After starting her reporting career in radio, Sandra Kailahi switched to television and worked on Pacific magazine show Tagata Pasifika. The Tongan-German spent 11 years reporting for the long-running series, before moving to Fair Go for three years. Kailahi went on to produce Te Karere and One News, plus read the news on channel TVNZ 7. In 2017 she turned her hand to film producing, with short film The Messiah. Two years later her first feature, documentary For My Father's Kingdom, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. The Porirua local was appointed to the board of the NZ Film Commission in March 2019. 

…it just means that we [Pacific Islanders] are now at the table and we can bring our voice to the table, and we can look at that and really amplify and uplift our voices, our stories, and that's what I'm really excited about. Sandra Kailahi, interviewed on Radio 531 PI about her appointment to the board of the NZ Film Commission, 7 March 2019

For My Father's Kingdom

2019, Producer - Film

The Messiah

2017, Producer - Short Film

Tagata Pasifika - 7 March 2015

2015, Reporter - Television

In this March 2015 episode of long-running magazine-style show Tagata Pasifika, Sandra Kailahi explores the factors that lead some young pasifika mothers to abandon their newborns. Then hosts Marama T-Pole and Tom Natoealofa interview actor Teuila Blakely, who had her son at 17, about what it was like being a teenage mother, and what needs to change to support others in that situation. Also featured are stories about the Samoan King’s son converting to the Mormon faith, and allegations New Zealand has been conducting surveillance on its Pacific neighbours.

Tagata Pasifika - Second Migration

2015, Reporter - Television

The 60s and 70s saw an influx of Pacific Island migrants to New Zealand. This 2015 Tagata Pasifika special looks at the children and grandchildren of those adventurers, who are part of a “second migration” — from Aotearoa to Australia. Reporter Sandra Kailahi talks to families about the reasons why they made “the jump” (education, jobs, opportunity, “a better life than what I had in South Auckland”); the challenges they faced (contract work, floods, racism); the trade-offs (lack of community and culture) — and why some chose to come back ‘home’ to New Zealand. 

TVNZ 7 News

2008 - 2012, Newsreader, Producer

Fair Go - 30 Years on Television

2007, Reporter - Television

Popular consumer affairs show Fair Go is one of New Zealand TV's longest-running series. This episode — presented by its longest serving host, Kevin Milne — looks back at 30 years and 860+ shows of Fair Go. Amidst regular Fair Go stories, there is a flashback to the 1977 debut of original host Brian Edwards; retro segments on soapbox rights in Christchurch Square, blocked gutters, and neighbours at war; a 1982 spoof on the struggle to open screw tops on soft drink bottles; and a 1980 survey of NZ's most untrustworthy occupations (lawyers, car dealers).   Contact Fair Go here.

Fair Go - Episode 30 (2007)

2007, Reporter - Television

Popular consumer affairs show Fair Go is one of New Zealand TV's longest-running series. In this episode reporter Phil Vine investigates Pure Air Ventilation: a "slippery snake" with a string of unhappy customers from Thames to Tokoroa. As burnt customer Belinda Muir says "I hate being taken for an idiot!" A showdown with the touters ensues. There's a classic spoof from the Fair Go archives, looking at "lawn aerator sandals" and featuring Helen Clark, Peter Dunne, Ed Hillary and Spiderman endorsing the jandals-meets-crampons product.   Contact Fair Go here.

Tagata Pasifika - 20th Anniversary Special

2007, Presenter - Television

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.

Daughters of the Pacific

2005, Narrator - Television

This 2005 documentary tells the story of four New Zealand-born women whose parents come from villages in Samoa, Tonga and Niue. Social worker and photographer Emily Mafile'o, students and mothers Pule Puletaua and Lanni Liuvaie, and playwright Louise Tu’u face the challenges of combining two cultures to forge an identity in Aotearoa — from family, language, food and religion, to flatting and hair cutting rituals. As narrator Sandra Kailali says, "to be true to both is hard work: success in one often comes at a cost to the other." 

Tala Pasifika - Malama

1995, As: Miss Sapati - Television

Tala Pasifika was a pioneering Pacific Island drama series; this episode is one of six films that screened on TV One in 1996. It is about Malama (Saili Williams), a young girl who lost her eyesight in the car crash that also killed her mother. Although she can't see in the physical world, Malama has gained a window to the spirit world. Her father Ta'a (a young Jay Laga'aia) still grieves and can't cope with raising the kids; his frustrations manifest as anger. When Malama and her brother attend their baptism, the family crisis hits boiling point.

Tagata Pasifika

2010 - 2016, Director, Reporter - Television

Tagata Pasifika is a magazine-style show with items and interviews focusing on Pacific Island communities in Aotearoa. Debuting on 4 April 1987, it features coverage of Pacific Island cultural events like the Pasifika festival, plus longer documentaries. It is the only show focusing on PIs on mainstream New Zealand television. After TVNZ announced that its Māori Maori and Pacific shows would no longer be made in-house, Tagata Pasifika veterans Stephen Stehlin, Ngaire Fuata and John Utanga took over production in 2015 through their company SunPix. Website TP+ launched in 2018.

Te Karere

2013 - 2014, Planning Producer - Television

Te Karere is a long-running daily news programme in te reo Māori. Based in the TVNZ newsroom, Te Karere covers key events and stories in the Māori world as well as bringing a Māori perspective to the day's news. Significant for pioneering Māori news on mainstream TV, for three decades it has been a platform for Māori to comment on issues and events. Founded by Derek Fox, it first went to air during Māori Language Week in 1982, before getting its own regular slot the folowing year. Te Karere initially ran for only four minutes, then 15; in 2009 it was expanded to half an hour.

Fair Go

2005 - 2008, Reporter - 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.  

TV One News

2014 - 2015, Producer - Television

In 1975 TV One launched with a flagship 6.30 news bulletin which went largely unchanged with the move to TVNZ in 1980. In a 1987 revamp, it became the Network News with dual newsreaders Judy Bailey and Neil Billington (replaced by Richard Long). In 1988, the half hour programme moved to 6pm. With the advent of TV3 in late 1989, it was rebranded One Network News; and, from 1995, extended to an hour. The ill-fated replacing of Long with John Hawkesby in 1999 saw it make headlines rather than report them. In 1999, there was another name change to One News.