Debuting on TV Four as Tūmeke in 1999, children's show Pūkana was pioneering in its use of te reo. Given a new title when it moved to TV3 in its second year, it later began an epic run on Māori Television. Taking contemporary kids' culture cues, Pūkana features game shows, send-ups, talent quests and music. It emphasises ‘street’ rather than marae-style language. Made by company Cinco Cine, it has won three awards for best show in its category, and two nominations for children’s programme. Past presenters include Mātai Smith, Quinton Hita and Te Hamua Nikora.
The title track from Moana and the Moahunters’ gold-selling first album celebrates wahine and Māori cultural pride, via what singer Moana Maniapoto called “haka house music”. The fusion of traditional Māori sounds with contemporary grooves got to number nine in the charts. It was co-written with Andrew McNaughton and features vocalist Hareruia Aperahama (‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf’). Kerry Brown's video cuts the group singing together with kapa haka (the acclaimed Te Waka Huia) and whānau playing. Brown also directed the video for the group’s groundbreaking ‘AEIOU’.
Tangata Whenua was a groundbreaking six-part series from 1974, on Māori. Barry Barclay directed, and historian Michael King was writer and interviewer. Each episode (remarkably screening in primetime on Sunday nights) chronicled a different iwi and included interviews with kaumātua — a first for New Zealand screens. This episode looks at the people of Waikato, and focuses on the Kīngitanga (Māori King Movement), examining why a movement formed in the Waikato in the 19th century to halt land sales and promote Māori authority has contemporary relevance.
Almost two decades before Once Were Warriors, another drama about urban Māori under pressure stirred controversy. Hema (Dale Williams) and Janey (Julie Wehipeihana) are two kids adrift in the city, trying to escape a broken home. Screen historian Trisha Dunleavy found this "the most powerful and controversial" edition of the Winners & Losers series; it was TV's first drama about "the alienation of Māori in a contemporary urban setting". Based on a Witi Ihimaera story, it also marked the first solo directing credit for Ian Mune. He later directed the sequel to Once Were Warriors.
In November 1970 a New Zealand tourism fashion presentation designed for Australian audiences took place at Auckland Museum. Dancing models wore traditional Māori motifs, combined with contemporary fashion — then still a novelty. The designs include work by Kowhai Knitwear's Janice Hopper and Ann Rupe (who is heard on the soundtrack). Rupe had won the Coat and Suit section at the New Zealand Fashion Showcase '69, aged 20. The Taniko motifs were painstakingly beaded or individually painted on to the garments, rather than screen-printed.
This trippy animation follows the spirit of a person killed in a motorway car accident. The life force (wairua) runs through forest and beaches on its journey to Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Rēinga). En route it meets tourist buses and other spirits, before reaching the gnarly pohutukawa and making the leap towards Hawaiki-Nui. There's a real native joy in seeing contemporary 80s animation enliven ancient Māori spiritual concepts. Joe Wylie (Toy Love's Bride of Frankenstein) was in charge of the animation team; The Clean provide the soundtrack to the all-stops-out finale.
Award-winning series Aroha was born from a desire to tell contemporary love stories in te reo. The six subtitled stories by Māori writers explored love from many angles. Aroha involved established names (Temuera Morrison, Rena Owen, Paora Maxwell), and emerging talents (writer Briar Grace-Smith, actor/director Tearapa Kahi). Filming began in mid 2001; in 2002 three episodes played at the Auckland International Film Festival. Aroha was the brainchild of Karen Sidney, Joanna Paul, and the late Melissa Wikaire. The series was made in tribute to late filmmaker Cherie O'Shea.
This 1981 NFU film is a tour of the contemporary world of Aotearoa’s tangata whenua. It won headlines over claims that its portrayal of Māori had been sanitised for overseas viewers. Debate and a recut ensued. Writer Witi Ihimaera felt that mentions of contentious issues (Bastion Point, the land march) in his original script were ignored or elided in the final film, and withdrew from the project. He later told journalists that the controversy showed that educated members of minority groups were no longer prepared to let the majority interpret the minority view.
This courtroom drama sets in conflict opinions about the proposed sale of a block of Māori ancestral land. The arguments are intercut with footage of the 1975 land march, and Jim Moriarty comments on proceedings as a tangata whenua conscience. The drama shows its stage origins (it was adapted by Rowley Habib from his 1976 play) but it is passionate and articulate, and is notable as the first TV drama to be written by a Māori scriptwriter. The grievances aired echoed contemporary events, particularly the Eva Rickard-led occupation of the Raglan Golf Course.
Named after the exaggerated facial expressions performed in a haka, this long-running children's series emphasises the energy of contemporary youth culture. Made by company Cinco Cine, Pūkana was pioneering in Māori language programming for kids. This 2015 episode sees the crew of reporters stunt driving, skydiving, camping, kayaking, bungy jumping, and hanging out with a tarantula. The crew includes past Homai te Pakipaki champ Pikiteora Mura-Hitai, and veteran Pūkana presenter Tiara Tāwera, who is about to follow Mātai Smith and switch to directing on the show.