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.
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.
This animated TV comedy series is a modern day fairytale following the adventures of five kids growing up in one of Auckland's grungier suburbs. With a fearless, un-PC wit and Simpsons-esque celebrity cameos, it managed to be primetime and family-friendly. The popular show was made by Firehorse Films, and developed from the brazen and poly-saturated comedy of theatre group Naked Samoans. Screening on TV3 for five series it won Best Comedy at the NZ Screen Awards three years running and a Qantas Award for Ant Sang's production design. "Morningside for life!"
This long-running weekday series was aimed at Māori and Pacific Island viewers. Presented by young Kiwi-Samoan Ramona Papali'i, the five-minute long show was broadcast during lunchtimes from 1980 to 1986. Papali'i, who had worked on earlier television show Pacific Viewpoint, was one of the only Pacific Islanders on-screen at the time. Donna Awatere Huata also made an appearance, instructing how children could be taught to read. After See Here went off air, Pacific Island magazine show Tagata Pasifika began a multidecade run in 1987.
This TVNZ entertainment special showcased Pacific Island contemporary and traditional fashion design, as well as music and dance. The live event and the TV show were both produced by Stan Wolfgramm and Julie Smith; Wolfgramm usually co-hosted along with someone from the TVNZ's stable of talent. The first Style Pasifika special screened in 2000 (the live show had been covered by TVNZ’s regular Pacific magazine series Tagata Pasifika prior to that). The live event continued until 2011.
Over four seasons, Street Legal’s slick Kiwi take on urban crime and law genres racked up a stack of award nominations - including a 2003 NZ TV Award for best drama series. Although initially wary that the Auckland setting might alienate viewers, writer Greg McGee chose a Samoan lawyer (Jay Laga’aia) as his main character, to exploit the show’s inner-city Ponsonby setting (where cafe society bumps into Pacific Island immigrant culture). Other key characters included Silesi’s lawyer ex-girlfriend Joni, and her new partner Kees, an overstressed sergeant.
Comedians Eteuati Ete and Tofiga Fepulea'i launched their stage act in 2003. For the next 13 years they toured Laughing Samoan shows through Australasia, the Pacific Islands and beyond. Skits lampooned PI life in Niu Sila; subjects ranged from 'island time' to funerals, and included popular characters like Aunty Tala (played by Fepulea'i). The eight-part series was conceived by Aaron Taouma and produced by TVNZ’s Pasifika department. Pairing sketches and interviews with excerpts from a Laughing Samoans theatre tour, it was given an 11pm timeslot on TV2.
By the 21st Century nearly 100,000 spectators and participants attended the popular annual schools showcase of Māori and Pacific Island dance. In 2016 Māori Television provided coverage of the Māori Stage. In 2017 there were 50 30-minute episodes, hosted by Sonny Ngatai (presenter of Hahana). They featured performances and interviews with rangatahi by Puawai Taiapa and social media names the Cougar Boys and Chardé Heremaia. The 2017 theme was 'Me Poipoi te Rangatiratanga i tona Ahurea – Nurturing Leadership Through Culture'.
Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an inner city Auckland hospital. The long-running South Pacific Pictures production is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the hospital's staff and patients. It screens on TVNZ’s TV2 network five days a week. In 2017 the show was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary, making it New Zealand’s longest running drama by far. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture — starting with “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!” in the very first episode. Mihi Murray writes about Shortland Street here.
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.