Actor Matariki Whatarau has appeared on screens both big (co-starring as reggae musician Tau, in road movie The Pā Boys) and small (Go Girls). In 2015 he began playing a metrosexual Māori accountant out of touch with his culture, in acclaimed TV comedy Find Me a Māori Bride. He went on to portray Exponents bassist Dave Gent in TV movie Why Does Love? The award-winning theatre actor (I, George Nepia) trained at drama school Toi Whakaari. Also a singer, Whatarau has made screen appearances as part of The Modern Māori Quartet, including co-hosting TV's My Party Song. He presented 2015's My Reggae Song.
Reporter, musician and most importantly music fan, Dylan Taite can be fairly claimed as the man who brought some of the most left field musical talent to prime-time TV. Some of his interviews are legendary — others, like his sit-down with reggae legend Bob Marley, historically important. All were done with an eye for invention, a sharp turn of phrase and a touch of eccentricity that made his reports a must-see for music fans.
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.
Moana Maniapoto (MNZM) is a musician acclaimed for fusing traditional Māori and modern sounds (Moana and the Moahunters, Moana and the Tribe). With partner Toby Mills she has made award-winning films exploring Te Ao Māori, from cultural IP to activist Syd Jackson. Maniapoto has also appeared onscreen as a political commentator, fronted 90s kids show Yahoo, and played Doctor Aniwa Ryan on Shortland Street.
Tainui Stephens is a veteran maker and presenter of television. Since starting work on Koha in 1984, Stephens has been responsible for bringing many Māori stories to the screen. Notable historical stories he has helmed amongst his extensive screenography include Māori Battalion documentary March to Victory, Let My Whakapapa Speak, and award-winning TV series The New Zealand Wars.
Libby Hakaraia has an overflowing kete of credits, covering subjects from Fat Freddy’s Drop to Apirana Ngata, Anzac Day to Anne Salmond. The ex-radio journalist had a screen apprenticeship at Kiwa Productions, where she made many docos on Māori themes. Based in Otaki, she now produces shows with partner Tainui Stephens under the Blue Bach banner, including the popular Māori Television reboot of It’s in the Bag.
Danielle Cormack has showcased her naturalistic, seemingly effortless acting style on both sides of the Tasman. After roles in TV soaps Gloss and Shortland Street, she began a run of big screen starring roles — Topless Women Talk About Their Lives, The Price of Milk and Via Satellite (playing twins). On Australian TV, Cormack has starred as a prisoner (Wentworth), crime lord (Underbelly: Razor) and barrister (Rake).
Himiona Grace learnt about filmmaking at Wellington’s legendary Pacific Films. Former poutakawaenga (Māori liaison officer) at the Film Archive, Grace has composed music for a variety of shorts and television programmes; the longtime photographer has also won awards for his stills. In 2013 he wrote and directed his first feature film: The Pā Boys, which follows a reggae trio from Wellington on a road trip north.