Actor, Presenter [Ngāi Te Rangi, Te Arawa]
Kimo Houltham was raised in Rotorua, and grew up speaking Māori. He performed kapa haka for tourists as his first job, and got his screen break as a 16-year-old at a speech competition, when a TV producer suggested he audition for Māori Television’s flagship youth show HAA. Hosting gigs on music series LIPS, rangatahi shows I AM TV and talent quest The Stage - Haka Fusion followed. Alongside work as a high school teacher, Houltham has also acted: he was one of the warriors in te reo action feature The Dead Lands, and the heroine’s gay best friend in Rotorua-set TV drama This is Piki.
I love acting... I tell people that TV feeds my kids but theatre feeds my soul. Kimo Houltham to TV Guide, 27 August 2016
The concept behind 2016 Māori Television talent show The Stage: Haka Fusion was to combine traditional kapa haka with contemporay dance disciplines like hip hop and ballet. Contestants competed for a prize purse of $50,000. Produced in-house by Māori TV, Haka Fusion was fronted by Rotorua actor and teacher Kimo Houltham. The first series was won by World Champion hip hop dance crew Identity Dance Company. They were given a wild card lifeline into the finals by the four judges, after their initial routine failed to meet the show’s criteria: it didn’t feature enough kapa haka!
Snapchat meets kapa haka in this acclaimed 2016 Māori Television series. Co-created by actor Cliff Curtis, the Rotorua-set drama follows Piki Johnson (Hinerauwhiri Paki) as she negotiates being a teenager. The cast mixed rangatahi and screen veterans (eg Temuera Morrison). Scriptwriters included Briar Grace-Smith and Victor Rodger. Eight 30-minute episodes were made by the team behind hit show Find Me a Māori Bride. Director Kiel McNaughton told The Spinoff: "what we were trying to achieve was the first soap drama from a Māori perspective."
Television talent show franchises like Got Talent and X Factor won huge global popularity in the first two decades of the 21st Century. In 2016 the format got an Aotearoa twist with this Māori Television series: each contestant’s routine had to include kapa haka. Hosted by Kimo Houltham, this first episode sees Norris Studios (jazz ballet), Mana Wairua (contemporary), and Sovreign (hip hop) compete to see who has "haka flair". Manu Wairua’s World War II-inspired act and Sovreign’s rākau (Māori weaponry) skills saw the judges send them to the quarter finals.
A soap told from a Māori perspective, this Rotorua-set drama follows Piki (newcomer Hinerauwhiri Paki) as she faces the challenges of being a teen in the age of Snapchat. This opening episode sees the aspiring singer juggle an audition for a kapa haka troupe, and a crush on a fellow performer. NZ Herald reviewer Duncan Greive praised Paki as "shockingly good", and found the Māori Television series "a distinctly modern drama which could have come from nowhere else". The show was developed from an original idea by actor Cliff Curtis and producer Lara Northcroft.
Only in Aotearoa began as a 2015 webseries, one of the first fruits of a joint fund for Māori web content, created by organisations NZ On Air and Te Māngai Pāho. In 2017 it became a sketch comedy show on Māori Television. Hosted by multi-cultural comedy trio Frickin Dangerous Bro, the show satirises 21st Century Aotearoa life from a brown perspective. The cast includes Tammy Davis (Outrageous Fortune), Coco Solid (also a writer on the show), Tia Maipi (Born To Dance) and ex league player Wairangi Koopu. Only in Aotearoa was produced by company Kura Productions.
Action movie The Dead Lands joins the short list of screen tales set in Aotearoa, before the pākehā. James Rolleston (star of Boy) plays Hongi, the son of a Māori chief. After the massacre of his tribe, Hongi sets out into the forbidden Dead Lands, hoping to enlist the help of a legendary warrior (Lawrence Makoare). The Anglo-Kiwi co-production marked new screen territory for director Toa Fraser (No. 2) and writer Glenn Standring (fantasy Perfect Creature). After debuting at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival, The Dead Lands topped the Kiwi box office and won three Moa awards.
The final episode of this long-running TVNZ show for Māori youth comes from a BBQ party atop Auckland's TVNZ HQ. When I AM TV began in 2008 it was all about Bebo. Five years later it’s about Bieber (the singer #tautokos the show), Skux and Twitter, and the hashtag #KeepingItReo. Hosts Kimo Houltham and Chey Milne review the year’s highlights: from Koroneihana to a boil up with Katchafire; from dance crews to hunting for Jeff da Māori, with Liam Messam and The Waikato Chiefs; from a Samoan holiday (with co-presenter Taupunakohe Tocker), to defining mana in 2012.
Young choreographer Parris Goebel features in the first episode from season four of Māori youth show I AM TV. The series promoted te reo through interviews and music. Vince Harder performs "Say This With Me", Hawaiian reggae band Kolohe Kai hit Aotearoa, and a teen Parris Goebel heads to the United States to audition for TV's America's Best Dance Crew, with her award-winning hip hop group ReQuest Dance Crew. Plus new presenters Taupunakohe Tocker and Chey Milne are introduced by friends and family. I AM TV is the successor of Mai Time, which ran for 12 years.
Two presenters are tricked into visiting Rotorua in the fourth series of Māori youth magazine show I AM TV. Host Taupunakohe Tocker excitedly tells Kimo Holtham and Chey Milne they are being sent to Las Vegas, but instead they end up in 'Rotovegas'. Holtham and Milne tour around Rotorua diving for coins at Whakarewarewa Village, eating corn cooked in geothermal water, and meeting locals, including musician JJ Rika. Tocker interviews Tiki Taane and ropes pedestrians in to do air guitar, while Stan Walker shows what it's like backstage at his Auckland concert.
Interactivity with viewers was at the heart of TVNZ bilingual youth series I AM TV. Launched at a time when social networking website Bebo was still king, I AM TV enhanced audience participation via online competitions, sharing amateur videos, and encouraging fans to send in questions during live interviews. Te reo and tikanga Māori featured heavily in the series, which showcased music videos, sports, pranks, interviews and travel around Aotearoa. Hosts over the five years the show was on air included Kimo Houltham, Candice Davis and Mai Time's Olly Coddington.