Quinton Hita's work on TV, radio and film has seen him on both sides of the camera. After winning fans on Mai Time and Shortland Street, he went behind the scenes on Shortland, and these days is better known in the industry as a prolific producer with company Kura Productions.
Hita's prowess in Te Reo played a part early in his career, when he balanced work teaching Māori with a gig writing Māori news for Palmerston North bilingual station Kia Ora FM.
In 1996 Hita was in at the launch of influential Māori youth show Mai Time. The show began with a team of five presenters, and Hita stayed on board for two years. He was also writing and presenting show Ka Hao te Rangatahi for Māori radio broadcaster Ruia Mai.
After leaving Mai Time, a publisher approached Hita with the idea of him writing a basic guide to Māori language. When Q’s Course in Māori was released in time for Māori Language Week in 2001, NZ Herald writer Maggie Thomson called Hita "the kind of tour de force who is just the figurehead Te Reo needs among young people". The book was updated in 2004, this time with an accompanying CD instead of a cassette tape.
The years between the book's first and second edition saw Hita balancing multiple broadcasting gigs, and adding acting into the mix. He joined the on-air team at Auckland's Mai FM, made radio shows for Ruia Mai and started a six year term as youth rep on the Māori Language Commission. After joining long-running Māori children’s series Pukana as presenter, he also worked on the show as writer, director and Te Reo Māori consultant.
He made his screen acting debut in 2001 with Crooked Earth, a film he had first auditioned for four years before. Hita played Api, who romances the screen daughter of Temuera Morrison's character (played by Jaime Passier-Armstrong). "He was a very cool character to play," Hita told Pavement. "He rides the horses, he gets the chicks."
After a small role in Harry Sinclair comedy Toy Love, Hita joined the cast of Shortland Street in 2002. Playing ambulance driver Nelson Copeland, he found himself falling for the manipulative Layla Cornwall (Louise Harris) and saving lives in the earthshaking 2003 Christmas cliffhanger, before departing for the Solomon Islands with Hannah Tolich's character.
Hita had by then moved behind the scenes to become part of the Shortland writing team, and also became the show's Māori script editor.
Kura Productions, a joint venture with company South Pacific Pictures, was launched in 2004. As Kura's manager, Hita has executive produced or produced over 250 hours of TV, much of them for Māori Television. The shows include Pukoro and multiple seasons of both bilingual game show Kupuhuna and five-nights-a-week language series Tōku Reo. Hita can also be seen on Kōwhao Rau, talking to kaumātua about lives lived far from the beaten track.
Hita has also worked on a number of films with actor turned director Tearepa Kahi. Their first short, tagging tale The Speaker (2005) was invited to top-rated film festivals in Berlin and Clermont-Ferrand. Two years later Hita produced Kahi's second short Taua – War Party, which travelled even further, and won the best short award at National Geographic's All Roads Festival.
Waitangi Day 2013 saw the theatrical launch of the pair's first feature film. Mt Zion marks the acting debut of Australian Idol winner Stan Walker, and also stars Temuera Morrison. Walker plays an aspiring musician pitching to be support act when Bob Marley plays in Auckland in 1979. Herald writer Russell Baillie called the result "a smart, finely-observed, heartfelt drama of good humour and decent tunes against an authentic local setting".
'Quinton Hita – Executive Producer' Tōku Reo website. Accessed 13 February 2013
Russell Baillie, 'Movie review: Mt Zion' – NZ Herald, 6 February 2013
'Business Partners – Kura Productions' South Pacific Television website. Accessed 13 February 2013
Maori Television website. Accessed 13 February 2013
Margie Thomson, 'Quinton Hita: Q's Course in Maori' (Review) – NZ Herald, 2001, month not listed
Melinda Williams, 'Cowboy Culture' (Interview) – Pavement 48, August/September 2001, Page 24