End of an era: Three airs final Newshub Late programme ahead of news service closure

The era of late-night television news in New Zealand has come to an end, with the final edition of Newshub Late on Friday night.  

The cessation of the Three programme comes after Warner Bros. Discovery announced the closure of its Newshub news operation.  

At the end of Friday's broadcast, host Rebecca Wright thanked past and present production crew for their work.

"Thanks for making a little history here on Three, with this plucky little late-night news slot," said Wright.  

"I'm the last person to be sitting in this seat, so I want to recognise all of those talents who sat here before me, nearly all of them women, who each shaped this programme and went on to be well-known and highly-regarded news people.  

"This programme has been an incubator of talent, a place of pure creativity, it's caused the most trouble for management over the years, and I know that we've all been very proud to be a part of it," she said.   

Newshub Late followed in the footsteps of some of Aotearoa's most beloved late-night news shows, all starting with Nightline - 34 years ago.  

In 2014, Nightline was replaced with 'The Paul Henry Show', but when the host was moved to the breakfast show a new late news programme 'Newsworthy' was launched, followed by Newshub Late in 2016.  

Samantha Hayes, Ingrid Hipkiss, Janet Wilson and Belinda Todd hosting late news programmes on Three
Samantha Hayes, Ingrid Hipkiss, Janet Wilson and Belinda Todd hosting late news programmes on Three Photo credit: Newshub

The late news slot has been where many familiar faces - like Newshub Live at 6pm presenter Samantha Hayes - had their break. 

Hayes was New Zealand's youngest-ever TV host when she started presenting Nightline in 2007.    

Three's late night news offering has been fronted by several household names over the years, such as Ingrid Hipkiss, Paul Henry, Janika ter Ellen, Sacha McNeil, Carolyn Robinson, Carly Flynn, Rachel Smalley, Leanne Malcolm, Janet Wilson, Joanna Paul and the iconic Belinda Todd.   

"We were just running with scissors with our hair on fire," said Todd about the Nightline days in the early 90s.

One sexually explicit segment called '69 positions in 60 seconds' caused a particular stir and a wave of complaints.   

She also was seen on screen passionately kissing a rooster.   

"No one expected anything of it, so we did what we liked."   

Belinda Todd  with the Grim Reaper during a Nightline sketch in the early 90s
Belinda Todd with the Grim Reaper during a Nightline sketch in the early 90s Photo credit: Newshub

Todd visited the Three studios earlier this month, walking back in the same reception that was the scene of perhaps her most famous Nightline skit.   

Just weeks after the programme launched in 1990, TV3 went into receivership, and Todd filmed a segment walking around with the Grim Reaper trying to sell off furniture and her colleagues

Carly Flynn has fond memories of the freedom the show had.  

"We were sort of forgotten half the time so unless there was a BSA complaint, of which there were many, we were sort of left to our own devices.  

"It was like we were in the naughty corner of Newsroom all the time. We were so lucky," said Flynn.

David Farrier during his time as a Nightline reporter
David Farrier during his time as a Nightline reporter

Documentary-maker David Farrier started his broadcasting career as a reporter on Nightline and later went on to host Newsworthy.  

"No one was really checking anything - and we got away with some crazy shit," said Farrier from his home in Los Angeles.   

"I mean I talked to a guy who was like f**king a dolphin."  

Before Farrier, Nightline had another legendary arts reporter, Dylan Taite, who famously filmed music segments in an out-of-service elevator finishing with the tagline "See ya, wouldn't want to be ya!".  

The Taite Music Prize was named after him following his death, to recognise his contribution to music journalism in New Zealand.   

Bill Ralston also made his mark in broadcasting as Nightline's political reporter in the early 90s.   

The end of the programme marks the end of local late-night television news in New Zealand.   

TVNZ ended its late news programme Tonight in May.   

Newshub Live at 6pm and AM will air their final programmes on July 5.   

Stuff will produce a 6pm news programme to air on Three from July 6, but no other television news programmes will air on the channel.