Bro’ town

ICDC bro'Town Research Project

The popularity of New Zealand’s first prime-time animated comedy bro’Town, along with its ubiquitous themes of identity and multiculturalism, inspired ICDC researchers to take a closer look at the programme.

The project focused on how bro'Town constructs and communicates these themes through linguistic and visual means.

bro'Town is written and performed by the comedy troupe 'The Naked Samoans' and first aired on TV3 in 2004. Its debut was significant in that it introduced a New Zealand version of the animated comedy genre made popular by US programmes such as The Simpsons and South Park.

It also increased the visibility of Pasifika people on prime-time television in New Zealand. The ICDC research team included academics with interests in art and design, sociolinguistics, broadcasting and media.

The project involved three different strands of analysis:

  • The positioning of a New Zealand produced animated sit-com against the country's broadcasting history
  • A history where minorities were less visible and where locally made comedy generally struggled to rate well
  • A sociolinguistic analysis of the way speech is used to perform identity in the Samoan characters in bro’Town
  • A semiotic visual analysis looking at the ways in which aspects of identity are communicated visually.

The research project was funded by a grant from AUT's Faculty of Applied Humanities.

Research team

  • Allan Bell, Director, ICDC
  • Philippa Smith, Acting Director, ICDC
  • Andy Gibson, Researcher, ICDC
  • Kate Brettkelly-Chalmers, Administrator and Researcher, ICDC
  • Tina Engels-Schwarzpaul, Associate Professor, School of Art and Design
  • Katalin Lustyk, Postdoctoral Fellow (2004/2005), ICDC
  • Albert Refiti, Senior Lecturer, School of Art and Design.