Mātai Smith began his screen career reporting on Marae. He was a long-running host of pioneering te reo children's show Pūkana and later co-hosted breakfast TV staple Good Morning (where he introduced te reo, and was hypnotised). Smith fronted popular Māori TV talent quest Homai Te Pakipaki, winning Best Presenter at the 2012 NZ TV Awards. He is currently Native Affairs’ Australian correspondent.

Kura kaupapa Māori (Māori immersion schoolchildren) had nowhere to go to watch shows that would reflect them, show them and also hear them speak te reo, and so Pūkana became that vehicle to provide them with content that reflects the world they were growing up in. Mātai Smith on Pūkana, New Zealand television's first te reo show for kids

Pāia - Series 1 Episode 3 V8 Car

2017, Producer - Television

The Ring Inz - First Episode

2017, Writer - Television

"Pitch Perfect meets Modern Family set on a marae" was the tagline for this 2017 Māori Television comedy/drama, about a kapa haka group that fluke their way to the national championships. This first episode shows that with seven weeks to prepare, whānaungatanga (family) will be as much of a challenge as getting it together onstage. Hori Ahipene plays dual roles as worried coach Teepz and Aunty Mavis. Roimata Fox plays kapa princess Koakoa, and actor turned director Katie Wolfe is Nanny Fanny. Press the CC box below the screen to translate occasional te reo dialogue. 

2016 Matariki Awards

2016, Presenter - Television

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. 

Fitness in the Whare

2015, Subject - Television

Pūkana - 2015 Episode

2015, Writer, Director, Te Reo Māori Advisor - Television

Named after the exaggerated facial expressions performed in a haka, this long-running children's series emphasises the energy of contemporary youth culture. Made by company Cinco Cine, Pūkana was pioneering in Māori language programming for kids. This 2015 episode sees the crew of reporters stunt driving, skydiving, camping, kayaking, bungy jumping, and hanging out with a tarantula. The crew includes past Homai te Pakipaki champ Pikiteora Mura-Hitai, and veteran Pūkana presenter Tiara Tāwera, who is about to follow Mātai Smith and switch to directing on the show.

Good Morning - Final Episode

2015, Presenter - Television

On 11 December 2015 the morning telly watching nation mourned the end of a long-running TV One staple. Good Morning’s 9000 hours spanned nearly two decades, from faxes to Facebook. In this final episode, presenters Jeanette Thomas, Matai Smith and Astar wrangle a two-hour curtain call of ex-hosts. Included are the last Men’s Panel, cooking bloopers, and of course, advertorials (with a Suzanne Paul tribute, and a promo for Stiffy fabric stiffener). There’s tautoko to the show’s te reo, support for the arts, and disaster appeals, and Shortland Street's Will Hall lip synchs to Def Leppard.

The Moe Show

2014, Te Reo Māori Advisor - Television

Aotearoa

2014, Producer - Music video

Launched for 2014's Māori Language Week, the NZ Music Award-nominated video for 'Aotearoa' is a showcase of Kiwi scenery and musical talent, led by main vocalist Stan Walker. 'Aotearoa' began when TV producer Mātai Smith, aware 1983’s 'Poi-E' was the last te reo song to hit number one, thought it might be nice to repeat the feat (in the end he had to settle for number two). Walker wrote the track with his Mt Zion co-star Troy Kingi and singers Vince Harder and Ria Hall. Hall calls the result “a song to celebrate our nation, our landscape, our uniqueness, our language and our people”.

Through the Lens - The First 10 Years of Māori Television

2014, Subject - Television

This 2014 documentary celebrates Māori Television’s first decade. It begins by backgrounding campaigns that led to the channel (despite many naysayers). Interviews with key figures convey the channel's kaupapa – preserving the past and te reo, while eyeing the future. A wide-ranging survey of innovative programming showcases the positive depictions of Māoridom, from fresh Waitangi, Anzac Day, basketball and 2011 Rugby World Cup coverage, to Te Ao Māori takes on genres like current affairs and reality TV (eg Native Affairs, Homai Te Pakipaki, Kai Time on the Road, Code, and more).

Whānau Factor

2013, Presenter - Television

Aroha Bridge

2013 - 2019, Actor - Web

This comedic series about a suburban hip hop band with stars in its eyes was based on a comic strip by Coco Solid, aka writer/artist/musician Jessica Hansell. The strip featured in the NZ Herald's Volume magazine. She joins forces here with Wellington music/animation collective Skyranch (Simon Ward, Don Brooker, Luke 'Disasteradio' Rowell, Kenny Smith, Richard Pilkington). Aroha Bridge was funded by NZ On Air under original title Hook Ups. It debuted on the NZ Herald’s website in May 2013. A second season followed in mid 2016, and a third in mid 2019.

The GC

2014 - 2015, Subject - Television

For three seasons, The GC followed young Māori living on Australia’s Gold Coast: partying, keeping buff and chasing dreams (from rap stardom to owning a gym). The GC was a ratings success, particularly among Māori viewers, but won controversy over how much Māori content it contained. After two seasons on TV3, a third season screened on Channel Four. Executive produced by Julie Christie, The GC was compared to American reality hit Jersey Shore. Creator Bailey Mackey (Code) told ScreenTalk in 2013 that "The GC doesn’t represent Māori as a whole, it’s just a slice of who we are."

Whare Taonga - First Episode

2012, Network Executive - Television

This award-winning TV series explored whare significant to a community, using the buildings themselves as a vessel for storytelling. Interviews delve into each whare’s design and build, and its cultural and historical significance. This first episode visits Whakatane to enter Ngāti Awa’s globetrotting meeting house, Mātaatua. After 130 years the building was returned home and restored, following a Treaty of Waitangi settlement. It reopened in 2011. The te reo series was made by the company behind architecture show Whare Māori. To translate, press the 'CC' logo at the bottom of the screen. 

Head Starts

2010, Presenter - Television

50 Years of New Zealand Television: 7 - Taonga TV

2010, Subject - Television

This edition in Prime’s television history series surveys Māori programming. Director Tainui Stephens pairs societal change (urbanisation, protest, cultural resurgence) with an increasing Māori presence in front of and behind the camera. Interviews with broadcasters are intercut with Māori screen content. The episode charts an evolution from Māori as exotic extras, via pioneering documentaries, drama and current affairs, to being an intrinsic part of Aotearoa’s screen landscape, with te reo used on national news, and Māori telling their own stories on Māori Television.

Homai Te Pakipaki

2007 - 2015, Presenter - Television

Thanks partly to enthusiastic host Te Hamua Nikora, Homai Te Pakipaki soon won a keen following. Over nine years the sometimes rough and unrehearsed karaoke contest became a Friday night staple on Māori Television —  encouraging young and not so young to shine, as they performed and competed for a cash prize, sometimes to studio audiences numbering as high as 3000. Alongside Nikora, the band of hosts included award-winner Mātai Smith, 2008 series winner Pikiteora Mura-Hita and radio's Brent Mio. In 2016 Nikora returned to co-host follow-up show Sidewalk Karaoke

Native Affairs

2015 - 2016, Reporter - Television

Māori Television’s flagship news show began in 2007, with a kaupapa of tackling current affairs from a Te Ao Māori perspective. Coverage of Waitangi Day, elections, plus investigations (eg into the Urewera Raids, Kiwi troops in Afghanistan, and management of the Kōhanga Reo National Trust) saw Native Affairs win acclaim, plus Best Current Affairs Show at the 2011 Aotearoa Film and TV Awards. Reporters have included Julian Wilcox, Mihingarangi Forbes, Renee Kahukura-Iosefa and Maramena Roderick. In 2015 the one-hour running time was reduced to 30 minutes.

Te Kāea

2015 - 2016, Reporter - Television

Kōrero Mai

2009 - 2012, Presenter - Television

Kōrero Mai ('speak to me') used a soap opera (Ākina) as a vehicle to teach conversational Māori, aided by te reo tutorials. Special segments taught song and tikanga. Multiple seasons were made for for Māori Television by Cinco Cine Productions. Cast and crew with credits on the series include presenters Matai Smith and Gabrielle Paringata; actors Calvin Tutaeo, Vanessa Rare, Jaime Passier-Armstrong, and Ben Mitchell; and directors Rawiri Paratene, Rachel House and Simon Raby. Kōrero Mai won Best Māori Programme at the 2005 Qantas TV Awards.

Ihumanea

2003, Producer - Television

Mai FM - It's Cool to Kōrero

1999, Narrator - Television

This NZ TV award-nominated documentary tells the story of radio station Mai FM. Founded in 1992 by Auckland iwi Ngāti Whātua, its mix of hip hop, r’n’b and te reo soon won ratings success. Original breakfast host Robert Rakete recalls early days when the station was a CD player hooked up to an aerial, while Mai FM's champions argue the station has executed its kaupapa: promoting Māori language and culture to the youth of Auckland, including the breakout phrase, “it’s cool to kōrero!” The introduction by Tainui Stephens was done for Māori TV's doco slot He Raranga Kōrero.  

Pūkana

1999 - 2007, Presenter, Producer - Television

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.

Good Morning

2007 - 2015, Presenter - Television

Over nearly two decades and almost 9000 hours of TV time, Good Morning was a TVNZ light entertainment mainstay, airing on weekdays from 9am on TV One. Filmed at Wellington’s Avalon Studios for most of its run, the magazine show ranged from advertorials for recipes and home appliances to news, film reviews, aerobics, interviews, and … hypnotism. Presenters included inaugural host Liz Gunn, Mary Lambie (with her cat Lou), Sarah Bradley, Brendon Pongia, Steve Gray, Hadyn Jones, Lisa Manning, Rod Cheeseman, Jeanette Thomas, Matai Smith, and Astar.

Marae

1996 - 1998, Reporter, Presenter - Television

Launched in 1992, Marae is the longest running Māori current affairs programme. It aims to keep its audience in touch with the issues — political or otherwise — that affect Māori, and explain kauapa Māori from a Māori perspective. The Marae Digipoll is seen as a respected barometer of matters Māori. Marae was relaunched briefly in October 2010 as Marae Investigates, presented by Scotty Morrison and Jodi Ihaka Marae (and later Miriama Kamo) . Screening on TV One, Marae is presented half in english and half in te reoi. It is now made by company Pango Productions.

Waka Huia

2016, Director - Television

A 'waka huia' is traditionally a treasure box to hold the revered huia feather. The multi award-winning television series of the same name records and preserves Māori culture and customs. It is presented completely in Te Reo Māori. The long-running series travels extensively to retell tribal histories, and sets a high standard of reo, seeking to interview only fluent speakers. Waka Huia also covers some of the social and political concerns of the day, taking a snapshot of Māori history. Created by the late Whai Ngata, Waka Huia is a tāonga for future generations.