Makerita Urale grew up in her father's village in Samoa, before the family emigrated down under. She has gone on to bring a Pasifika voice to plays (the acclaimed Frangipani Perfume), museum exhibits, and documentaries. In 1995 Urale wrote Samoans-down under drama 'The Hibiscus' for TV's Tala Pasifika. Since then, the one time RNZ journalist has directed documentaries on Samoan tattooing (Savage Symbols), gangs (Gang Girls), and Kiwi activists (Qantas award-winner Children of the Revolution). In 2010 she joined Creative New Zealand, as an arts advisor on Pacific Arts.
Frangipani Perfume is an intoxicating blend of lush physical imagery and spare poetic language, as sensual and evocative as its title. Canadian writer Kathleen Oliver, in a review of Makerita Urale's play Frangipani Perfume, The Georgia Straight, 19 October 2006
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 documentary explores the 1970s/80s protest movement through six key activists and their children. Green MP Sue Bradford's daughter Katie protested with her mother at age six. Te Whenua Harawira, born during the 1978 Bastion Point occupation, led the 2004 Foreshore and Seabed hikoi. Also: Che Fu, son of Polynesian Panthers founder Tigilau Ness; Toi Iti, son of Tuhoe activist Tame Iti; and Joseph Minto, whose Dad John organised protests against the Springbok Tour. It won Best Māori Language Programme at the 2008 Qantas Film and TV Awards.
Teenage gang girl Tarnz speaks with brutal honesty about her extraordinary life in this documentary. From Maraenui, Napier, Tarnz formed her own girl gang in her teens, amassed 13 convictions and was imprisoned three times. Gang Girl - Tarnz Story was a finalist at the 2007 Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival in Canada. It was made alongside another girl gang documentary, Mob Daughters; both documentaries were produced by Front of the Box Productions and screened on TV2.
This documentary charts the journey of Auckland hip hop band Nesian Mystik, from their beginnings as an inner-city school band at Western Springs to gold albums and international acclaim. Filmed in New Zealand, London and Tonga the documentary explores the multi-cultural roots of the band members and the inspiration for their lyrics. Director Makerita Urale uses the Nesian Mystik story as a lens to reflect the wider picture of Māori, Pacific Island and Pakeha society in New Zealand.
Presented by Samoan hip hop artist King Kapisi and transgender rock queen Ramon Te Wake, Pasifika 2005 documents the biggest Polynesian festival in the world. Held in Auckland every year since 1992, the Pasifika Festival is a free event that celebrates Pacific Island culture, music, dance, food, arts and crafts and film. Held at Western Springs Park, and supported by Auckland City Council, Pasifika (as it's popularly known) attracts more than 140,000 people. Pasifika 2005 was screened on TV2.
A magazine show with an edge, The Living Room won awards for its creative and dynamic approach to covering the arts. These excerpts from series two cover a wide range of artists, from those working in multimedia to those puttng stencil art on walls. Also featured are dub band Kora, novelist Kelly Ana Morey and drummer Anthony Donaldson. In the second to last clip, Taika Waititi pretends he hasn't done any rehearsals for his one man show Taika's Incredible Show, which features an alien with ridiculous teeth and Gunther the dancing German.
This early episode from the award-winning arts series drops in on the Urale sisters — directors Sima and Makerita and publicist Maila — in the living room of their Lyall Bay fale. The prolific Samoan-Kiwi siblings visit local haunts, discuss work, and brother Bill (aka King Kapisi) is mentioned in dispatches. Other Kiwi creatives featured include 'nu jazz' practitioner Mark de Clive-Lowe playing at Cargo in London; designer Ross Stevens building his challenging Happy Valley shipping container conversion; and Cannons Creek beatbox king Dougie B breaking it down.
This documentary looks at the art of traditional Samoan tattooing, or pe'a, based around interviews with nine men who have the tattoos (which cover the lower back and upper legs). The film goes to Samoa to discover the history of tatau, and also interviews New Zealand-based Samoans with pe'a. They talk about the cultural significance of the tattooing, what it means to them, and about dealing with the pain of the long tattooing process, as well as the recovery period afterwards. The documentary screened at the 2002 NZ International Film Festival.
A magazine show with an edge, The Living Room did for arts television production what Radio With Pictures did for NZ music — it ripped open the venetian blinds, rearranged the plastic-covered cushions, and shone the sun on Aotearoa’s homegrown creative culture. Often letting the subjects film and present their own stories, it was produced for three series by Wellington’s Sticky Pictures, who also made follow-up arts showcase The Gravy. These excerpts from the first series show a calvacade of local talent, including an early Flight of the Conchords screen outing.
The award-winning promo for King Kapisi's debut single is a family affair: bookended by shots of his two-year-old son, directed by his sister Sima and produced by another sister, Makerita. The song is a plea to his Samoan people to remember their pre-colonial past: “feed your kids not the church”. Filmed underwater at Wellington’s Kilbirnie Aquatic Centre, the video has islander Kapisi swimming through a sea of lava-lava. Made before Kapisi signed a record contract, the video won gongs at 1997’s BFM, Mai Time, and Flying Fish awards and a 2004 NZ On Air 1000 Music Video Celebration nod.
Tala Pasifika was a Pasifika drama series which grew from workshops aimed at upskilling Pasifika screen talents. The first six teleplays debuted on TV One in 1996 as part of magazine show Tagata Pasifika. Two more screened in their own slots in 1999. Instigated by Stephen Stehlin and Pomau Papali'i, Tala Pasifika was the first drama series to showcase Samoan culture. Don Selwyn and Ruth Kaupua were brought on to produce. Among those supporting the workshops or the resulting series were NZ On Air, the NZ Film Commission, Creative NZ and Justine Simei-Barton's Pacific Theatre.
Tala Pasifika was a pioneering Pacific Island drama series; this episode is one of six short films that screened on TV One in 1996. 'The Hibiscus' is the lighthearted tale of Sefo (Soi Paito Siulepa), a retired grandfather who arrives from Samoa and plants a hibiscus in the family's back yard. Although he has difficulty speaking English, the garden is a forum to explain history and Samoan tradition to the kids. When Mum reveals her plan to concrete the yard and put in a BBQ area, the kids come up with a compromise.