Cause of Death: Unknown

Promotional Trailer

There are many sad and untimely deaths in New Zealand each year. In most cases, the cause of death is tragically clear. But in others, things may not always be as they seem. Cause of Death: Unknown is a new series for TV One, which explores cases where the circumstances of death may initially appear to be one thing – but the investigation ultimately reveals something quite different.  

Each episode follows a multi-layered investigation in which police officers, Civil Aviation or Maritime New Zealand investigators and ESR scientists have worked together to unravel the truth. A New Zealand diplomat is discovered dying from a single stab wound, in a supposedly secure residential compound in Honiara  – leaving a crime scene that baffles investigators.

Two people lose their lives when a home built plane plummets into the Kaipara Harbour minutes after take off – but why was the experienced pilot so disoriented he couldn’t pinpoint his location the night before?  A young Japanese student is found floating in a river in Christchurch metres from his home stay address – tragic mischance or foul play?

prog-doa-alley prog-doa-bike prog-doa-dominic prog-doa-feet






A boat drifting aimlessly in Doubtful Sound with two experienced fishermen aboard – one dead, one in critical condition, unable to tell investigators what happened.

A young trooper is found dead in a walled off alley just weeks after a fellow soldier is court-martialled for assaulting him – but did he fall … or was he pushed?

In each episode, the investigating teams retell the story of the discoveries that cracked the case – illustrated with recreations and original evidence including forensics results and scene photos.

Interviews with friends and family remind us of the human tragedy behind each headline and give a moving testament to the sense of loss felt by those left behind.

Cause of Death: Unknown seeks to unravel the mystery behind these stories.


Production Details

Production personnel

Year of screening: 2013

Producers: Samantha Blackley, Anna Lynch

Head of production: Andrea Lamb

Exec producer: Cass Avery

Network exec: Kathryn Graham

Reconstruction Director: Robin Shingleton

Researchers: Nicole Wood, Gemma Murcott-Ward, Kathryn McMillan

Online editor: James Brookes

Colourist: James Gardner

Offline editors: Justin Redding, Phil Holt

Production managers: Kylie Croft, Angela Burgess

Production coordinators: Rochelle Leef, Siobhan Kelly, Wendy Tetley, Olivia Lynd

Production Assistant: Haidee Brown

Director of Photography: Scottie McKinnon

Camera: Leon Kirkbeck, Clayton Carpinter, Mike O’Connor, Evan Pugh, Gary Hopper, Mark Orton

Sound: Peter Kraan, John McNicholas

Sound Mix: Sale Street Studios

Titles: Phil Holt

Graphics: 6twenty Design

Narrator: Shane Cortese

Production accountant: Hina Dalwadi

Financial controller: Glenda Paterson

Funded by: TVNZ