Director Anna Marbrook came to the screen from an extensive theatre background (she co-founded Auckland company Theatre at Large). More than 150 episodes directing on Shortland Street laid the groundwork for a run of factual work, focused on Pacific themes: including food series Real Pasifik, award-winning waka documentary Te Mana o te Moana – The Pacific Voyagers, and reality series Waka Warriors.
I made a very conscious choice to put Pacific voices up front and centre and position them as holding the wisdom and brilliance necessary to carry us all forward as humans. Anna Marbrook on her work for television
Te Araroa is a 3000 kilometre walkway running from Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Rēinga) to the southern tip of Te Waipounamu (the South Island). It opened in late 2011, and was quickly acclaimed as one of the world’s great walking treks. Each hour long episode of this series sees entertainer Pio Terei go on a hīkoi along a segment of the trail, crossing picturesque landscapes and meeting the people who inhabit them, from bagpipe blowers, stuntmen and eel catchers to “knitting ninjas” and conservationists. Two seven-part series were produced by Scottie Productions.
In this 10-part Māori Television series from 2015, three young people go aboard a traditional waka, on a six week trip around the North Island. Waka Warrior grew out of a larger project where seven traditional waka undertook a two year, 22,000 nautical mile trip from Auckland to North America and back, via the Pacific. The waka Haunui becomes a wi-fi free 'floating marae' for the students, as they are mentored in the "ancient laws of voyaging". The series was created by Anna Marbrook and veteran waka skipper Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr, and produced by Auckland company Zoomslide.
In this first episode of the 2015 Māori Television series, three rangitahi answer a Facebook call for sailors who are up for reconnecting with nature and their culture, on a six week waka journey circumnavigating the North Island. The te ao Māori twist on the fish out of water reality show sees a trio of young Māori (including Boy discovery Rickylee Russell-Waipuka) set sail on Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr’s waka Haunui, where they’re separated from social media, face seasickness and rough seas, and learn the "ancient laws of voyaging". The winner gets the chance to join a voyage to Rarotonga.
This series sees Kiwi-born chef Robert Oliver roving the Pacific, exploring local food culture, and looking to inspire tourist resorts to include indigenous cuisine traditions in their offerings. This opening episode of the second series sees Oliver return to where he grew up: Fiji. In Ra Province he buys local and goes bush (cress and prawns) and sea shopping (reef octopus and seaweed), to help Volivoli Beach Resort upgrade its menu from backpacker fare to upmarket local delicacies. The series was inspired by Oliver’s award-winning book Me’a Kai.
In this show Kiwi-born chef Robert Oliver travels to resorts across the Pacific, where he meets chefs and encourages them to introduce more local ingredients and cuisine to resort menus. Each episode uses food as a starting point to explore culture and community. Locations included Fiji, Tonga, Tahiti, Vanuatu, Samoa and the Cook Islands. Based on Oliver’s award-winning cookbook Me’a Kai, the TVNZ series was developed by Anna Marbrook and Heather Lee from Zoomslide Productions. A second season followed in 2014. Real Pasifik screened in Australia on SBS and Foxtel.
Real Pasifik is a roving celebration of Pacific food and culture. Inspired by chef Robert Oliver’s acclaimed cookbook Me’a Kai, the show follows Oliver as he travels across the Pacific, aiming to inspire resort chefs to showcase indigenous cuisine. In this opening episode of the first series, Oliver heads to the Cook Islands where he visits a marae for a kai blessing, before tasting goat and taro from an an umu (earth oven). He goes lagoon spear fishing, samples pink potato salad (aka ‘mayonnaise’) and serves up a banquet of locally-cooked food to assembled VIPs.
This documentary shows two directors and a cast of actors working to breathe new life into Shakespeare. Veteran Ian Mune prepares to tackle one of the most difficult leading roles in classical theatre: King Lear. "If you're gonna climb hills, why not Everest?" he says. The unorthodox, bring it alive approach of Theatre At Large directors Anna Marbrook and Christian Penny (future director of Toi Whakaari) seems to err on the side of playfulness. But viewers are shown there is a method to their madness, when scenes from Shakespeare's drama are presented in beautifully-lit tableaus.
Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an inner city Auckland hospital. The long-running South Pacific Pictures production is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week. In 2017 the show was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary, making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture — starting with “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!” in the very first episode. Mihi Murray writes about Shortland Street here.