E Tipu E Rea (Grow up tender young shoot) is a series of 30 minute dramas engaging with the diversity of Māori experiences of the Pākehā world, from rural horse-back riding and eeling to urban hostility and cultural estrangement. As the first anthology of Māori television plays, and the first production to use predominantly Māori personnel, E Tipu E Rea was a flag-bearer for Māori storytelling on primetime television. Its mandate and achievement was to tell Māori stories in a Māori way.
A teenage boy (Lance Wharewaka) should be at school but he instead learns about the bush and old days from his ailing grand uncle (Bill Tawhai). His friendship prepares him with the necessary skills for life. Written by poet Hone Tuwhare, Eel was the debut directing drama for producer, TV3 newsreader and Wild South presenter Joanna Paul."He [Bill] brought a mana with him and has such irreplaceable Māori knowledge. I remember him discussing [...] how he used bobs to catch eels. He remembers using flax - you can't buy knowledge like that."
A rural raised woman (Diane Reynolds) reconnects with her half sister (Rena Owen) in the city. In the process she learns some hard life lessons. Roimata was the first film directed by then unknown writer Riwia Brown. Brown was initially reluctant to direct the adaptation of her play but, encouraged by producer Larry Parr, she decided that with only one Māori woman director in New Zealand (Merata Mita) there was a need to develop the talent of Māori women in the industry. Brown later wrote the screenplay for Once Were Warriors.
The night before his granddaughter's birthday, a grandfather (Anzac Wallace) has a "dream". He then proceeds with the assistance of his wife (Erihapeti Ngata) and wider community to analyse the dream, with the outcome being a win on the horses. The edition of the pioneering E Tipu E Rea series was the first film as director for actor/writer Rawiri Paratene; the screenplay was by Patricia Grace from her own short story, The Dream. Te Moemoea was filmed in Te Reo and English. Look out for a young Temuera Morrison.
A teenage boy's unorthodox relationship with his father (Wi Kuki Kaa) is explored as he learns about the guises of hypocrisy in this E Tipu E Rea edition, written by Bruce Stewart and starring Faifua Amiga as Thunderbox Junior. After establishing a reputation as one of New Zealand's most original commercials directors this was Lee (Once Were Warriors) Tamahori's first attempt at the helm of longer drama. "You tend to get a bit of experience making people laugh when you direct commercials [...]. One thing I'm sure of is that people like to laugh at themselves."
In a nod to his theatre training, Whale Rider actor Rawiri Paratene (then best known as a presenter on Play School) scripts three stories to a marae audience. A bored schoolboy's (Faifua Amiga) verbal banter with a sarcastic school teacher; a prostitute's altercation with a client; and a young girl and her grandfather prepare and wait for the body of her father at the pā. It was the first film directed by Don Selwyn; "what Rawiri is saying in his script is that there are lots of things Māori which are left out of the education system."