NZ On Screen's Pacific Collection celebrates many things — many islands, many cultures, and the many Pasifika creatives who have enriched Aotearoa, by bringing their stories to the screen. The collection is curated by Stephen Stehlin, whose involvement in flagship Pacific magazine show Tagata Pasifika goes back to its very first season. In his backgrounder, Stehlin touches on sovereignty, diversity, Polyfest and bro'Town — and the relationship between Pacific peoples and Māori in Aotearoa.
Future film producer Fiona Copland (The Price of Milk) is the reporter for this September 1984 piece on the New Zealand School of Dance in Wellington. Flashdance (1983) is in the air and Lionel Ritchie hit 'Running with the Night' is the soundtrack, as the wannabes aim to impress the likes of Limbs director Mary Jane O'Reilly. The students include Taiaroa Royal and Fenella Bathfield. Bathfield would shortly find local fame as host of after school programmes 3:45 LIVE! and The Bugs Bunny Show. The report screened on long-running arts programme Kaleidoscope.
According to Māori legend Aotearoa was found by the explorer Kupe, chasing an octopus from Ra'iatea, Tahiti. This documentary follows Northland building contractor Hekenukumai 'Hector' Busby, as he leads the construction of a waka hourua (double-hulled canoe), then retraces Kupe's course across the Pacific, back to Rarotonga. Busby first heads to Tahiti to learn navigation methods used by Polynesia's great ocean voyagers, then returns home to fell a kauri and begin building Te Aurere. Busby would go on to build at least another 20 waka; he passed away in May 2019.
Presented by Samoan hip hop artist King Kapisi and transgender rock queen Ramon Te Wake, Pasifika 2005 documents the biggest Polynesian festival in the world. Held in Auckland every year since 1992, the Pasifika Festival is a free event that celebrates Pacific Island culture, music, dance, food, arts and crafts and film. Held at Western Springs Park, and supported by Auckland City Council, Pasifika (as it's popularly known) attracts more than 140,000 people. Pasifika 2005 was screened on TV2.
This collection is a celebration of the eccentric, exuberant career of NZ screen industry frontrunner Tony Williams. As well as being at the helm of many iconic ads (Crunchie, Bugger, Spot, Dear John) Williams made inventive, award-winning indie TV documentaries, and shot or directed pioneering feature films, including Solo and cult horror Next of Kin.
This collection celebrates rugby in New Zealand as it has been seen onscreen: from classic bios and tour docos, to social history, dramas and protest. In the accompanying backgrounders, broadcaster Keith Quinn looks at the on air history of rugby in NZ; and playwright David Geary asks if rugby is a religion, and argues it is a good test of character.
A homage to Dusky Maiden images as well as a playful take on the low art of velvet painting, Sima Urale’s Velvet Dreams provides a tongue-in-cheek exploration of Pacific Island stereotypes. Part detective story, part documentary, an unseen narrator goes in search of a painting of a Polynesian princess that he has fallen in love with. Along the way he meets artists, fans and critics of the kitsch art genre, as well as the mysterious Gauguin-like figure of Charlie McPhee. Made for TVNZ's Work of Art series, Velvet Dreams played in multiple international film festivals.
Tama Poata's wide-ranging contributions to our culture can be glimpsed through his appearances on-screen: from campaigns for Māori land rights (in 1975 doco Te Matakite O Aotearoa) and against the Springbok tour (Patu!), to his many acting roles. He also directed documentaries and wrote landmark 1987 movie Ngati, the first feature written (and directed) by Māori.
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.
With 2012 film Tongan Ark, Paul Janman celebrated bilcultural philosopher Futa Helu and the independent university he founded in Nuku'alofa. A sellout at the NZ Film Festival, the documentary's global screenings included travels around the Pacific, often accompanied by live performances. Janman himself is Welsh/English, but raised in Aotearoa. While occupied by various art projects, he also teaches screen production at Auckland University of Technology. Featuring historians, tohunga, actors and gamers, his next documentary is a journey through myth and reality on Auckland's Great South Road.