Five years after the Treaty of Waitangi's signing, tension between British and Māori was at boiling point. In the middle of nowhere in Northland, chief Te Ruki Kawiti devised a plan to fight back. His masterpiece was Ruapekapeka, a state of the art pā with underground tunnels, deep trenches and artillery bunkers. Journalist Mihingarangi Forbes visits the site to investigate how Māori — outnumbered four to one — survived a 10 day British bombardment. Produced by Great Southern Television and Radio NZ, NZ Wars won awards for Best Documentary, Māori Programme and Presenter.
Lee Tamahori's searing drama Once Were Warriors made Rena Owen a household name in New Zealand. The 1994 film's depiction of domestic violence within a Māori family left cinema goers shaken, and Owen's performance as the resolute Beth Heke made her career. In this documentary, Owen visits Māori women and men whose lives have been marred by family violence. Men who, with the help of organisations like Homai Te Rongopai Trust, are facing their abusive past, and women rape and abuse survivors who are finding new strength in their Māoritanga.
This Richard Riddiford-directed relationship drama explores the restless homecoming of a Kiwi from her OE. Monica (Judy McIntosh) returns from Europe to sculptor Nick (Peter Hayden), who has stayed behind in Waiuku. She goads him into a road trip north, searching for connection to him and home. At a Dargaville pub they meet Riki (Rawiri Paratene), a charismatic poet who has left the city to find his Ngapuhi roots. Monica is intrigued by Riki's bond to his people and the land, which widens a rift between her and Nick. Caution: this excerpt contains bath tub sax.
TV producer Claudette Hauiti (Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi) began her career as a sports journalist on radio before moving to television news. In later years, her production company Front of the Box made ground-breaking Māori series such as Eye to Eye and Takatāpui, as well as the award-winning documentaries Gang Girls and Children of the Revolution.
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.
“When old and young come together to do this, it shows the strength of their convictions.” This film is a detailed chronicle of a key moment in the Māori renaissance: the 1975 land march led by then 79-year-old Whina Cooper. A coalition of Māori groups set out from the far north for Wellington, opposed to further loss of their land. This early Geoff Steven documentary includes interviews with many on the march, including Eva Rickard, Tama Poata and Whina Cooper. There is stirring evidence of Cooper’s oratory skills. Steven writes about making the film in the backgrounder.
Jarod Rawiri has played everyone from a sensitive nice guy (in his first big feature role, 2007‘s Jinx Sister) to Hōne Heke — his performance as the Ngāpuhi chief in TV's Waitangi: What Really Happened was nominated for a 2011 Aotearoa TV Award. Having acted in two short films for director Michael Bennett, the Toi Whakaari acting graduate went on to join ensemble drama Matariki, Bennett’s first movie. Rawiri played a grieving brother. He has also acted in quake series Hope and Wire, and was one of the soldiers in award-winning Taika Waititi short Tama Tū. In 2015 he joined soap Shortland Street, as Dad Mo Hannah.
Christina Milligan has done time as an actor and scriptwriter, but it is producing that she loves most. Milligan began producing at TVNZ, and after classic movie The End of the Golden Weather, did eight years as a writer and script editor in Australia. Currently running company Conbrio with her partner Roger Grant, her producing resume includes documentary Let My Whakapapa Speak and executive producing hit film Mt Zion.
Actor Heather Lindsay (now Heather Randerson) cemented her part in New Zealand television history as one of the original cast of the country’s first bona-fide soap hit, Close to Home. Alongside her theatre work, she enjoyed an extensive screen career in the 80s and 90s, acting alongside some of the biggest talents of the day.
Mairi Gunn began working in the camera department in the mid 80s. Since then she has shot music videos (including Outer Space for The 3Ds), short films, and the feature-length Gravity & Grace (directed by Chris Kraus). Gunn shot and co-produced award-winning documentary Restoring the Mauri of Lake Omapere, looking at the history and future of a Northland lake.