This collection celebrates all things equine on New Zealand screens. Since the early days of the colony, horses have been everything from nation builders (Cobb & Co) to national heroes (Phar Lap, Charisma) to companions (Black Beauty) to heartland icons. Whether work horse, war horse, wild horse, or show pony, horses have become a key part of this (Kiwi) way of life.
As the poster puts it, The Pā Boys is "about 'life, death and fu**ing good music'. It follows a Wellington band playing East Coast and Northland pubs, as they head for Cape Reinga. The trio find themselves on a roots journey that's both musical and personal (mateship, whānau, whakapapa). The cast includes singer Francis Kora, with songs by Warren Maxwell. Released in Kiwi cinemas on Waitangi Day 2014, Himiona Grace's first feature won positive reviews, and a Best Film gong at the 2014 Wairoa Māori Film Festival. Ainsley Gardiner (Boy) and Mina Mathieson (Warbrick) produced.
This fifth episode of comedian Mike King’s Treaty discovery series goes on the trail of the two sheets that travelled around the Bay of Plenty in 1840. One, carrying a forged signature, travelled east with young trader James Fedarb (King asks why, despite gathering 26 signatures in 28 days, the salesman is largely missing from the history books); the other went south with a pair of missionaries. King learns about the Te Arawa and Tūwharetoa refuseniks from Paul Tapsell — and from Tamati Kruger, the reason Fedarb didn’t venture into Tūhoe territory.
This Country Calendar episode profiles Billy Riddell, one of the few remaining drovers who was still moving herds the old fashioned way in the mid 1970s: “on the hoof” (the art of droving was being supplanted by rail and livestock trucks). The episode accompanies Riddell on a ‘drive’, as he moves a herd of cattle along the East Coast. Riddell’s narration recalls stampedes, river crossings, losing dogs and stock out to sea, the joys of butter, and why townies shouldn’t be on the roads: “the roads were there before cars were even blimmin' thought of”. He also reflects on a drover’s life.
Opotiki-raised Tama Waipara was studying performance clarinet at New York’s Manhattan School of Music when a freak accident (a fuse box fell on his head) put studies on hold. While convalescing, he took up singing and songwriting. Three albums and a return to Auckland later, Waipara is a fixture on the NZ music scene: known for his powerful voice and eclectic style — ‘Alt/ Soul/ Indie/ Maori’ says his Facebook page — and collaborations (Nathan Haines, Annie Crummer, Maisey Rika). Fill Up the Silence won the 2014 NZ Music Award for Best Roots Album.
Kim Webby first began directing while working as a TVNZ reporter. Alongside stints on Fair Go and 60 Minutes, she has directed a range of documentaries for both TVNZ and Māori Television. October 15, her film on the 2007 police raids, was nominated for an Aotearoa Television Award; in 2015 she helmed feature-length companion piece The Price of Peace, which screened at the 2015 NZ Film Festival.
Ainsley Gardiner, MNZM, has been a producer on a run of successful short films and hit movies. She worked with Taika Waititi and Cliff Curtis on Oscar-nominated short Tama Tu, and features Eagle vs Shark and Boy. Then Gardiner launched Miss Conception Films with fellow producer Georgina Conder. Their work includes hit comedy The Breaker Uppers and documentary She Shears.
Cast in the main role just three days before filming began, newbie actor James Rolleston proved a screen natural as star of box office sensation Boy. Aged only 11 at the time, the Ōpōtiki teen was nominated for a Qantas best actor award for his work in Taika Waititi's second feature. 2014 saw two more starring roles: as the son of a Māori chieftain in the Toa Fraser-directed Dead Lands, and an award-winning turn as a troubled teen in acclaimed chess and gangs drama The Dark Horse. Rolleston went on to co-star in a remake of car chase classic Goodbye Pork Pie, and an adaptation of Eleanor Catton novel The Rehearsal.
Stephen Stehlin has been involved with flagship Pacific show Tagata Pasifika for over 30 years. Alongside Ngaire Fuata and John Utanga, he launched SunPix in 2015. The company took over Tagata Pasifika after Television New Zealand outsourced its stable of Māori and Pacific programmes. Of Samoan descent, Stehlin has been honoured as both a Samoan matai chief, and as a Member of the NZ Order of Merit.
For more than 20 years, Haunui Royal has been driven by the desire to be part of a vibrant Māori voice in broadcasting. The director turned executive got his break at TVNZ in 1988, before directing everything from a long line of documentaries (The Truth about Māori), to entertainment (Havoc and Newsboy's Sellout Tour). Later he spent seven years as General Manager of Programming at Māori Television.