Actor, Musician [Ngai Tāmanuhiri, Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa]
Maaka Pohatu was an established theatre actor (Strange Resting Places, The Māori Troilus and Cressida) before making his big screen debut as hapless flatmate to Bret McKenzie's character, in Two Little Boys (2012). Alongside three fellow Toi Whakaari graduates, he was a founding member of The Modern Māori Quartet. They were the house band on Temuera Morrison variety show Happy Hour and in 2017 began hosting their own Māori TV singalong show, My Party Song. Pohatu played Dalvanius Prime in acclaimed feature documentary Poi E. In 2016, he was outspoken in raising awareness of male mental health.
Pohatu's Gav is a fantastic creation ... Pohatu ballasts the story, lends it some pathos, and at the same time sends up every poetry scribbling dolphin hugger you've ever met. Reviewer Graeme Tuckett on Maaka Pohatu in movie Two Little Boys, The Dominion Post, 21 September 2012
This Māori Television series aimed to celebrate Aotearoa’s "favourite party songs", through showband renditions led by the Modern Māori Quartet. Inspired by the great Kiwi garage party, each week the quartet (Francis Kora, Maaka Pohatu, Matariki Whatarau and James Tito) host special guests — some famous, some not — who are invited to perform their favourite track. They include Temuera Morrison, Tina Cross, Ria Hall, Jan Hellriegel and Troy Kingi. The members of the "Māori rat pack" met at drama school Toi Whakaari. They were the houseband on short-lived variety series Happy Hour.
Pull up a chair and grab your guitar; the Modern Māori Quartet — aka musicians Francis Kora, James Tito, Maaka Pohatu and Matariki Whatarau — are here to reinvigorate a clutch of classic Māori party tunes, helped along by a guest list of young and old. With their laidback style the boys trade jokes and memories, and older generations share the songs that make a room sing. This episode also features a new and improved version of 'Ten Guitars', some seriously sharp suits, and a roof-lifting performance from cultural group Te Waka Huia.
Poi E: The Story of Our Song tells the story behind one of New Zealand’s most iconic pop songs. Led by Dalvanius Prime, the Patea Māori Club single was released soon after the closure of the town’s freezing works. Conquering disinterest from record labels and radio, Poi E became New Zealand's highest selling single in 1984. Written and directed by Tearepa Kahi (Mt Zion), the "warm, funny, touching" documentary (NZ Herald) features interviews with those involved, and famous fans (eg Taika Waititi). Poi E won applause after premiering at the opening of the 2016 Auckland Film Festival.
Directed by Robert Sarkies (Scarfies, Out of the Blue), and written with brother Duncan (from the latter's novel) Two Little Boys is a tale of the misadventures of two Invercargill bogans. When a Scandinavian tourist fatally meets Nige's fender, Nige (Conchord Bret McKenzie) runs to best mate Deano (Aussie comedian Hamish Blake) for help. "Trouble is, Deano's not really the guy you should turn to in a crisis." Mateship is challenged by security guard flatmate Gav, a rogue sea lion and some dunderhead decision making. The black comedy opened in NZ on Sept 20 2012.
Bad Dates peeks into a fictional evening of speed dating; those evenings where singles meet prospective partners on fast-rotation. This quick-paced short turns the idea into tragi-comedy, where, in the vital opening bouts of small-talk, a series of prospective relationships go down in flames before they've even begun. Writer/director Grant LaHood democratically gives equal screen time amongst the ensemble cast (made up of graduating students from Toi Whakaari) and to a range of idiosyncrasies ranging from the infantile to the sex-obsessed.