A visit to the set of Geoff Murphy film The Quiet Earth motivated Karen Sidney to work in the screen industry. One of her first jobs was in the art department for 1985 miniseries Heart of the High Country. She went on to join a filmmaking course run by Ngāti director Barry Barclay, then moved into documentary, producing A Whale's Tale. She also wrote award-winning Cliff Curtis drama Kahu & Maia. In 2002 Sidney helped develop Aroha, a series of love stories in te reo. She also co-produced, and wrote episode Mataora. Sidney has spent time lecturing in film studies in Whangarei, and working at Creative Northland.

[Aroha] was dreamed up by Joanna Paul, Melissa Wikaire and myself as we gathered one night to mourn the loss of friend Cherie O'Shea, and over chocolate martinis we said 'there is not enough love in the world' ... Karen Sidney, on the birth of Aroha, a series of contemporary love stories

7 Sisters

2019, Director, Producer - Film

In Conversation with Rena Owen

2019, Director, Producer - Film

Aroha - He Pōraruraru

2002, Producer - Television

In this episode of te reo drama series Aroha, a woman finds her dream wedding night turning into a nightmare, after she is haunted by visions of a terrifying warrior. Kura (actor and On the Ladder presenter Tahei Simpson) is warned by a kuia that her nights will be troubled, but Kura's husband (Te Karere presenter Scotty Morrison) wants to ignore the prediction. The old woman may hold the only answer to an impossible situation. The kuia is portrayed by Tungia Baker (Death of the Land, Open House), who passed away in July 2005. 

Aroha - Irikura

2002, Producer - Television

Lovers move towards each other through space and time in this episode of te reo series Aroha. Tapu (Cliff Curtis) plays a doctor who is unnerved by the strange behaviour of elderly patient Kahu. Kahu's death affects his niece Irikura (Ngarimu Daniels) deeply, and at the tangi secrets are revealed. Tapu and Irikura are haunted by visions of a shared past; Kahu's ghost has plans for them. This episode played in black and white. Celebrated Māori actor and mentor Don Selwyn plays Kahu. Director Guy Moana created tā moko and carvings for classic 1994 film Once Were Warriors.

Aroha - Mataora

2002, Writer, Producer - Television

When traumatised soldier Matiu returns from service overseas, he struggles to reconnect with his wife and children. In this episode of te reo series Aroha, the marriage between Matiu (Te Kauri Wihongi) and Wai (Rena Owen) mirrors the Māori legend of Niwareka and Mataora, a union between spiritual and earthly worlds. Matiu decides to seek out his ghosts; he symbolises his reunion with his family through a facial tā moko performed by his father-in-law (Wi Kuki Kaa). Mataroa was written by Aroha co-creator Karen Sidney. It won an award at Canadian festival ImagineNATIVE. 

Aroha - Tiare

2002, Producer - Television

Te reo anthology series Aroha looks at love in all its different forms. This episode follows Tiare (Taungaroa Emile from Once Were Warriors), a shy young Rastafarian caught between several rocks and many hard places. He struggles to tell his sister’s friend Erena (Stacey Daniels Morrison) that he loves her, while grappling with whether to tell his ex Black Fern sister that her boyfriend — and father of her child — is cheating. Luckily, all his problems seem to have one solution…a good old game of rugby. The episode was directed by the late Melissa Wikaire, one of Aroha's creators.

Aroha - Haka and Siva

2002, Producer - Television

This episode of the te reo Māori anthology series follows a scandalous relationship between Siva (Pua Magasiva), a 19-year-old Samoan man, and Haka (radio DJ Ngawai Greenwood) a 45-year-old Māori poet. Unable to contain their passion, the couple's public lovemaking hits the headlines. Siva's family take matters into their own hands. This episode marked the first on-screen starring role for Magasiva, who would make his name as nurse Vinnie Kruse in Shortland Street. Director Paora Maxwell later spent three years as Chief Executive at Māori Television.  

Aroha - Te Ao Mahana

2002, Producer - Television

Once Were Warriors star Temuera Morrison plays another bully in this episode of te reo series Aroha. Morrison is arrogant mechanic Steam, who verbally abuses an overweight young employee nicknamed Meat Pie (Vince Ata). Steam also has the hots for Meat Pie's mother (Mere Boynton) — his cousin. The story follows the obese young man as he's manipulated by his mum, mocked by his workmates, and pushed around by strangers. One day Meat Pie snaps. The cast also includes Pio Terei (as a woman!), Mika (as a mechanic) and Tame Iti. Puhi Rangiaho (Waka Huia) directs.

Aroha

2002, Creator, Producer - Television

Award-winning series Aroha was born from a desire to tell contemporary love stories in te reo. The six subtitled stories by Māori writers explored love from many angles. Aroha involved established names (Temuera Morrison, Rena Owen, Paora Maxwell), and emerging talents (writer Briar Grace-Smith, actor/director Tearapa Kahi). Filming began in mid 2001; in 2002 three episodes played at the Auckland International Film Festival. Aroha was the brainchild of Karen Sidney, Joanna Paul, and the late Melissa Wikaire. The series was made in tribute to late filmmaker Cherie O'Shea. 

Taniwha

1996, Producer - Television

Wahine Toa (Aotearoa TV)

1996 - 1997, Director - Television

Tā Moko (Derek Lardelli)

1994, Producer - Television

Te Rā Whānau/The Birthday

1994, Director, Writer - Television

Ngā Puna: Kahu & Maia

1994, Writer - Television

You and Me

1993 - 1998, Director, Writer - Television

The irrepressible Suzy Cato (who previously presented TV3's Early Bird Show and 3pm) presents a programme for pre-schoolers. From a set designed to look like a house with bathroom, bedroom and live garden, Suzy talks directly to her audience and makes extensive use of te reo. A multi-cultural focus also comes through in the show's stories, songs, animations and puppetry. Suzy's on-set companions are a doll, teddy bear, clown and scarecrow — and a sock puppet family makes regular appearances. More than 2000 episodes were made in eight years.   

A Whale's Tale

1992, Producer - Television

Marae

1997, Subject - Television

Launched in 1992, Marae is the longest running Māori current affairs programme. It aims to keep its audience in touch with the issues — political or otherwise — that affect Māori, and explain kauapa Māori from a Māori perspective. The Marae Digipoll is seen as a respected barometer of matters Māori. Marae was relaunched briefly in October 2010 as Marae Investigates, presented by Scotty Morrison and Jodi Ihaka Marae (and later Miriama Kamo) . Screening on TV One, Marae is presented half in english and half in te reoi. It is now made by company Pango Productions.

Healing the Wounds

1989, Director, Writer, Producer - Short Film

Ka Mate! Ka Mate!

1987, Assistant Director - Short Film

This short film is a re-enactment of events leading to Ngāti Toa leader Te Rauparaha’s ‘Ka Mate’ haka; he composed the chant after evading enemy capture by hiding in a kumara pit. (The haka would become famous after the All Blacks adopted it as a pre-game challenge.) Directed by pioneering filmmaker Barry Barclay in te reo, produced by John O’Shea and written by Tama Poata, the short was made in the lead-up to landmark Māori feature Ngati. Many of the crew were enlisted via a work scheme, aimed at redressing the lack of young Māori working in the screen industry.

Te Karere

1994, Subject - Television

Te Karere is a long-running daily news programme in te reo Māori. Based in the TVNZ newsroom, Te Karere covers key events and stories in the Māori world as well as bringing a Māori perspective to the day's news. Significant for pioneering Māori news on mainstream TV, for three decades it has been a platform for Māori to comment on issues and events. Founded by Derek Fox, it first went to air during Māori Language Week in 1982, before getting its own regular slot the folowing year. Te Karere initially ran for only four minutes, then 15; in 2009 it was expanded to half an hour.