This episode of Pioneer Women dramatises the life of Waikato leader Te Puea Herangi: from prodigal daughter to leader of the Tainui people. Te Puea helped establish the Kingitanga movement, and led Tainui to prosperity through wars, confiscation of their land, and an influenza epidemic. Future TV3 newsreader Joanna Paul plays Te Puea. Produced by Pamela Meekings-Stewart, the Pioneer Women series screened in a high profile slot on TV One and challenged the view that white male statesmen were the only noteworthy figures in NZ colonial history.
This collection celebrates women and feminism in New Zealand — the first country in the world to give all women the vote. We shine the light on a line of female achievers: suffrage pioneers, educators, unionists, politicians, writers, musicians, mothers and feminist warriors — from Kate Sheppard to Sonja Davies to Shona Laing. In her backgrounder, TV veteran and journalism tutor Allison Webber writes how the collection helps us understand and honour our past, asks why feminism gets a bad rap, and considers the challenges faced by feminism in connecting past and present.
The early life of Dame Whina Cooper, one of the most influential Māori leaders of the 20th century, is explored in the first episode of this two-part TVNZ profile. The inspirational leader of the 1975 Māori land march was born in Hokianga in 1897. She recalls her first protest at age 18, working with her people to improve their land (spurring them on with a whistle given to her by Sir Apirana Ngata) and becoming a pig breeder (with aid from Princess Te Puea). She also reminisces about a Tuhoe leader who gave new meaning to the idea of fiery oratory.
The largest gathering ever seen of Māori tribal war canoes (waka taua) was one of the centrepieces of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1990. This documentary, narrated by Tukuroirangi Morgan, followed the ambitious countrywide programme to build the ornately carved waka, and assemble them at Waitangi as a demonstration of Māori pride and unity. The 22 strong fleet, powered by 1,000 paddlers, also fulfilled a dream of Tainui leader Princess Te Puea Herangi that had been curtailed 50 years earlier by World War II.
The award-winning Pioneer Women series was producer Pamela Meekings-Stewart’s response to her perception that histories on NZ television, like The Governor, hadn’t adequately recognised the role played by women in shaping the nation. The initial series of six episodes focussed on the lives of Nurse Maude, Ettie Rout, Hera Ngoungou, Princess Te Puea, Elizabeth Colsenso and Ellen Hewett; it celebrated women who not only had to face hardship and deprivation but were charged with raising the next generation. A second series of three episodes screened in 1990.
The seven-part Pounamu series was was produced by TVNZ's Māori Programmes Department to mark 150 years since the signing of the treaty. It tells the stories of several iconic Māori figures including politician Sir Apirana Ngata, pacifist activists Te Whiti and Tohu, resistance fighter Te Kooti, Guide Rangi, Princess Te Puea, prophet Ratana, and fighting chief Kawiti. "The Pounamu series is an iconic one because of the mana of the subjects and because we need to be reminded occasionally of the important things that happened long ago." (Whai Ngata).
Though Pamela Meekings-Stewart's work as a producer and director ranges widely, she has often been drawn to documentaries involving women and the arts. Her Feltex award-winning series Pioneer Women dramatised the lives of six women, from Princess Te Puea to Ettie Rout. These days she runs retreats from her farm in Pukerua Bay. Meekings-Stewart is sometimes credited as Pamela Jones.
Michael King was widely recognized as a leading chronicler of Aotearoa and its people. King wrote over 30 books, ranging from Māori culture to the bestselling The Penguin History of New Zealand. In 1974 he presented landmark documentary series Tangata Whenua. Later his books fuelled documentaries about writers Frank Sargeson and Janet Frame, while King himself was the subject of 2004's The History Man.
A passionate advocate for Māori creative control, director Merata Mita (1942 — 2010) chronicled landmark moments of protest and division in Aotearoa. Her work included Patu!, a documentary on the 1981 Springbok tour, and Mauri (1988), only the second feature to have a Māori woman as director. She features in documentaries Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen and Merata Mita - Making Waves.
Scriptwriter Jane Galletly entered the New Zealand television industry at a time when women writers were few and far between. Long drawn to the everyday lives of working people, she has devised and written award-winning drama (Moynihan, Pioneer Women), and worked on hours of classic soap, from Close to Home to EastEnders.