He learnt kapa haka as a child. He learnt to smoulder on Shortland Street. He punched a country in the guts with Once Were Warriors. Temuera Morrison has starred in Māori westerns, adventure romps, and cannibal comedies. In the backgrounder to this special collection, NZ On Screen editor Ian Pryor traces Temuera Morrison's journey from haka to Hollywood.
The meteoric career of one of NZ’s greatest entertainers is examined in this documentary. John Rowles went from a Kawerau childhood to stardom in London at 21; but, after headlining in Hawaii and Las Vegas, he saw it all slip away. Those roofing ads and near bankruptcy followed, but Rowles has retained his self belief and that voice. A stellar cast of interviewees analyse his strengths and weaknesses, including Sir Cliff Richard, Tom Jones, Neil Finn and late promoter Phil Warren. Amongst the star cameos, John’s sister Cheryl Moana explains the downside of his best-known local hit.
John Clarke created an unofficial Kiwi national anthem when his alter ego Fred Dagg first released 'We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are' in 1975, simultaneously celebrating and poking fun at national pride. This video is a 1998 update of the song, instigated by TV's SportsCafe. Times change, but the recipe remains the same: "good clean ball and for God's sakes feed your backs!" Alongside a roll call of celebrities, politicians and sports stars — Sean Fitzpatrick, Chris Cairns, Zinzan Brooke — Clarke spreads the grateful gospel at the United Nations.
Once Were Warriors opened the eyes of cinemagoers around the globe to an unexamined aspect of modern New Zealand life. Director Lee Tamahori's hard-hitting depiction of domestic and gang violence amongst an urban Māori whānau was adapted from the best-selling Alan Duff novel. The film provided career-defining roles for Temuera Morrison and Rena Owen as Jake the Muss and Beth Heke. It remains NZ's most watched local release in terms of bums on seats. Among a trio of backgrounders, Riwia Brown writes about adapting Duff's book for the screen.
This film is about the redemption of Jake the Muss. It picks up the story after Jake has turned his back on his family (his wife has left him to escape the violence) and is up to his usual tricks in McClutchy's Bar. After one of his sons dies suspiciously in a gang fight, another sets out to find revenge, accompanied by young gang member Tania (Nancy Brunning). Scripted by Alan Duff and directed by Ian Mune, the film was the second-highest-earning NZ film of the 1990s, (eclipsed only by Once Were Warriors). It scooped most of the categories at the 1999 NZ Film & TV Awards.
Actress Rena Owen came to fame through her role as matriarch Beth Heke in the hard-hitting feature film Once Were Warriors. She now works internationally, but has returned to New Zealand for Vincent Ward's Rain of the Children and Fiona Samuel's Piece of My Heart.
Riwia Brown is a Māori playwright and scriptwriter who won the Best Screenplay award for her adaptation of Alan Duff's novel Once Were Warriors. She has written and directed strong Māori roles for the stage and screen.
Keith Hunter is an award-winning writer and documentary maker, known for his investigations into miscarriages of justice. His screen credits include The Remand of Ivan Curry, Out of the Dark, Staunch, and award-winner Murder on the Blade?, about the Scott Watson case. Hunter has also directed drama and comedy on shows such as Mortimer's Patch and Letter to Blanchy.
Geoff Dixon began making commercials in the 70s — the decade he launched legendary ad company Silverscreen Productions, whose clients included Cadbury, Toyota, Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines. Ranging across New Zealand and beyond, his work includes iconic images of South Island back roads, Barry Crump crashing utes through the bush, and Michael Hurst singing a war cry for the Kiwi bloke.
Ray Waru has been a prolific television producer and director since the 1970s, specialising in Māori, heritage and historical programming. He established the first Māori production unit and has been involved in a range of ground-breaking, award-winning shows, while operating his own media company for over 20 years. In 2006 Waru was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for services to broadcasting.