A taonga in Māori culture is a treasured thing, whether tangible (eg. a letter, photo, or heirloom) or intangible (eg. a family story). This series uses taonga — whose protection is enshrined in the Treaty of Waitangi — as a starting point to tell dramatic Māori stories from the last 150 years. Weaving documentary techniques with re-enactments, Taonga features the stories of Guide Sophia, Sir Maui Pomare and Penetito Hawea among others. It screened on Māori Television in 2006, and featured actors Ian Mune, Rawiri Paratene, Taungaroa Emile and Miriama McDowell.
Rangatira was a five-part doco series that aired on TVNZ in 1998. Rangatira means ‘chief’ and the series profiles the lives and achievements of five Māori leaders: decorated war hero Sir Charles Bennett; visionary educationist Professor Whatarangi Winiata; pioneering film-maker Merata Mita; Māori Party co-leader Dr Pita Sharples; and former Act MP Donna Awatere-Huata. Archive footage is cut with extensive interviews with the subjects, whānau, and colleagues, while the impressive production credits include Don Selwyn, Tainui Stephens, Derek Fox and Larry Parr.
Moana Maniapoto and Toby Mills' documentary series recorded interviews with end-of millennium Māori elders (including Maniapoto's nan Kaa Rakaupai) in four hour-long episodes, revisiting a time when tribal traditions, beliefs and customs were still strong, but when Māori children had their mouths washed with soap for speaking te reo at school. The series, filmed in te reo, was co-funded by Te Mangai Paho and screened on TVNZ and at French and Finnish film festivals. Episode tahi won Best Māori Programme at the 2000 NZ TV Awards.
Each episode of this award-winning te reo series looks a building or structure of special significance to its community. Architect Rau Hoskins interviews locals to find out about architecture, construction, and social and cultural history, and delve into each building's mauri and wairua. Waitangi's Treaty House, the whare at Parihaka Pā, the globetrotting Mātaatua meeting house, and a wharenui buried by the 1996 Tarawera eruption all featured. Four seasons were made by Scottie Productions; the first was named Best Māori Language Programme at the 2012 NZ TV Awards.
In this 10-part Māori Television series from 2015, three young people go aboard a traditional waka, on a six week trip around the North Island. Waka Warrior grew out of a larger project where seven traditional waka undertook a two year, 22,000 nautical mile trip from Auckland to North America and back, via the Pacific. The waka Haunui becomes a wi-fi free 'floating marae' for the students, as they are mentored in the "ancient laws of voyaging". The series was created by Anna Marbrook and veteran waka skipper Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr, and produced by Auckland company Zoomslide.
TVNZ publicity described Ngā Reo like this: “Each episode of Ngā Reo features the story of a Māori person or people and their unique kaupapa: the reason they have been put on this earth, their individual stories and also our national stories." The series soon widened its scope, with episodes on Rastafarianism, performances in Greece by Taki Rua theatre group, and the story behind Napier's Pania of the Reef statue. The episode on activist Syd Jackson won the 2003 NZ TV Award for Best Māori Programme.
This 2016 Māori Television reality series follows Te Urewera-bred, Cambridge-based bushman Owen Boynton as he travels Aotearoa – from the East coast to the Chathams – exploring traditional hunting techniques and the kaupapa behind them. The focus is on hunting as a way of life and to provide kai, rather than as a recreational pursuit or paleo diet fad. Eight 30 minute episodes of hunting, fishing and bushcraft screened in 2016. Produced by Julian Arahanga and Awa Films, the series sprung from bow-maker Boynton’s large following on Facebook.
This staple of Māori Television has been on the hunt for over a decade. Host Howard Morrison Junior’s amiable way with his fellow hunters as they head to the best spots to stalk deer or pigs, connected with camo-clad viewers. No hyped up Bear Grylls types here: just good, keen Kiwi hunters getting kai the old-fashioned way for their whānau, bagging trophies or helping protect native wildlife. In the eighth season (2012) Morrison handed the presenter's rifle to ex-rugby star Matua Parkinson; ex All Black Glen Osborne took over for the eleventh season, before Morrison's return.
Five-part series The New Zealand Wars took a new look at the history of Māori vs Pākehā armed conflict. It was presented by historian James Belich, who with his arm-waving zeal proved a persuasive on-screen presence: "we don't need to look overseas for our Robin Hood, our Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, or Gandhi". The popular series reframed NZ history, and its stories of Hōne Heke, Governor Grey, Tītokowaru, Te Whiti, Von Tempsky and Te Kooti, easily affirmed Belich's conviction. The New Zealand Wars was judged Best Documentary at the 1998 Qantas Media Awards.
Te Araroa is a 3000 kilometre walkway running from Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Rēinga) to the southern tip of Te Waipounamu (the South Island). It opened in late 2011, and was quickly acclaimed as one of the world’s great walking treks. Each hour long episode of this series sees entertainer Pio Terei go on a hīkoi along a segment of the trail, crossing picturesque landscapes and meeting the people who inhabit them, from bagpipe blowers, stuntmen and eel catchers to “knitting ninjas” and conservationists. Two seven-part series were produced by Scottie Productions.