockers captures this without being “too heavy”, Blakely says. 

The 1980s world of Duckrockers is the world in which they grew up, she says. 

“When Oscar and James wrote the original Sione’s Wedding, the characters were loosely based on all of us personally so there was always a connection between us, ourselves and the characters.” 

The creators worked intensively with the teenage stars of the show to not only get them ready to film, but to teach them about life in the '80s. 

“Things like how you had to ring somebody’s house to talk to them and you had to leave the house to see people. They couldn’t get over the convenience of their lives today and what they viewed as the inconvenience of our lives." 

Co-writer Oscar Kightley who played Albert in Sione's Wedding 1 and 2 returns to play Albert's father Issac in the series.  

He says while it was fun to throw back to the '80s, it was also a time when New Zealand, as a country, was naïve. 

“I think by the end of the '80s we’d lost our innocence, things like the Springbok tour, the stock market crash, the Rainbow Warrior bombing. All that stuff and the Queen Street riots. I think by the end of the '80s we were a different country." 

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes Photo: Matt Klitscher

Duckrockers goes to air on TVNZ 2 and on TVNZ+ on November 2nd