Veteran Tagata Pasifika reporter John Utanga has iterviewed prime ministers and covered everything from vaka voyaging to Polyfest. Born and bred in Rarotonga, Utanga studied journalism at Auckland University and started in print before transferring to screen reportage in 1994. Utanga co-founded the Pacific Islands Media Association, has chaired AUT’s Pacific Media Centre, and in 2015 completed the Taupo Ironman.

I don’t see myself as a role model, I see myself as a journalist who works in a high-profile medium. However, in this job, I’m aware that many people see me differently – particularly Cook Islanders – and I can respect that, even though I’m uncomfortable with the notion of being a 'role model'. Utanga on undergoing a weight loss regime in front of the camera for 'Walk the Talk', a Tagata Pasifika special report
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Tagata Pasifika - 7 March 2015

2015, Reporter, Director, Camera, News Editor - Television

In this March 2015 episode of long-running magazine-style show Tagata Pasifika, Sandra Kailahi explores the factors that lead some young pasifika mothers to abandon their newborns. Then hosts Marama T-Pole and Tom Natoealofa interview actor Teuila Blakely, who had her son at 17, about what it was like being a teenage mother, and what needs to change to support others in that situation. Also featured are stories about the Samoan King’s son converting to the Mormon faith, and allegations New Zealand has been conducting surveillance on its Pacific neighbours.

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Tagata Pasifika - Walk the Talk

2010, Subject - Television

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ASB Polyfest 2008

2008, Director - Television

ASB Polyfest 2008 is an action-packed showcase of Māori and Pacific youth competing in the annual schools' cultural festival in South Auckland. Māori, Tonga, Samoa, Niue and Cook Islands performances, 100,000 people and trophies to be won make this competitive event one of the most important dates for youth in Auckland. Behind the scenes footage, colourful costumes, trials and tribulations and "the Pacific way" are captured. Made by the Tagata Pasifika team, with directors including Naked Samoans Shimpal Lelisi and Mario Gaoa. 

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Tagata Pasifika - 20th Anniversary Special

2007, Presenter - Television

Actor Robbie Magasiva and discus champ Beatrice Faumuina oversee this hour-long Tagata Pasifika 20th birthday celebration. Presenters past and present survey changes in the Aotearoa PI community over the show’s run: from education, arts and culture (Ardijah, OMC, Michel Tuffery’s corned beef bulls and the Naked Samoans), to political pioneers (Mark Gosche, Winnie Laban), and sports heroes (All Black icons Jones, Lomu and Umaga). Among those talking about the show’s importance to NZ Pasifika culture are Helen Clark, Annie Crummer and many others.

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Tagata Pasifika - The Naked Samoans

2001, Camera - Television

Tagata Pasifika takes a look at Kiwi PI theatre phenomenon The Naked Samoans, and features extensive footage from a number of their stage comedies. Viewers will recognise early versions of a number of characters who would later feature on the Samoans' animated hit bro'Town. Co-founder Oscar Kightley talks about the group. AO-rated, the episode captures the non-PC island humour that would shape five seasons of bro'Town, and two Sione's Wedding feature films.

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Tagata Pasifika

1994 - ongoing, Reporter - Television

Tagata Pasifika is a long-running magazine-style show with news, profiles and interviews focusing on Pacific Island communities in New Zealand. The TVNZ show features coverage of Pacific Island cultural events like the annual Pasifika festival, along with longer documentaries. It is the only show focusing on PIs on mainstream New Zealand television. Debuting on 4 April 1987, Tagata Pasifika celebrated 25 years on air in 2012. Stephen Stehlin is the show's longtime producer.