Stephen Stehlin is longstanding producer of Tagata Pasifika, TVNZ's magazine style show focusing on Pacific Islanders in New Zealand. Of Samoan descent, Stehlin has been honoured as both a Samoan matai chief, and as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
It’s an exciting time for Pacific Island people in Aotearoa because being Pacific gives us Kiwis an identity. Stephen Stehlin
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.
This series sees Kiwi-born chef Robert Oliver roving the Pacific, exploring local food culture, and looking to inspire tourist resorts to include indigenous cuisine traditions in their offerings. This opening episode of the second series sees Oliver return to where he grew up: Fiji. In Ra Province he buys local and goes bush (cress and prawns) and sea shopping (reef octopus and seaweed), to help Volivoli Beach Resort upgrade its menu from backpacker fare to upmarket local delicacies. The series was inspired by Oliver’s award-winning book Me’a Kai.
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’.
This 2010 series adapted the theatre comedy of Laughing Samoans Eteuati Ete and Tofiga Fepulea’i into a show on TV2, pairing sketches and interviews with excerpts from their stage show. In this opening episode Aunty Tala (Fepulea’i) receives a sign that a prospective husband is in Wellington and takes her niece Fai (Ete) to nab him. Their tour of the capital includes Te Papa, Cuba Street, The Backbencher Pub near Parliament, and Les Mills gym. Aunty Tala flirts with All Blacks Jerome Kaino and Ma’a Nonu, opera singer Ben Makisi, Prime Minister John Key and actor Robbie Magasiva.
In this 2010 Tagata Pasifika story, reporter Adrian Stevanon follows efforts by a group of PI mariners to preserve the traditions and skills of the great Polynesian voyagers — as an armada of canoes from the Cook Islands, Tahiti, Fiji and Aotearoa takes to the seas of Te Moananui a Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean). Stevanon has zero sailing hours when he joins the Pan-Pacific crew of Hine Moana in the Cook Islands, en route to Samoa. Unsure “if this city boy can handle the high seas”, he takes time to find his sea legs, but eventually gets on the foi (tiller) and into ‘vaka mode’.
Tagata Pasifika takes a look at Kiwi PI theatre phenomenon The Naked Samoans, and features extensive footage from a number of their stage comedies. Viewers will recognise early versions of a number of characters who would later feature on the Samoans' animated hit bro'Town. Co-founder Oscar Kightley talks about the group. AO-rated, the episode captures the non-PC island humour that would shape five seasons of bro'Town, and two Sione's Wedding feature films.
A Tagata Pasifika special looking at Pacific Islanders living in a Māori world. It celebrates the mingling of Polynesian cultures in Aotearoa through similarities (language, spirituality, land, extended family) and differences (clothes, food). Stories include: Samoan Beau Rasmussen who married Moana on the East Coast; Niuean Toa Luka who married a Māori woman from Northland; Tongan/Māori lawyer Kahungunu Afeaki and Whetu Fala, who grew up in Wanganui with a Samoan father and Māori mother.
Māori Battalion - March To Victory tells the story of the New Zealand Army's (28th) Māori Battalion, which fought in campaigns during World War ll. Director and writer Tainui Stephens sets out in the feature-length documentary to tell the stories of five men who served with the unit, and also "capture how they felt about it". Narration by actor George Henare, remembrances, visits to historic sites, archival footage, and graphic stills create a respectful and stirring screen testament to the men who fought in the Battalion. Stephens writes about the film in the backgrounder.
Directed by Tainui Stephens, this 1990 TVNZ series surveyed Māori contemporary music. This second episode looks at the showband era (1950s - 70s), when musicians mixed genres (electric guitar, rock’n’roll) with Māori culture, to make a unique contribution to Kiwi show business. Acts like The Howard Morrison Quartet, The Māori Volcanics, The Quin Tikis and The Māori Hi-Fives took songs from marae to international cabarets. Music historian Chris Bourke praised the series for marking the role of showbands in the whakapapa of entertainers from Billy T James to Rim D Paul.
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.
The annual interschool celebration of Māori and Pasifika dance began in 1976 at Hillary College in Otara. By the 21st Century, nearly 100,000 spectators and participants attended and it was sponsored by ASB. Over the years Polyfest was covered by both the news, and specialist shows like Tagata Pasifika and Marae. Full coverage was first taken on by Front of the Box Productions in the 2000s; later it went back to TVNZ's Māori and Pacific Programme section, followed by Tikilounge Productions. Coverage of the kapa haka stage was picked up by Māori Television.