This documentary tells the story of Moana Ngārimu the sole soldier from the Māori Battalion to be awarded (posthumously) the Victoria Cross during WWII. On 26th March 1943, at Tebaga Gap in Tunisia, the Second Lieutenant took a key position and defended it (as well as injured men) overnight, before being killed in a counter-attack. He was 24. The doco was made for TVNZ for the 50th anniversary of his death. It looks at his life and features moving archive and interviews with Ngārimu's friends and family in Ruatoria, and battalion comrades. Presented by Wira Gardiner.
Bros meets The Bachelor in this Māori Television reality show, billed as a "hunt for the ultimate Polynesian warrior". The contestants' muscles might look good, but do the personal trainers and dancers have their ancestors’ skills? This first episode tests the 12 usos in spear throwing, waka portage and hakamoa (Hawaiian wrestling). The show swapped po-faced reality TV conventions for Polynesian humour – dropped lavalavas and tattooed torsos are slathered with innuendo by hosts Pani and Pani (Goretti Chadwick and Anapela Polataivao) – and became a Māori TV hit.
Mai Time was an influential magazine show for Māori youth, exploring te ao Māori and pop culture (it was one of the first shows to show local hip-hop), with presenters speaking in te reo and English. Running for 12 years, it began as a slot on Marae, then screened on Saturday mornings on TV2. Mai Time was a breeding ground for Māori television talent: launching the careers of Stacey Morrison (nee Daniels), Quinton Hita, Teremoana Rapley and others. It was the brainchild of Tainui Stephens, and was produced by Greg Mayor, then from 2004 by Anahera Higgins.
Bilingual Māori singer Ria Hall (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Te Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Waikato) was born in Tauranga and has a background in kapa haka. She fronted reggae band Hope Road and has been a live backing vocalist for Hollie Smith and Trinity Roots. Hall describes her own music as "roots/neo-soul". She sang the Rugby World Cup anthem at the 2011 opening ceremony; the following year her self-titled album was named album of the year at the NZ Music Awards.
The late Whai Ngata (Ngāti Porou, Whānau ā Apanui), NZOM, had a long and distinguished career in television, radio and print. Beginning as a Māori reporter for The Auckland Star, Ngata moved on to Radio New Zealand in 1975, then joined TVNZ in 1983. Soon he was reading the news in Māori on Te Karere. Along with Ernie Leonard, he helped set up the Māori Programmes department at TVNZ, and was a key member of the Waka Huia team. In 1994 Ngata became head of the Māori department and was instrumental in creating long-running programmes like Marae and Mai Time.
Ainsley Gardiner (Te-Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Awa) fell in love with the magic of the big screen while growing up in Whakatane, where you could find her most Fridays at the local cinema catching the latest release. Her first formal foray into film and television came in 1995 when she joined producer Larry Parr at Kahukura Productions, eventually producing low budget feature Kombi Nation (2003) and co-producing the 26-part comedy/drama TV series Love Bites (2002). Following the demise of Kahukura, Gardiner teamed up with Taika Waititi to work on Oscar-nominated short film Two Cars, One Night. Soon after that she established Whenua Films with actor/producer Cliff Curtis. Together the trio struck creative gold with World War II short Tama Tū, Waititi's debut feature Eagle vs Shark and box office hit Boy.
Taika Waititi [Te-Whānau-a-Apanui] acted in movies Scarfies and Snakeskin, TV show The Strip (sometimes under the credit Taika Cohen), and appeared on stage as a stand-up comedian. Turning his creative energies towards directing, he made Oscar-nominated short Two Cars, One Night, and Tama Tū, based on the experiences of The Māori Battalion in WWII. He has gone on to great success directing (and sometimes appearing in) feature films.
Māori Battalion - March To Victory tells the story of the New Zealand Army's (28th) Māori Battalion, which fought in campaigns during World War ll. Director and writer Tainui Stephens sets out in the feature-length documentary to tell the stories of five men who served with the unit, and also "capture how they felt about it". Narration by actor George Henare, remembrances, visits to historic sites, archival footage, and graphic stills create a respectful and stirring screen testament to the men who fought in the Battalion. Stephens writes about the film in the backgrounder.
Sometime actor Taika Waititi has clearly sunk his teeth into directing. His 2005 short film Two Cars, One Night was Oscar-nominated. Second feature Boy (2010) became the most successful Kiwi film released on its home soil — at least until the arrival of Waititi's fourth movie, Barry Crump inspired adventure comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople. In 2017 Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok became an international hit.