Discover Canterbury: Remembering the Telethon

Telethon was a 24-hour live television fundraiser aimed at securing donations from viewers for charitable causes ranging from the National Children’s Health Foundation in 1976 to the Rheumatism and Arthritis Foundation in 1978. The first Telethon was launched in 1975, where they raised over half a million dollars for the St John Ambulance Association. It continued to be run every few years until 1993, although The Big Night In in 2009 and the Vaxathon in 2021 could also be considered as Telethons.

Telethon attracted not only local celebrities, such as Jason Gunn and Fred Dagg, but also international celebrities such as Basil Brush, Entertainment Tonight’s Leeza Gibbons, Coronation Street’s Christopher Quinton and Lauren Bacall.


One of the main aspects of Telethon that I personally remember is its theme song, “Thank You Very Much For Your Kind Donation”, as it would be stuck in my head for months afterwards!

On the Canterbury Stories website, we are lucky to have numerous photographs of the Telethons that have occurred over the years.

What are your memories of Telethon?  Do you have any photographs showing the Telethons or other fundraisers?  You can contribute to our collection via the Discovery Wall website.


NZonScreen. 2024. Telethon (Television, 1975-1993). 

Press. 1976. Telethon again - Papers Past

Press. 1979. $2M for Telethon - Papers Past

Rutledge, D. 2021. Covid-19: Super Saturday Vaxathon to broadcast on Three on October 16. - NewsHub

Ward, T. 2021. Telethon was a glorious shambles that never slept - The Spinoff

Telethon - Wikipedia

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Discover Canterbury is a fortnightly blog post promoting beautiful, interesting, weird, & wonderful digital content from our Canterbury Stories and Discovery Wall collections.
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