Actor [Nga Puhi, Ngai Tuhoe]
After studying acting in Whangarei, Rob Mokaraka won a Best Newcomer Champman Tripp acting award for 2001 play Have Car, Will Travel. On screen he was part of the ensemble cast in acclaimed Māori Battalion tale Tama Tu, and Paolo Rotondo-directed short The Freezer. Mokaraka and Rotondo would later collaborate on award-winning play Strange Resting Places, a tale of Māori and Italian bonds during World War ll.
Strange Resting Places takes the lost stories of small people caught up in war, and magnifies their tragedies with respect and a smile. The Guardian’s Lyn Gardner, reviewing Rob Mokaraka and Paolo Rotondo’s play Strange Resting Places
Jackie van Beek directed and starred in this 2014 short film, playing a tramper who finds her solitude interrupted in a Southern Alps hut. The short was filmed in Arthur’s Pass, where van Beek spent time climbing and exploring near her family crib, while growing up. Uphill won Best Film at an international showcase for organisation Women in Film and Television International; van Beek also won Best Actor at Kiwi festival Show Me Shorts. She would collaborate again with producer Aaron Watson on her feature directing debut, 2017 drama The Inland Road.
Six Māori Battalion soldiers camped in Italian ruins wait for night to fall. In the silence, the bros-in-arms distract themselves with jokes. A tohu (sign) brings them back to reality, and they gather to say a karakia before returning to the fray. Director Taika Waititi describes the soldiers as young men with "a special bond, strengthened by their character, their culture and each other." Shot in the rubble of the old Wellington Hospital, Tama Tū won international acclaim. Invited to over 40 international festivals, its many awards included honourable mentions at Sundance and Berlin.
Described as a "Māori Twilight Zone", Mataku was a series of half-hour dramatic narratives steeped in Māori experience with the "unexplained". Two South Pacific Pictures-produced series screened on TV3; a later series screened on TV One in 2005. Each episode was introduced by Temuera Morrison Rod Serling-style. The bi-lingual series was a strong international and domestic success; producer Carey Carter: "Our people are very spiritual ... and here we are ... turning it into stories so that the rest of the world can get a glimpse of that aspect of our culture."