Actor, Musician [Ngai Tāmanuhiri, Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa]
Maaka Pohatu was an established theatre actor (Strange Resting Places, The Māori Troilus and Cressida) before making his movie debut as hapless flatmate to Bret McKenzie's character, in 2012's Two Little Boys. Pohatu went on to play a sergeant battling the supernatural, in hit comedy series Wellington Paranormal. Alongside three fellow Toi Whakaari graduates, he was a founding member of The Modern Māori Quartet. They were the house band on Temuera Morrison variety show Happy Hour, then hosted their own show on Māori Television, My Party Song. Pohatu played Dalvanius Prime in acclaimed documentary Poi E.
Pohatu's Gav is a fantastic creation ... Pohatu ballasts the story, lends it some pathos, and at the same time sends up every poetry scribbling dolphin hugger you've ever met. Reviewer Graeme Tuckett on Maaka Pohatu in movie Two Little Boys, The Dominion Post, 21 September 2012
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 hit TV series was spawned from big screen mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows (2014). After stumbling across the vampiric goings-on of the original movie, dim-witted police officers Minogue (Mike Minogue) and O'Leary (Karen O'Leary) are enlisted by a paranormal obsessed sergeant (Maaka Pohatu from The Modern Māori Quartet) to investigate unusual events— from cows up trees, to werewolves and zombie cops. Six episodes debuted on TVNZ 2 in 2018; four were directed by Shadows co-creator Jemaine Clement. A second season of 13 episodes is set to follow.
Wellington Paranormal was dubbed 'Police Ten 7 meets The X-Files' . These excerpts from episodes three and five of the first season demonstrate the show's mix of deadpan commentary with (sometimes) mysterious subject matter. Officers O'Leary (played by Karen O'Leary) and Minogue (Mike Minogue) deal with two call outs. A report of a pale, translucent figure floating 'airily' around a Lower Hutt car park is the definition of an 'open and shut 'case, but a stake out in a supposedly haunted house isn't so straightforward. Officer Minogue's enthusiasm for tasers comes a cropper too.
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.
With web series The Watercooler, the audience provides the stories (by submitting them online). Each episode sees true tales reenacted, as far-fetched yarns get shared over the office watercooler. The stories range widely, from a nurse engaging in an ill-fated arm-wrestle with a patient, to trouble with “urinal politics”. The Watercooler was created by actor Mike Minogue, who also appears in a number of episodes. The cast features Cohen Holloway, Jonathan Brugh and Abby Damen. For the second season, Minogue's Wellington Paranormal co-star Karen O’Leary was added to the mix.
Poi E: The Story of Our Song tells the story behind one of New Zealand’s most iconic pop songs. Led by Dalvanius Prime, the Patea Māori Club single was released soon after the closure of the town’s freezing works. Conquering disinterest from record labels and radio, Poi E became New Zealand's highest selling single in 1984. Written and directed by Tearepa Kahi (Mt Zion), the "warm, funny, touching" documentary (NZ Herald) features interviews with those involved, and famous fans (eg Taika Waititi). Poi E won applause after premiering at the opening of the 2016 Auckland Film Festival.
Directed by Robert Sarkies (Scarfies, Out of the Blue), and written with brother Duncan (from the latter's novel) Two Little Boys is a tale of the misadventures of two Invercargill bogans. When a Scandinavian tourist fatally meets Nige's fender, Nige (Conchord Bret McKenzie) runs to best mate Deano (Aussie comedian Hamish Blake) for help. "Trouble is, Deano's not really the guy you should turn to in a crisis." Mateship is challenged by security guard flatmate Gav, a rogue sea lion and some dunderhead decision making. The black comedy opened in NZ on Sept 20 2012.
Bad Dates peeks into a fictional evening of speed dating; those evenings where singles meet prospective partners on fast rotation. This quick-paced short film turns the idea into tragicomedy, where, in the vital opening bouts of small talk, a series of prospective relationships go down in flames before they've even begun. Writer/director Grant Lahood democratically gives equal screen time amongst the ensemble cast (made up of graduating students from drama school Toi Whakaari) and to a range of idiosyncrasies, from the infantile to the sex-obsessed.