Writer, Director [Ngai Tūhoe, Te Arawa]
Helping friend Niki Caro on her film Whale Rider prompted Māori artist Tim Worrall to focus his energies into the screen industry. Worrall returned to university to study scriptwriting in Wellington, after giving feedback on the script for Caro's hit movie. Since finishing his Master of Arts in 2007, Worrall has gone on to write and direct award-winning short Tits on a Bull, direct on comedy show Only in Aotearoa and write for teen drama This is Piki. He has also written and co-directed two Loading Doc short documentaries: The Road to Whakarae and Kōtuku Rerenga Rua. His 2017 short film Meke starred Temuera Morrison.
It was clear to me that my main inspiration in my creative life was my Tūhoe side. Tim Worrall on moving to the Bay of Plenty, after finishing art school
Kōtuku Rerenga Rua (the second flight of the heron) explores the impact of a near-death experience on Kōtuku Tibble. The teacher and media personality (from te teo Rugby World Cup commentator, to running language lessons on TV show Pūkana) talks about being reborn as the husband, father and leader he believes he is destined to be. Co-directed by Tim Worrall and Aaron Smart (The Road to Whakarae), the short documentary was made in te reo Māori for web series Loading Docs. Sadly Kõtuku Tibble died in his sleep, a few months after Kōtuku Rerenga Rua was completed.
Described by co-creator Jamaine Ross as a sketch show "told from a brown perspective", this Māori Television series pokes the taiaha into life in Aotearoa. Hosted by improv trio Frickin Dangerous Bro – Ross (Māori), Pax Assadi (Persian) and James Roque (Filipino) – the show adds a multicultural 21st Century update to the skit traditions of Billy T James and Pete and Pio. This first episode mines comedy from white people, brown mums, hangi, sports reporting, subtitles, service station staff, and sat nav. NZ Herald’s Gracie Taylor called it "smart, funny, relevant and insanely relatable".
This 2016 Māori Television series mixes history and the action stylings of 300, The Dead Lands and kung fu movies, to dramatise pre-Pākehā Māori martial arts and those who practised them. As the publicity put it: "ancient heroes of yesteryear, re-discovered, re-examined and re-imagined". The anthology series was created by Rangi Rangitukunoa, and choreographed by kapa haka champ Wetini Mitai-Ngātai. Nine 30-minute episodes were made. Kairākau was praised by Duncan Greive on website The Spinoff, for evoking "a pre-colonial New Zealand in a convincing and evocative style."
Snapchat meets kapa haka in this acclaimed 2016 Māori Television series. Co-created by actor Cliff Curtis, the Rotorua-set drama follows Piki Johnson (Hinerauwhiri Paki) as she negotiates being a teenager. The cast mixed rangatahi and screen veterans (eg Temuera Morrison). Scriptwriters included Briar Grace-Smith and Victor Rodger. Eight 30-minute episodes were made by the team behind hit show Find Me a Māori Bride. Director Kiel McNaughton told The Spinoff: "what we were trying to achieve was the first soap drama from a Māori perspective."
This award-winning short revolves around a Māori women’s rugby team. Rising star Phoenix (newcomer Ngawaea Taia) has to negotiate motherhood, her mateship with the crusty old coach (veteran Roy Billing), and her feelings for the captain (Maria Walker). Directed by Tim Worrall, and filmed in his Rotorua hometown, the short was one of six selected by director Christine Jeffs for 'New Zealand’s Best' at the 2015 NZ International Film Festival. Jeffs praised the film as "realistic and full of feeling". Worrall won Best Short Script at the 2015 SWANZ (NZ Writers Guild) Awards.
Only in Aotearoa began as a 2015 webseries, one of the first fruits of a joint fund for Māori web content, created by organisations NZ On Air and Te Māngai Pāho. In 2017 it became a sketch comedy show on Māori Television. Hosted by multi-cultural comedy trio Frickin Dangerous Bro, the show satirises 21st Century Aotearoa life from a brown perspective. The cast includes Tammy Davis (Outrageous Fortune), Coco Solid (also a writer on the show), Tia Maipi (Born To Dance) and ex league player Wairangi Koopu. Only in Aotearoa was produced by company Kura Productions.
Short film The Road to Whakarae is built around a special place, and a special song. Keen to celebrate home and the joyful aspects of the Tūhoe people, local filmmaker/artist Tim Worrall and cousin Aaron Smart (whose wife is from the area) crafted a love letter to the Waimana Valley, by expanding an old Tūhoe party song about “a windy, dusty road” and inviting various locals to sing a section each. Made for online viewing as part of the Loading Docs series, the film starts with local musician and kaumātua Beam Titoko on guitar — and ends with a kiss at the marae.
Fresh is a popular TVNZ youth show with a focus on Pasifika arts, culture, events and sport. Since 2011 its “Poly-platter” of pacific flavours has ranged from singer Ria Hall and sports star Sonny Bill Williams, to Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa and hip hop choreographer Parris Goebel. It screens on Saturday mornings on TV2. Fresh regulars have included Robbie Magasiva, Samoan 'sisters' Pani and Pani, and the Fresh Housewives. The show is produced by Tiki Lounge Productions, the team behind online PI social network Coconet.tv.
Created by Gavin Strawhan and Rachel Lang, Jackson’s Wharf was set in a fictional coastal town and revolved around a sibling rivalry between brothers Frank (the town cop) and Ben Jackson (a big smoke lawyer). Returning with his family, golden boy Ben has controversially inherited the local pub from his recently deceased father. Produced by South Pacific Pictures, the one hour popular drama screened for two seasons. Writer James Griffin and director Niki Caro worked on the show, alongside much of the talent who would later create Mercy Peak and Outrageous Fortune.
Debuting on TV Four as Tūmeke in 1999, children's show Pūkana was pioneering in its use of te reo. Given a new title when it moved to TV3 in its second year, it later began an epic run on Māori Television. Taking contemporary kids' culture cues, Pūkana features game shows, send-ups, talent quests and music. It emphasises ‘street’ rather than marae-style language. Made by company Cinco Cine, it has won three awards for best show in its category, and two nominations for children’s programme. Past presenters include Mātai Smith, Quinton Hita and Te Hamua Nikora.
Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an inner city Auckland hospital. The long-running South Pacific Pictures production is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week. In 2017 the show was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary, making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture — starting with “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!” in the very first episode. Mihi Murray writes about Shortland Street here.