Mātai Smith began his screen career reporting on Marae. He was a long-running host of pioneering te reo children's show Pūkana and later co-hosted breakfast TV staple Good Morning (where he introduced te reo, and was hypnotised). Smith fronted popular Māori TV talent quest Homai Te Pakipaki, winning Best Presenter at the 2012 NZ TV Awards. He is currently Native Affairs’ Australian correspondent.
Cinco Cine founder Nicole Hoey began her screen career in commercials, then produced 1995 telemovie Dead Certs. By the 21st century Cinco Cine was starting on te reo heavy youth show Pūkana, which was nominated for Best Children’s TV Programme at the New Zealand TV Awards in 2002. Hoey has continued to work on te reo broadcasting, and also produced TV movie Nights In The Gardens Of Spain.
Quinton Hita's broadcasting career has included stints as DJ, writer, actor and producer. His abilities in te reo first took Hita to radio, then a gig co-presenting TV's Mai Time. He went on to act in Crooked Earth and Shortland Street, where he also did time as a writer and Māori script editor. These days head of Kura Productions, Hita has produced many shows for Māori Television — plus his first feature, reggae tale Mt Zion.
Broadcaster, teacher and Māori language advocate Kōtuku Tibble spent his life championing te reo. Tibble boasted a diverse CV — he had a hand in the launch of te reo pop group, Aaria, taught around the North Island for 28 years, and presented shows for television and radio over more than a decade. The father of two passed away on 24 September 2017, at the age of 53.
Of Māori, Croatian and Belgian descent, Awanui Simich-Pene grew up in the far north. In 2003 her studies in Māori and sociology at Auckland University were swapped for a Unitec degree in writing and directing. Experience in front of the camera (including as the scheming Rima on reality parody Living the Dream) and behind it (as a script supervisor) led to directing gigs on a run of shows: from Riwia Brown-penned domestic drama Irirangi Bay, to bilingual kids show Pūkana and comedy Find Me a Māori Bride. In 2017 Simich-Pene was a director on anthology feature Waru (2017), as one of eight Māori wahine filmmakers.
Ex rapper Te Hamua Nikora cut his screen teeth as an early presenter of pioneering Māori youth show Pūkana (back when it was called Tūmeke). Later he became well known as a host of Kai Time on the Road, and as the bald-headed, big-hearted frontman of popular Māori TV karaoke shows Homai te Pakipaki and its successor Sidewalk Karaoke. In 2017 he teamed up with Laughing Samoan Tofiga Fepulea’i, for comedy show Hamu and Tofiga. Nikora has stood twice for the Mana Party in the Ikaroa-Rāwhiti electorate; he has hosted music and sports awards, Te Matatini, and is a motivational speaker and advocate for men’s health.
Helping friend Niki Caro on her film Whale Rider prompted Māori artist Tim Worrall to focus his energies into the screen industry. Worrall returned to university to study scriptwriting in Wellington, after giving feedback on the script for Caro's hit movie. Since finishing his Master of Arts in 2007, Worrall has gone on to write and direct award-winning short Tits on a Bull, direct on comedy show Only in Aotearoa and write for teen drama This is Piki. He has also written and co-directed two Loading Doc short documentaries: The Road to Whakarae and Kōtuku Rerenga Rua. His 2017 short film Meke starred Temuera Morrison.
Duane Evans Junior has been performing since he was a toddler, starting with adverts and modelling. His list of credits spans a diverse slate, from playing a young Billy T James (Billy), to a young Romeo (a JGeeks music video), and a recurring role on Shortland Street (as son of Vinnie Kruse). He has played lead roles in short films Possum, Ebony Society, and did an award-winning turn in I’m Going to Mum’s. In 2017 it was announced he would join the cast of James Cameron's Avatar sequels, as Roxto, a member of the oceanic Metkayina clan. Fluent in te reo, Evans Junior is sometimes credited as Duane Wichman-Evans Junior.