Of Ngāti Porou and Rereahu-Maniapoto descent, Reuben Collier grew up in the Bay of Plenty town of Rūātoki, then Whakatāne. Later he graduated from Waikato University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, winning first class honours.
When Collier started in the screen industry, reporting for Waka Huia in 1996, he was the show’s youngest reporter. He covered Te Ao Māori, ranging from young Māori graduates to golf and religion. He was a reporter on two episodes which won NZ Television Awards for Best Māori Language Programme: one was on prophet Arekahānara Piripi, while 1999 episode 'He Rau Aroha' covered a pilgrimage of Māori Battalion soldiers back to Italy where their compatriots died in World War II.
While at TVNZ, Collier was mentored by veteran broadcasters Derek Fox and the late Whai Ngata. He soon built up directing and producing credits on shows like the youth-focused Mai Time and Māori current affairs mainstay Marae. In 1998 he began to produce coverage of the national Te Matatini kapa haka event, which he oversaw until 2011.
Collier founded company Maui TV Productions in Rotorua in 2001. The intention was "to bring television opportunities to grassroots level". The company's first commissions saw it covering local news and Anzac Day commemorations. Maui soon expanded to record a huge range of Māori and New Zealand stories. Sciascia, one of the company’s earliest documentaries, explored the whakapapa of a Māori-Italian whānau. It won Best Māori Language Programme at the 2003 NZ Television Awards.
In 2006 TVNZ called on Collier to help coordinate coverage of the Tangi for the Māori Queen, Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu; Collier was Outside Broadcast Director. Earlier the same year, Marae screened a report on Anzac Day about Rotorua man Lou Phillips, who argued he was suffering from the effects of being exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam. The story added to a string of Collier credits exploring New Zealanders at war.
Among them are two documentaries which took Collier to Italy. Monte Cassino 60 Years On (2004) accompanied two WWll veterans as they returned to an infamous battlesite; The Black Legacy (2014) featured singer Whirimako Black (and her daughter) retracing the path of her father Stewart, who had featured in the earlier documentary.
Collier also has directing or producing credits on shows whose subjects include taiaha (Māori warrior reality fighting show Toa O Aotearoa), Māori policing, men’s health issues (Whatukura), and bilingual travel (Tipi Haere), plus a te reo take on Play School.
Joe's World On A Plate starred international chef Joe McLeod mixing global tastes with his Tūhoe heritage; the long-running Kai Time on the Road showcased Māori cuisine from 2003 to 2015. The latter was a multiple finalist in the TV Guide Awards, and spawned an award-winning recipe book.
On behalf of his Rereahu iwi, Collier has played a key part in Treaty Claim Wai 630. Since 2012 he has been chairman of the Miringa Te Karaka Marae Trust, and has managed rebuilding of the historic marae.
Collier's television credits span more than 450 episodes, the majority in te reo Māori. In 2017 he was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to the television industry and Māori. Collier told Māori Television that his kaupapa was "to promote and celebrate our treasured language. To have it spoken in our land and heard around the world. So people will say, Māori are a noble people, indigenous to New Zealand. To retain these ancestral legacies for the future. So, the dreams are in the hands of the next generations to pass on and teach."
In 2017 Collier announced plans to complete a doctorate at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi in Whakatāne, exploring the history of Māori television: "where it began, where it is now and where it will go in the future."
Published on 30 May 2017
Maui TV website. Accessed 30 May 2017
Mānia Clarke, 'Māori broadcaster Reuben Collier receives NZ Order of Merit', Māori Television website. Loaded 31 December 2016. Accessed 30 May 2017
Haylee King, 'Bringing his success home' (Interview) - The Whakatane Beacon, 31 December 2016
Kelly Makiha, 'Top award for Rotorua TV producers' (Interview) - The Rotorua Daily Post, 23 November 2015
Matthew Martin, 'Lots more to do for Maui TV's Reuben Collier'(Interview) - The Rotorua Daily Post, 31 December 2016