Nikki Si’ulepa won acclaim after starring in 1996 movie The Whole of the Moon, as a Samoan street kid in love. There have been further screen roles, but Si'ulepa is more active behind the scenes. Alongside reporting, filming and directing for Pacific show Tagata Pasifika, she wrote Pacific fallout tale Snow in Paradise, co-directing it with Justine Simei-Barton. The short film was invited to 11 festivals, including Tribeca and Berlin. She also helmed shorts Ma and Aroha, and hosted a 2017 episode of Neighbourhood. In 2016 she began co-starring Pot Luck, which was promoted as Aotearoa's first lesbian webseries.
[Director Ian Mune’s] discovery of Nikki Si’ulepa, in Mune’s words a ‘very rare talent’, must have been very good for morale. She dominates the camera and the action with a natural authority. Rick Bryant in Metro magazine, reviewing 1996 movie The Whole of the Moon
Writer/director Tusi Tamasese won multiple awards for his first feature, the Samoan-set The Orator - O Le Tulafale. This New Zealand-set follow-up involves a Samoan father whose daughter Ilisa returns home, pregnant and badly beaten. In her movie debut, Frankie Adams (Shortland Street) plays Ilisa, and Uelese Petaia (star of Albert Wendt adaptation Sons for the Return Home) is the boxer turned baker, in a tale of family, revenge and redemption. One Thousand Ropes debuted in the Panorama section of the 2017 Berlin Film Festival, before opening in NZ and Samoa in March.
This entry in 2015 short film omnibus K' Rd Stories is billed as a “love story that’s not as simple as boy meets girl”. Directed by the multi-talented Nikki Si’Ulepa (Snow in Paradise), Aroha begins with Jade (played by K’ Rd denizen and Takatāpui presenter Ramon Te Wake) being stood up at a bar on the iconic strip. Jade’s spirits are lifted by an especially optimistic bartender (Hans Masoe), who muses about aroha, honesty and being open to experience — “I think he chickened out because he’s afraid of love”. But is the bartender’s advice too good to be true?
Described as “bloody brilliant” by horror legend Peter Jackson, Housebound follows a woman dealing with the triple threats of house arrest, potential ghosts, and having to live with her mother. Morgana O’Reilly (TV movie Safe House) is the criminal facing eight months home detention with an annoying Mum (Rima Te Wiata). Jaquie Brown Diaries director Gerard Johnstone’s film debut won near universal praise, and the remake rights sold to New Line in the US. Fangoria loved its mixture of "fantastic comedy" and mystery and it was nominated for ten Moas, including Best Film.
This long-running factual series aims to celebrate "what diversity really means for all New Zealanders", by exploring the people and culture of Kiwi neighbourhoods. Four stories per episode are presented by a personality with links to the 'hood. The hosts include actors Madeleine Sami, Shimpal Lelisi and Yoson An, musicians King Kapisi and Tami Neilson, tennis player Marina Erakovic and designer Sean Kelly. Made by Satellite Media for TVNZ, six seasons had been made up to 2018. Neighbourhood was nominated for Best Information Series at the 2012 NZ Television Awards.
Former pop singer Ngaire Fuata grew up in Whakatane thinking she was Māori. Her father Fu, from the tiny Pacific island of Rotuma — population 2000 — had long given up explaining where it was (even to his Dutch wife Marion). In this Tagata Pasifika documentary, Ngaire’s beloved father takes ill, so she visits his birthplace with her eight-year-old daughter Ruby. One flight to Nadi, a drive to Suva and a three-day boat ride later, they reach the island during the magical Fara season. Salat marked the documentary directing debut of Whole of the Moon actor Nikki Si'ulepa.
It’s Samoan Language Week and Tom Natoealofa says “Talofa!” to kick off Tagata Pasifika's coverage of the 2011 Polynesian Blue Pacific Music Awards. Natoealofa co-hosts with Angela Tiatia, from the TelstraClear Pacific (now Vodafone) Events Centre in Manukau. The awards honour everything from gospel to urban. Nesian Mystik take out a trifecta including the big one, and Ladi 6 collects a brace. In the last clip Annie Crummer picks up a Lifetime Achievement gong, and the Ponsonby Methodist Church Choir perform her song ‘See What Love Can Do’.
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.
Hosts Olly Coddington, Gabrielle Paringatai and Candice Davis front this TVNZ youth series from the era of Bebo and Obama. The series flavours youth TV fare (music videos, sport, online competitions) with reo and tikanga. This final episode from the show’s first year is set around a roof party on top of Auckland’s TVNZ HQ. Hip hop dance crews, Shortland Street stars and DJs are mixed with clips of the year’s 'best of' moments: field reports (from robot te reo to toilet advice and office Olympics) and special guests (from rapper Savage to actor Te Kohe Tuhaka playing Scrabble).
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.
Teen actors Nikki Si'ulepa and Toby Fisher won acclaim in Ian Mune's fourth feature as director. Si'ulepa plays a Samoan street kid who meets a well-off white teen, when both are facing mortality in a hospital ward. The co-production between NZ and Canada (where it debuted on cable TV) won over critics in both nations. "Si'ulepa dominates the camera and the action with a natural authority", raved Metro. Moon scooped the gongs at the 1996 TV Guide Awards (including for originating screenwriter Richard Lymposs); and won notice at Berlin and Giffoni film festivals.
Tala Pasifika was a pioneering Pacific Island drama series produced by He Taonga Films and mentored by Ruth Kaupua and the late Don Selwyn. NZ On Air and the NZ Film Commission backed the project. Of eight short dramas; the first six screened on TV One as part of Tagata Pasifika in 1996 and another two screened in 1999. Seen as an opportunity to extend the cultural diversity of local TV drama, it was the first drama series dedicated to Samoan culture in NZ and a showcase for emerging Samoan screenwriters, directors and actors.
A 'waka huia' is traditionally a treasure box to hold the revered huia feather. Waka Huia the TV series records and preserves Māori culture and customs and is presented completely in Te Reo Māori. The long-running series travels extensively to retell tribal histories, and sets a high standard of reo, seeking to interview only fluent speakers. Waka Huia also covers some of the social and political concerns of the day, taking a snapshot of Māori history. Created by Whai Ngata, Waka Huia is a tāonga for future generations.
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.