Stephen Stehlin has been involved with flagship Pacific show Tagata Pasifika for over 30 years. Alongside Ngaire Fuata and John Utanga, he launched SunPix in 2015. The company took over Tagata Pasifika after Television New Zealand outsourced its stable of Māori and Pacific programmes. Of Samoan descent, Stehlin has been honoured as both a Samoan matai chief, and as a Member of the NZ Order of Merit.
Lisa Taouma has a laufala bag spilling over with Pasifika screen credits. She has directed on Tagata Pasifika, helmed TV2’s Polyfest and made documentaries on subjects from Samoan tattoo to fa’afafine. She produces pioneering PI youth show Fresh with Mario Gaoa, and in 2014 launched Polynesian online community Coconet. Taouma also wrote short films Brown Sugar and Talk of the Town.
After graduating from NZ Broadcasting School, Marama T-Pole (formerly Papau) was a reporter and newsreader at 531PI and Nui FM. In 2005 she joined TV's Tagata Pasifika team. Since then she has presented stories on everything from PIs in Australia to Style Pasifika, aiming to report “through island eyes”. Of Tuvaluan/European heritage, she was the subject of a 2014 Tagata Pasifika report on Tuvaluan weddings.
The part-Samoan and fairly talented Mario Gaoa has been a writer, director and the voice of God. Part of the team behind comedy troupe the Naked Samoans and animated show bro’ Town, Gaoa supplied a number of voices for the hit series. These days he runs production company Tikilounge, with his partner Lisa Taouma.
Māori and Cook Island producer and director Lanita Ririnui has made a career telling the stories of youth, women, Māori and Pacific Islanders. Her extensive CV includes Pasifika youth show Fresh, Māori Television's flagship sports show Code, and interactive website Poi 360.
Veteran Tagata Pasifika producer/reporter John Utanga has interviewed prime ministers, and covered everything from vaka voyaging to Polyfest. Born and bred in Rarotonga, Utanga studied journalism at Auckland University and started as a reporter in print before transferring to television in 1994. Utanga co-founded the Pacific Islands Media Association, has chaired Auckland University of Technology’s Pacific Media Centre, and in 2015 completed the Taupo Ironman. He is now one of the partners in company SunPix, which took over production of Tagata Pasifika in 2015, from TVNZ.
Ngaire Fuata has had a wide-ranging career, from presenter, producer and chart-topping singer, to fitness instructor. The Whakatane local started her screen career at TVNZ in the late 1980s, as a secretary in the Māori and Pacific Programmes department. While working there, her cover of 'To Sir with Love' hit number one. In the early 90s Fuata began presenting for Tagata Pasifika, and later produced it. She was one of the founders of SunPix, which took over production of Tagata Pasifika in 2015. Fuata returned in front of the camera for 2011 autobiographical documentary Salat se Rotuma - Passage to Rotuma.
Makerita Urale grew up in her father's village in Samoa, before the family emigrated down under. She has gone on to bring a Pasifika voice to plays (the acclaimed Frangipani Perfume), museum exhibits, and documentaries. In 1995 Urale wrote Samoans-down under drama 'The Hibiscus' for TV's Tala Pasifika. Since then, the one time RNZ journalist has directed documentaries on Samoan tattooing (Savage Symbols), gangs (Gang Girls), and Kiwi activists (Qantas award-winner Children of the Revolution). In 2010 she joined Creative New Zealand, as an arts advisor on Pacific Arts.
The multi-talented Stan Wolfgramm originally trained as an actor at New York’s Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. Returning to Aotearoa, he founded Drum Productions in 1992 to tell Pasifika stories: from fashion showcase Style Pasifika, to pioneering PI youth show Pacific Beat Street, to the opening of the Pacific Forum. Of Tongan, Cook Island and German descent, Wolfgramm was made a MNZM in 2015’s New Year’s honours.
Wayne Leonard has directed some of the highest-rated live events on New Zealand television. Since leaving TVNZ in the early 2000s to go freelance, he has continued to be one of the country’s premiere live directors, and helmed TV series ranging from hit panel show Game of Two Halves to My Kitchen Rules. In 2013 his coverage of the America’s Cup in San Francisco was nominated for multiple Sports Emmy awards.