Ray Waru has been a prolific television producer and director since the 1970s, specialising in Māori, heritage and historical programming. He established the first Māori production unit and has been involved in a range of ground-breaking, award-winning shows, while operating his own media company for over 20 years. In 2006 Waru was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for services to broadcasting.

He’s taken the essays by the directors and the historians and made them work on-screen. Vincent Burke praises Frontier of Dreams fellow producer Ray Waru - Onfilm, September 2005
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50 Years of New Zealand Television: 7 - Taonga TV

2010, Subject - Television

This edition in Prime’s television history series surveys Māori programming. Director Tainui Stephens pairs societal change (urbanisation, protest, cultural resurgence) with an increasing Māori presence in front of and behind the camera. Interviews with broadcasters are intercut with Māori screen content. The episode charts an evolution from Māori as exotic extras, via pioneering documentaries, drama and current affairs, to being an intrinsic part of Aotearoa’s screen landscape, with te reo used on national news, and Māori telling their own stories on Māori Television.

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The Town New Zealand Saved

2007, Director, Producer - Television

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Frontier of Dreams

2003 - 2004, Producer, Director - Television

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A Hell of a Ride

2001, Director, Producer - Television

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Kiri Māori

2000, Director, Producer - Television

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The Truth about Māori

2000, Executive Producer - Television

Māori of different ages and backgrounds talk frankly about their culture and how they feel they are perceived in this Inside New Zealand doco. Contributors include Pio Terei, Brian Tamaki, Carol Hirschfeld, Leilani Joyce and Tau Henare (who is unapologetic about his Dirty Dogs). By turns passionate, pointed and humorous, they discuss issues ranging from sex and food to teen pregnancy and prejudice. We also learn that rotten corn is not universally loved, staunchness is at best a dubious asset and not all Māori are blessed with singing ability. The Truth About Maori

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Our People Our Century

2000, Producer - Television

Our People Our Century was a documentary series from Ninox productions, that looked back over the past 100 years of New Zealand society as it turned over the millennium. Major events and changes over the century were shaped into six themed episodes: war, land, poverty and prosperity, families, state support and national identity, with apposite interviews providing personal and dramatic context. Our People Our Century won Best Factual Series at the 2000 NZ TV Awards, with Philip Temple winning a best documentary script award for the 'Families at War' episode.

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Our People Our Century - A Piece of Land

2000, Producer - Television

This Philip Temple-scripted episode of Our People, Our Century covers stories of New Zealanders and their turangawaewae: a piece of land they call their own. The importance of the land to farming families, and to the economy of NZ is explored through the eyes of three families. Elworthy Station in South Canterbury is being farmed by a 5th generation Elworthy. Two elderly ladies reminisce on their childhood in remote Mangapurua, near Raetihi in the central North Island. And a Māori family in Taranaki reflects on their decision to sell the family farm. 

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Our People Our Century - Being Kiwi

2000, Producer - Television

This episode of the six-part Our People, Our Century series explores the mix of cultures that Aotearoa-New Zealand has become. In these excerpts, a Chinese Kiwi family speaks of the racism they experienced, from the poll tax of the 1890s to their relative isolation — despite living in downtown Wellington. Artist Trevor Moffitt describes his father's “heavy silent disapproval” at his artwork; Moffitt went on receive acclaim for paintings that explore themes of New Zealand identity. Finally, mixed marriages between Māori and Pākehā shed some light on biculturalism.

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Our People Our Century - Cradle to Grave

2000, Producer - Television

This episode of the Kiwi social history series explores the importance of the ‘cradle to grave' beliefs about education, health and social welfare that have underpinned NZ governance since the 1930s. But radical reforms toward the end of the 20th century were more focused on individual opportunity than the wider social contract. Excerpts here use influential unionist James ‘Big Jim’ Roberts and generations of his family to chart social change. Written by feminist Sandra Coney, this episode also provides an overview of the monumental change in the lives of women.

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Our People Our Century - Families at War

2000, Producer - Television

New Zealand is a nation that has been scarred by war: from the horrendous loss of lives at Gallipoli to the decimation of the 28th Māori Battalion, Kiwis have gone to war in their 1000s, and many have not returned. This Our People, Our Century edition explores the experiences of soldiers, and the families who waited at home. It also examines the long tradition of protest against war, from the anti-Vietnam movement to the more recent anti-nuclear protests. The script by Philip Temple, won a best documentary script award at the 2000 NZ TV Guide Television awards. 

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Our People Our Century - In the Family Way

2000, Producer - Television

In this edition of the Kiwi social history series all things whānau are explored: a single mother who burnt the bills she couldn't pay; a man hurt by his father's inability to express emotion; and a gay Māori man lay their souls bare. This programme explores the changes in attitudes towards family life, marriage and children, from the restrictive early years of the century to more permissive times. The intersections between race, class and gender illuminate the personal stories, and put them in a social and historical context.

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Our People Our Century - Winning and Losing

2000, Producer - Television

Taking in depression and prosperity, this edition of the Kiwi social history series explores the boom and bust cycles of the economy. Stories include TJ Edmonds, of baking powder fame, who made his fortune by hawking his wares around Christchurch before opening his iconic factory. Factory workforces expanded, and with them unions. Worker dissatisfaction with pay and conditions led to the Queen Street riot of 1932, a defining moment in NZ history retold here by protest leader Jim Edwards' son. Edwards’ real estate agent granddaughter is also interviewed.

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Radicals

1997, Producer - Television

This 1997 Inside New Zealand documentary looks at the evolution of modern Māori political activism, from young 70s rebels Ngā Tamatoa, to Te Kawariki's protest at Waitangi Day in 1995. Directed by Paora Maxwell, it is framed around interviews with key figures (Syd Jackson, Hone Harawira, Ken Mair, Mike Smith, Annette Sykes, Eva Rickard, Joe Hawke). The interviewees explore events, and the kaupapa behind their activism, from thoughts on sovereignty, and the Treaty of Waitangi, through to symbolism (tree felling, land marches) and being kaitiaki of the environment. 

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Beth's World

1997, Producer - Television

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Māori - The Crisis and the Challenge

1994, Producer - Television

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Koha - Te Māori, a Cloak of Words

1984, Director - Television

This episode of Koha episode looks at the milestone Te Māori exhibition of Māori art. The exhibition toured the United States in 1984, opened up a world of Māori taonga to international audiences, and returned home to applause and swelling Māori pride. The episode features the powhiri at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, with future Māori Party co-leader Pita Sharples leading a kapa haka performance.  Koha - a weekly, 30 minute programme broadcast in English - was the first regular Māori programme shown in primetime, and provided a window into te ao Māori.  

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Koha - Hone Tuwhare

1981, Producer - Television

This 1981 Koha documentary, 'No Ordinary Bloke' — poet Hone Tuwhare — reflects on his life and influences in a wide-ranging interview by Selwyn Muru. He recites poems and is shown walking around his Dunedin haunts, where he was living at the time. Tuwhare recounts his early life as a railway workshop apprentice and tells of the workshop library that opened his eyes to the world. Later he’s shown with mate and artist Ralph Hotere and discusses, with emotion, the nature of Māori relationships with the land in light of the then-proposed Aramoana aluminium smelter.

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Titiro Mai

1980 - 1985, Director - Television

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Koha

1980 - 1985, Director, Producer - Television

Regular Māori programmes started on Television New Zealand in 1980 with Koha, a weekly, 30 minute programme broadcast in English. It explored everything from social problems, tribal history, natural history, about weaponry, to the preparation of food, canoe history, carvings and their meanings, language and how it changed through time. It was a window into te ao Māori for Pākekā, and provided a link to urban Māori estranged from their culture. It was the first regular Māori programme to be shown in prime time. 

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People Like Us

1978 - 1981, Director - Television

Screening in primetime at 6pm, People Like Us was built around exploring the spiritual and emotional aspects of people’s lives. Subjects ranged from interviews with leaders — religious and otherwise — to live events and the Red Cross. Mini seasons within the series were devoted to everything from menopause and breaking up, to cultural diversity (the latter fuelling a book as well). Producer Allison Webber managed to win funding from outside of state TV for some of these specials, and the show shared resources on occasion with RNZ’s former Continuing Education Unit.

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Fair Go

1977 - 1978, Director - Television

Popular consumer affairs show Fair Go is one of New Zealand TV's longest-running series. It began in 1977, devised by Brian Edwards and producer Peter Morritt. The TVNZ programme mixes investigative reporting (daring to "name names" and expose rip-off merchants everywhere) with light-hearted segments. Its roster of presenters has included Edwards, Judith Fyfe, Hugo Manson, Philip Alpers, Kerre McIvor (nee Woodham), Carol Hirschfeld, Gordon Harcourt, and longest serving host, Kevin Milne. A perennial favourite segment is the round-up of the year's ad campaigns.  

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Country Calendar

1977 - 1978, Director - Television

The iconic all-things-rural show is the longest running programme on New Zealand television. With its typical patient observational style (that allows stories of people and the land to gently unfold) it’s an unlikely broadcasting star, but New Zealanders continue, after 50 plus years, to tune in. Amongst the bucolic tales of farming, fishing and forestry, there are high country musters, floods, organic brewing, falconry, tobacco farming, as well as a fencing wire-playing farmer-musician, a radio-controlled dog, and Fred Dagg and the Trevs.