Jackson's Wharf: about

Families - love them or hate them, there's no escaping the fact they're a part of who you are. Ben Jackson is about to find out, when he returns home to Jackson's Wharf.

Mention the name Jackson on Kaupapa Peninsula, and any local will nod sagely - then ask which one you're after. Jackson is a name that's part of this community, like dags on sheep, salt on chips.

There have been Jacksons here since 1844, when Abe Jackson, a 17-year-old seaman, jumped ship. The local joke is he wasn't too bright - he thought he'd got off in Auckland. Jackson's sense of direction may have left a little to be but having made his mistake, he chose to stay. It's easy to see why.

Kaupapa Peninsula is an idyllic spot, until recently a sleepy backwater where locals lived their lives the way they wanted. The Jacksons are fiercely proud of their place and their identity, and proud of their number one son Ben.

Ex-All Black and lawyer, Ben is his home town's most famous export. He lives in the city now, but all that's about to change. His father, Calder, dies suddenly. Recent widower Ben packs up his family and heads home, back to the extensive Jackson clan and the considerable fallout from Calder's last will and testament.

Little does Ben suspect how much his homecoming will churn up all that lies below the surface of his home town and its premier family.

Ben's step-brother, Frank, is the local cop. He likes things in Jackson's Wharf done his way. And he doesn't appreciate his older brother being left the family's greatest asset - the Jackson's Wharf hotel. Especially as Frank is the one who stayed behind and has made all the sacrifices.

Ben's return also stirs up strong feelings in Frank's wife, Mahina - memories she's tried hard to forget.

The family grieve and the town pays homage to Calder, while Frank keeps a secret: the night of his father's death he was called to the cabin of the young barmaid, Larissa, to find Calder dead in her bed. He transferred his father's body back to the hotel to protect his mother and the family name.

Ben's mother, Betty, wants him to honour his father's will. Ben is reluctant at first but comes to realise that, since the death of his wife, he has covered his pain by throwing himself into his work at the expense of his children.

Ben left town a long time ago, but now he is back the locals are chuffed. Their town needs a decent, straight up lawyer who will look after their interests, but most of all they need him for the first XV rugby team, which hasn't won a game since... well, since he left.

Mahina's a Jackson now, although Frank marrying a Rewiti was the last thing anybody expected. If the Jacksons can trace their claim back to 1844, the Rewiti clan can trace theirs back considerably further. They still grumble that Abe tricked their ancestors out of the best land - now the site of the pub - though history has recorded the deal as legitimate.

The producers of the serial drama, South Pacific Pictures discovered through audience research and the ratings success of the periodic scheduling of one-hour Shortland Street specials that viewers were hungry for more New Zealand programming.

Producer Tony Holden says results of research carried out by Colmar Brunton showed Kiwi viewers wanted a show that reflects the world in which they live and so Jackson's Wharf was conceived.