After getting a law and arts degree at Auckland University, Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa opted to pursue a career in filmmaking; he found law just a little "too exciting". Utilising a decade's experience making television — including various roles on Tagata Pasifika — he wrote and directed self-funded movie Three Wise Cousins in 2015. The comedy about a young man learning the basics of Samoan life was a hit. Two more Polynesian comedies followed: Hibiscus and Ruthless, about a young woman caught up in romance to her mother's dismay, and Take Home Pay, which sees two Samoan men on the trail of stolen money.
I set out to make a film that was entertaining. Whether it has artistic merit or critical [acclaim], it doesn't matter. For me, if an audience, in particular a New Zealand Pacific Island audience, sits in there and doesn't laugh, then I've failed. Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa on his first movie Three Wise Cousins, Stuff, 3 January 2016
Take Home Pay marks the third self-funded feature for writer/director SQS. Three Wise Cousins and Hibiscus and Ruthless both proved popular with audiences and critics. This 'action comedy' focusses on Samoan brothers Popo (Ronnie Taulafo) and Alama (Vito Vito) who ditch the taro fields of home for the promise of big money, picking kiwifruit in Aotearoa. When Popo steals their wages and goes AWOL, Alama calls on his relative, unorthodox private investigator Bob Titilo (ex Laughing Samoan Tofiga Fepulea'i) to help track his brother down. Magnum P.I. he ain't.
Hibiscus (Suivai Pilisipi Autagavaia, from short Manurewa) and no nonsense Ruth (Anna-Maree Thomas) have been friends since school. But now Hibiscus is finishing university, and her domineering mother doesn't want boyfriends getting in the way. So Hibiscus enlists Ruth's help, to handle any temptations. Hibiscus & Ruthless marks the second movie for writer/director SQS (Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa) — who won keen audiences in 2015 for his first feature, Samoan-set comedy Three Wise Cousins. Stuff reviewer James Croot praised the new film's casting, comedy and pathos.
Bros meets The Bachelor in this hit Māori Television reality show, which was billed as a "hunt for the ultimate Polynesian warrior". The contestants' muscles might look good, but do the personal trainers and dancers have their ancestors’ skills? This first episode tests the 12 entrants in spear throwing, waka portage and hakamoa (Hawaiian wrestling). The show swapped po-faced reality TV conventions for Polynesian humour: dropped lavalavas and tattooed torsos are slathered with innuendo by hosts Pani and Pani (Goretti Chadwick and Anapela Polataivao).
Overhearing his crush say she only likes “real island guys” is all it takes to get Adam (Neil Amituanai, in his big screen debut) packing his bags for Samoa, in this comedy by Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa (TV's Fresh). Shot largely in Samoa over two weeks, the self-funded film co-stars Samoan locals Vito Vito and Fesuiai Viliamu as Adam’s cousins, teaching him the basics of island life. Three Wise Cousins reached number eight at the NZ box office in its opening weekend, and continued to win solid audiences, despite minimal publicity. Stuff critic James Croot called it "colourful and charming".
Tired of being portrayed as "the shy one, the dragon lady or the prostitute", three Chinese-Kiwi female actors turned the tables and starred in their own web series. JJ Fong, Perlina Lau and Ally Xue teamed with director Roseanne Liang (My Wedding And Other Secrets) to create flatmates comedy Flat3. It began in 2013 on the smell of an oily rag. A Kickstarter campaign raised $10,000 for the second season, then NZ On Air put $100,000 into the third. Guests included Rose Matafeo and Madeleine Sami. Flat3's three stars (and Liang) returned for 2016's Friday Night Bites.
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 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.
Fresh is a popular TVNZ youth show with a focus on Pasifika arts, culture, events and sport. Since 2011 its “Poly-platter” of pacific flavours has ranged from singer Ria Hall and sports star Sonny Bill Williams, to Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa and hip hop choreographer Parris Goebel. It screens on Saturday mornings on TV2. Fresh regulars have included Robbie Magasiva, Samoan 'sisters' Pani and Pani, and the Fresh Housewives. The show is produced by Tiki Lounge Productions, the team behind online PI social network Coconet.tv.
It’s Samoan Language Week and Tom Natoealofa says “Talofa!” to kick off Tagata Pasifika's Aotearoa award-nominated coverage of the 2011 Polynesian Blue Pacific Music Awards. Natoealofa co-hosts with Angela Tiatia, from the TelstraClear Pacific (now Vodafone) Events Centre in Manukau. The awards honour everything from gospel to urban. Nesian Mystik take out a trifecta including the big one, and Ladi 6 also wins. In the last clip Annie Crummer picks up a Lifetime Achievement gong, and the Ponsonby Methodist Church Choir perform her song ‘See What Love Can Do’.
Secondary school Auckland Grammar is a local landmark, with a reputation for academic and sporting excellence. This documentary surveys the state school's traditions; the "ways of Grammar" include academic streaming, the prefect system, and sport (rowing trials and the traditional 1st XV match against King's are featured). It also touches on the lengths parents will go to enable their children to attend the prestigious boys' school. Old boys interviewed include cricketer Dion Nash, All Blacks Doug Howlett and Grant Fox, and broadcaster John Hawkesby.
Tagata Pasifika is a magazine-style show with items and interviews focusing on Pacific Island communities in Aotearoa. Debuting on 4 April 1987, it features coverage of Pacific Island cultural events like the Pasifika festival, plus longer documentaries. It is the only show focusing on PIs on mainstream New Zealand television. After TVNZ announced that its Māori and Pacific shows would no longer be made in-house, Tagata Pasifika veterans Stephen Stehlin, Ngaire Fuata and John Utanga took over production in 2015 through their company SunPix. Website TP+ launched in 2018.