Veteran Tagata Pasifika producer/reporter John Utanga has interviewed prime ministers, and covered everything from vaka voyaging to Polyfest. Born and bred in Rarotonga, Utanga studied journalism at Auckland University and started as a reporter in print before transferring to television in 1994. Utanga co-founded the Pacific Islands Media Association, has chaired Auckland University of Technology’s Pacific Media Centre, and in 2015 completed the Taupo Ironman. He is now one of the partners in company SunPix, which took over production of Tagata Pasifika in 2015, from TVNZ.
I don’t see myself as a role model, I see myself as a journalist who works in a high-profile medium. However, in this job, I’m aware that many people see me differently – particularly Cook Islanders – and I can respect that, even though I’m uncomfortable with the notion of being a 'role model'. John Utanga on undergoing a weight loss regime in front of the camera for 'Walk the Talk', a Tagata Pasifika special report
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.
ASB Polyfest 2008 is an action-packed showcase of Māori and Pacific youth competing in the annual schools' cultural festival in South Auckland. Māori, Tonga, Samoa, Niue and Cook Islands performances, 100,000 people and trophies to be won make this competitive event one of the most important dates for youth in Auckland. Behind the scenes footage, colourful costumes, trials and tribulations and "the Pacific way" are captured. Made by the Tagata Pasifika team, with directors including Naked Samoans Shimpal Lelisi and Mario Gaoa.
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.
Featuring extensive footage from their live shows, this episode of Tagata Pasifika explores comedy phenomenon The Naked Samoans. The performances include early versions of characters who later featured on animated hit bro'Town. Co-founder Oscar Kightley talks about the group's "licorice allsorts" cultural makeup, and how prejudice is not the same as racism. Featuring some moments of comical censorship via a voice off-screen, the episode captures the often raw, non-PC island humour that would filter into five seasons of bro'Town, and two Sione's Wedding movies.
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 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.