Shimpal Lelisi is an award winning actor, writer and presenter. He is well known for his work with comedy group, The Naked Samoans, appearing in hit movie Sione's Wedding, and writing for animated TV comedy bro’Town where he also voiced the character Valea.
When you're 14, all that really matters is food and girls. Lelisi describing the character motivation for the bro’Town boys
This comedic PI/Kiwi web series offers up a West Auckland whodunnit. Kala and Chaka's church hall fundraiser rakes in the cash, but before anyone can celebrate, the money is stolen from the kitty. The close-knit circle of housie lovers and churchgoers eye each other distrustfully, 'mouths are running', and robbery isn't the only scandalous activity going down in Avondale. Housiewives won funding from Skip Ahead, a joint NZ On Air/YouTube initiative aimed at helping Kiwi storytellers reach new audiences. The cast includes singer Bella Kalolo and actor Shushila Takao (Filthy Rich).
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shows off her comedy prowess in this Funny Girls special, celebrating 125 years of Kiwi women attaining the right to vote. Ardern corrects the blatant lies of "Pauline the producer" (Jackie van Beek), and puts up with Pauline kissing her. This episode is a who's who of female Kiwi comedians, featuring (for the first time) live stand-up alongside the sketches — including Justine Smith and Billy T winners Melanie Bracewell and Angella Dravid. The Suffragette Special followed series three.
Comedian (and rooster) Oscar Kightley fronts this 2013 beginner’s guide to the Chinese zodiac. His mission: to explore the 12 oriental star signs. As the Kiwi population heads towards one in six being of Asian origin, Kightley surveys a cavalcade of contemporary Kiwi personalities for their views on stargazing, from his Harry co-star Sam Neill to lawyer Mai Chen. This excerpt is a potted history of the oriental zodiac, aided by animation; then it's enter the dragon. Made for TV3’s Inside New Zealand documentary strand it was directed by bro’Town creator Elizabeth Mitchell.
This June 2013 edition of the TVNZ Pasifika youth show is presented by actor Robbie Magasiva from his base in Melbourne, where he has a role in Australian prison drama Wentworth. Elsewhere the Poly-plethora includes a visit by Pani (Goretti Chadwick) to Armageddon Expo in Hamilton to meet Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa. Pani makes the hard man with Hawaiian heritage blush, and gets the lowdown on his mako tatau. Niuean artist Kenneth Green also talks about his tattoo; Tiger and Raa visit the school principal; and reggae band Brownhill close with ‘First Love’.
This long-running factual series aims to celebrate "what diversity really means for all New Zealanders", by exploring the people and culture of Kiwi neighbourhoods. Four stories per episode are presented by a personality with links to the 'hood. The hosts include actors Madeleine Sami, Shimpal Lelisi and Yoson An, musicians King Kapisi and Tami Neilson, tennis player Marina Erakovic and designer Sean Kelly. Made by Satellite Media for TVNZ, six seasons had been made up to 2018. Neighbourhood was nominated for Best Information Series at the 2012 NZ Television Awards.
This bloopers reel from Pasifika youth show Fresh begins with a series of pieces to camera gone wrong: sibling presenters Nainz and Viiz Tupai (Adeaze) get the giggles introducing 'Fresh Games', Laughing Samoan Tofiga Fepulea'i gets his man breasts ready for action, and Pani and Pani get lyrical about raisins. 'Fob Outs' (outtakes set to Outkast’s 'Hey Ya') include Scribe missing a beat, All Black Jerome Kaino getting tongue-tied, choreographer Parris Goebel pulling faces, actors Robbie Magasiva and David Fane mugging for the camera, and Nicole Whippy getting funky.
The final episode of this long-running TVNZ show for Māori youth comes from a BBQ party atop Auckland's TVNZ HQ. When I AM TV began in 2008 it was all about Bebo. Five years later it’s about Bieber (the singer #tautokos the show), Skux and Twitter, and the hashtag #KeepingItReo. Hosts Kimo Houltham and Chey Milne review the year’s highlights: from Koroneihana to a boil up with Katchafire; from dance crews to hunting for Jeff da Māori, with Liam Messam and The Waikato Chiefs; from a Samoan holiday (with co-presenter Taupunakohe Tocker), to defining mana in 2012.
In the five years since Sione's Wedding, the Duckrocker quartet have experienced marriage, children, Australians and the good lord. Then their minister reunites them on a quest to find Bolo (Dave Fane) — once their driver and conscience, now MIA. The sequel to the break-through PI-Kiwi hit reunites the original cast, and adds in a dodgy minister (Kirk Torrance) and a new director (Outrageous Fortune's Simon Bennett). On the burden of following Wedding, Stuff reviewer Steve Kilgallon adjudged: "seen on its own merits, it [Sione's 2] proves worth the wait".
This first episode of the popular TVNZ Pasifika youth show is presented by brothers Nainz and Viiz Tupai (aka Adeaze), who are heading back to Samoa to play a post-Tsunami fundraising gig in the village of Lalomanu. Elsewhere, Vela Manusaute hosts Brown’n’around and is MC at Manukau PI festival Strictly Brown, before teaming up with Bella Kololo and Jermaine Leef to judge Fresh talent. Actor Jason Wu gets ready for the premiere of movie Matariki; the Samoan myth of Sina and the eel gets fresh retelling; and Bill Urale (aka King Kapisi) talks tatau.
An all-star team of Kiwi talent contributed to this sketch comedy — including Taika Waititi, Rhys Darby, the bro'Town team, and 'special guest stars' Jemaine Clement and John Clarke. In-between one-off and ongoing sketches, there were regular appearances by Taika Waititi as an oddball alien character with plans for planet Earth. There were also animated inserts like laconic sheep tale The Pen, FOT (Funny Orange Thing) and the Kiwi accents of Beached Az. Eight episodes screened on TV3. Bro'Town creator Elizabeth Mitchell was producer and lead director.
Eclectic comedy show Radiradirah featured Taika Waititi, Rhys Darby, Madeleine Sami and the talent behind animated hit bro'Town. The fast-paced sketch show included Monty Python-style animated inserts, the laconic talking sheep of The Pen, and bro'Town-ers Oscar Kightley and Dave Fane as elderly women who've done it all. This first episode introduces a number of ongoing characters, including an oddball alien with a beard, and crusading space captain Hemi T Cook (both played by Waititi). Radiradirah was created by bro'Town's Elizabeth Mitchell and Oscar Kightley.
ASB Polyfest 2008 is an action-packed showcase of Māori and Pacific youth competing in the annual schools' cultural festival in South Auckland. Māori, Tonga, Samoa, Niue and Cook Islands performances, 100,000 people and trophies to be won make this competitive event one of the most important dates for youth in Auckland. Behind the scenes footage, colourful costumes, trials and tribulations and "the Pacific way" are captured. Made by the Tagata Pasifika team, with directors including Naked Samoans Shimpal Lelisi and Mario Gaoa.
Here to Stay uses New Zealand personalities to examine key settler groups that make up the Kiwi tribe. Each show mixes personal stories with a wider view, as the presenter sets out to discover what traits and icons their ethnic group contributed to the NZ blend. In the first (of two) series Michael Hurst, Theresa Healey, Ewen Gilmour, Jackie Clarke, Frano Botica and Bernadine Lim explore the English, Irish, German, Scot, Croatian, and Chinese stories respectively. Each episode includes identity reflections from a chorus of well-known Kiwis.
Actor Robbie Magasiva and discus champ Beatrice Faumuina oversee this hour-long Tagata Pasifika 20th birthday celebration. Presenters past and present survey changes in the Aotearoa PI community over the show’s run: from education, arts and culture (Ardijah, OMC, Michel Tuffery’s corned beef bulls and the Naked Samoans), to political pioneers (Mark Gosche, Winnie Laban), and sports heroes (All Black icons Jones, Lomu and Umaga). Among those talking about the show’s importance to NZ Pasifika culture are Helen Clark, Annie Crummer and many others.
Sione's Wedding is a feel-good feature comedy about four 30-something guys who must each find a girlfriend before their best friend Sione's wedding — or be left out in the cold. Through the efforts of these bumbling blokes to get the girl(s), the film brought to life the colour and humour of the urban Samoan community in Auckland, the world's largest Polynesian city. A breakthrough PI-Kiwi film, Sione's broke box office records when it opened in cinemas throughout New Zealand in March 2006. Actor Oscar Kightley co-wrote the script with James Griffin.
This hit animated series about five Auckland school kids was created by Elizabeth Mitchell and theatre group Naked Samoans. This episode sees Vale (Oscar Kightley) dealing with deadlines, punch-ups and prima donnas as he rushes to write and direct the school musical. In the audience are HRH Prince Charles, Chris Knox, Scribe and Helen Clark, who all end up joining in during a showstopping final number about togetherness. "Stop the violence. We're honkies and Asians, horries and curry munchers. Morningside for life."
Hit animated comedy series bro'Town was born from the poly-saturated comedy of theatre group The Naked Samoans. This episode from the second series sees the boys taking on a cast-off racehorse called Honky, and with help (and hindrance) from Vale and Valea's gambling-addicted father, training him to race in the Morningside Cup. Valea faces up to his horse phobia to ride Honky on the big day. Meanwhile special subtitles help explain what this horse is really thinking.
This hit animated TV comedy follows the adventures of five kids growing up in the Auckland suburb of Morningside. This rugby-themed episode starts with God praising George Nepia (with Jesus weeping because he’s no good at sports), before heading down to Morningside for a lesson on teamwork. As the Sylvester 1st XV face up against a superstar team which includes Tana Umaga and Stacey Jones, Mack pulls a sicky so that his mates won't find out how little he knows about the game. Michael Jones is the Savages' inspirational coach.
This animated hit follows the adventures of five kids growing up in the Auckland suburb of Morningside. The show's fearless, un-PC wit was developed from the poly-saturated comedy of theatre group Naked Samoans. In bro'Town's very first episode, Valea gets hit by a bus and wakes up a genius, allowing him to demonstrate that his school is not just full of dumbarses after the boys compete on a school quiz show. The Simpsons-esque celebrity cameos start strong, thanks to Robert Rakete, Scribe, PM Helen Clark, David Tua and "marvellous" John Campbell.
Brought to you from "the Samoan Embassy" (in reality the Naked Samoans' motel room) this episode of The Living Room follows the comedic theatre troupe during their time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Then it retreats to the wild west coast of the South Island, where acclaimed cinematographer Alun Bollinger reflects on his diverse life and career. Also featured is the first 'proper' exhibition of Illicit artists on K' Road (featuring the late Martin Edmond), and a visit to small town Mangaweka, setting for Michael Reihana's surrealist short film Little Gold Cowboy.
Set in a high flying PR firm, Spin Doctors was a topical, fast turnaround satire — in the tradition of John Clarke’s The Games. No client is too grasping, no issue too unsavoury for Giles Peterson and Associates, and a team including a ruthless Australian (Mark Ferguson), a boozy trout (Elizabeth Hawthorne) and the office liberal unsuccessfully battling his conscience (John Leigh). Each episode was written and produced in just five days — allowing the writers (including James Griffin, Roger Hall and Tom Scott) full license with the week’s issues.
Tagata Pasifika takes a look at Kiwi PI theatre phenomenon The Naked Samoans, and features extensive footage from a number of their stage comedies. Viewers will recognise early versions of a number of characters who would later feature on the Samoans' animated hit bro'Town. Co-founder Oscar Kightley talks about the group. AO-rated, the episode captures the non-PC island humour that would shape five seasons of bro'Town, and two Sione's Wedding feature films.
Staunch follows the politicisation of Ariana (Once Were Warriors’ Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell) a young Māori woman who’s run into trouble with the law. Guided by a sympathetic social worker (Tamati Patuwai) she defends herself against assault charges following a police raid on her home. The Auckland-set TV3 drama was inspired by fact, and co-written by director Keith Hunter and playwright Toa Fraser; it won multiple gongs at the 2002 NZ TV Awards. Staunch was an early screen credit for Fraser (director of feature films No. 2, Dean Spanley, and ballet doco Giselle).
A group of 20-somethings revolving around pregnant Liz (Danielle Cormack) confront a Generation X medley of 'births, deaths, and marriages' in Harry Sinclair’s debut feature, developed from the eponymous TV3 series. They experience, "the agony of failed love and ambiguous love, the agony of loneliness, the ecstasy of sex and the discovery of maturity" (Australian critic Andrew L Urban). In this excerpt from the well-received film the cast faces vexing coathangers, skirts, rubber gloves and panic attacks. NSFW caution: features actual Teutonic topless women.
City Life follows a tight-knit group of apartment-dwelling twenty-somethings (lawyers, bartenders, drug dealers, art dealers, et al) on the emotional merry-go-round of urban living. Created by James Griffin, the television series was an effort to create popular drama relevant to contemporary Auckland city life and to appeal to a Gen X demographic – to inject Melrose Place into Mt Eden. A bevy of Kiwi acting talent drink, dramatise and prevaricate to a soundtrack of contemporary NZ pop.
City Life screened from 1996 to 1998 and made a direct appeal to New Zealand's Gen X apartment-dwelling demographic. Following the lives of a tight-knit group of friends, and featuring racy shots of Auckland's K-Road and nightlife set to contemporary Kiwi pop music, the show was Aotearoa's answer to Melrose Place. In this excerpt from the first episode, the friends are thrown into conflict when one of their own (played by Kevin Smith) decides to marry outside the circle. Complications ensue when Smith shares a brief, but notorious, screen kiss with Charles Mesure.
The feature film Topless Women Talk about Their Lives evolved out of this late night, low budget, TV3 micro-series about the lives, loves and travails of a group of 20-something Aucklanders. It was written and directed by former Front Lawn member Harry Sinclair with a cast including Danielle Cormack and Joel Tobeck. Each four minute episode was shot over a weekend with actors not sighting scripts until just before the camera rolled. Music from Flying Nun bands featured prominently; the women remained fully clothed despite the tantalising titular promise.
Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an eponymous inner city Auckland hospital. A South Pacific Pictures production, the iconic show is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the staff, family and patients. Screening five days a week on TV2 it is New Zealand’s longest running drama. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture, most famously, "you're not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!". This 2007 promo, set to the theme song, collects together highlights from the first 15 years of the show.