Toi Whakaari acting graduate Francis Kora has a passion for telling Aotearoa stories through music, theatre and the screen. Kora starred in 2013 movie The Pā Boys. He wrote new songs while traveling for the filming of Pā Boys, many of which made the final cut. Kora is a longtime vocalist and bass guitarist in popular band Kora, and co-hosts Māori Television's My Party Song as part of The Modern Māori Quartet. Kora played war hero John Pohe in 2008 documentary Turangaarere: The John Pohe Story. He also acted in telemovie Aftershock and short film Warbrick, and has presented for TV's Code and The Gravy.
It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I've done some pretty cool things but this was one of the highlights. Francis Kora on filming The Pā Boys, in the NZ Herald, 2 February 2014
Funny As traces the history of New Zealand comedy through archive footage, and extensive interviews with local comedy talent. Debuting on TVNZ 1 in July 2019, the five-part series explores how Kiwis "have used comedy to navigate decades of profound cultural change". Funny As touches on everything from live and musical comedy, to pioneers of Kiwi screen humour (e.g. Fred Dagg, Lynn of Tawa) and the hit exports of later years (Flight of the Conchords, Rose Matafeo). The series was made by production/creative agency Augusto, and produced by comedy veteran Paul Horan.
This Māori Television series aimed to celebrate Aotearoa’s "favourite party songs", through showband renditions led by the Modern Māori Quartet. Inspired by the great Kiwi garage party, each week the quartet (Francis Kora, Maaka Pohatu, Matariki Whatarau and James Tito) host special guests — some famous, some not — who are invited to perform their favourite track. They include Temuera Morrison, Tina Cross, Ria Hall, Jan Hellriegel and Troy Kingi. The members of the "Māori rat pack" met at drama school Toi Whakaari. They were the houseband on short-lived variety series Happy Hour.
Pull up a chair and grab your guitar; the Modern Māori Quartet — aka musicians Francis Kora, James Tito, Maaka Pohatu and Matariki Whatarau — are here to reinvigorate a clutch of classic Māori party tunes, helped along by a guest list of young and old. With their laidback style the boys trade jokes and memories, and older generations share the songs that make a room sing. This episode also features a new and improved version of 'Ten Guitars', some seriously sharp suits, and a roof-lifting performance from cultural group Te Waka Huia.
The first Matariki awards recognise Māori achievers across everything from sport, to academia, to business. The audience pay special tribute to Scotty Morrison, the IronMāori team, and All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder. Nominated for the Waipuna-ā-Rangi Award for excellence in art and entertainment are Stan Walker, Cliff Curtis and artist Lisa Reihana; one of the trio will later score the night's supreme award. Musical guests Ria Hall and The Modern Māori Quartet combine to enliven 'Ten Guitars'. The awards were presented on behalf of Te Puni Kōkiri and Māori Television.
As the poster puts it, The Pā Boys is "about 'life, death and fu**ing good music'. It follows a Wellington band playing East Coast and Northland pubs, as they head for Cape Reinga. The trio find themselves on a roots journey that's both musical and personal (mateship, whānau, whakapapa). The cast includes singer Francis Kora, with songs by Warren Maxwell. Released in Kiwi cinemas on Waitangi Day 2014, Himiona Grace's first feature won positive reviews, and a Best Film gong at the 2014 Wairoa Māori Film Festival. Ainsley Gardiner (Boy) and Mina Mathieson (Warbrick) produced.
This short follows Joe Warbrick (Calvin Tuteao, from Nights in the Gardens of Spain), captain of the New Zealand Natives rugby team, as he tries to rouse his battle-weary players to head unto the breach once more, for a test against England. It’s midwinter during the trailblazing, 17 month long 1888-89 tour which left a black jersey legacy. In a changing room that resembles a casualty ward, Warbrick draws breath and leads a stirring haka. Made by brothers Pere and Meihana Durie, Warbrick inspired the All Blacks the day before they demolished Australia by 33-6 in 2009.
Porokoru Patapu (John) Pohe was the first Māori pilot in the RNZAF. Nicknamed 'Lucky Johnny', he was a WWII hero who flew an amazing 22 missions, was involved in the legendary 'Great Escape' from Stalag Luft III, and insisted on removing his blindfold when he faced a German firing squad. This award-winning docu-drama tells Pohe's extraordinary life story. When it screened on Māori Television, Listener reviewer Diana Wichtel called it "a terrific yarn", and it won Best Documentary Aotearoa at the 2008 Wairoa Māori Film Festival Awards. Actor/singer Francis Kora plays Pohe.
This award-winning telefilm imagines the effects of a major earthquake on New Zealand’s capital city, and how its citizens react to chaos, death, isolation and tsunami. It was completed in 2008 — before Christchurch took Wellington’s mantle as NZ's shakiest city, and made Aftershock's imagined scenes a reality. Aftershock was produced for TV3 by The Gibson Group, and written by veteran screenwriter Graeme Tetley (Out of the Blue, Vigil). The following week saw the debut of Aftershock - Would You Survive?, which put a real-life family through a three-day survival test.
Hosted by Francis Kora, this episode of The Gravy is the story of musician and anti-apartheid activist Tigilau (Tigi) Ness, who during the 1970s joined the Polynesian Panthers movement in Auckland. Tigi Ness, the father of hip hop musician Che Fu, recalls his childhood in central Auckland and troubled times with the 1974 dawn raids and protests during the 1981 Springbok rugby tour for which he served nine months in prison. The episode also tells the story of his musical life in reggae bands such as Unity Pacific. Animated segment The Truth takes a look at lambs.
This long-running, hour-long Māori Television sports show saw presenters and sports stars korero in front of a studio audience. The show won a cult audience thanks to its easy-going style, mixing studio action (music, demonstrations) with light-hearted field shoots (eg Brofessionals). Catchphrase "Mean Māori Mean" entered the culture. Ringleaders included Jenny-May Clarkson (née Coffin), Wairangi Koopu, and Liam Meesam, and superstars like Sonny Bill Williams relaxed on the Code couch. The show won Best Sports Programme at the 2007 Air New Zealand Screen Awards.
Roots reggae act Kora present this Living Room episode from the beach at Whakatāne — hometown for the four Queenstown-based brothers. Then ex-Mental As Anything guitarist Reg Mombassa (born in Auckland as Chris O'Doherty) talks from Sydney about his iconic artworks for Mambo — including the notorious Australian Jesus series — and wonders if he's turning into a blowfly. Finally there’s a profile of outsider artist Martin Thompson, whose painstaking mathematically-based work has travelled from Wellington community workshops to Wallpaper* magazine.