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.
This film documents the influential 1979 New Zealand tour of a black theatre group from London arts centre Keskidee. They visit marae, perform at The Gluepot, prisons and youth centres; meet gang members, Ratana ministers and a young Tame Iti; and korero about roots and fights for rights. The made-for-TV film was directed by Merata Mita and Martyn Sanderson. On the tour Sanderson met his future wife, Kenyan actor Wanjiku Kairie. Tour instigator Denis O’Reilly argued in 2009 that the doco is “full of insights at a time of huge social and cultural shifts in Aotearoa.”
Auckland band Herbs could have released their new album in the comfortable confines of an Auckland nightclub. Instead, they travelled to Ruatoria — a troubled and divided East Coast town where turmoil surrounding a Rastafarian sect had resulted in assaults, kidnappings and firebombed churches. Lee Tamahori and John Day's documentary captures an emotional experience for band and locals as they meet at Mangahanea Marae, in an attempt to shift the focus from disunity to harmony. This footage also yielded the award-winning Sensitive to a Smile music video.
Poetry, satire and music were the mainstays of Gary McCormick’s life, before he took his unique world view to television. His on screen career began with the award-winning documentary Raglan by the Sea, on which he collaborated with filmmaker Bruce Morrison. McCormick's best-known TV series was Heartland, which ran for four years and told the stories of communities across the country. In the mid 90s McCormick teamed up with his buddy and fellow poet Sam Hunt for a romp around New Zealand in the celebrated documentary The Roaring 40’s Tour. In 1998 McCormick returned to his home town of Porirua to host The Bay Boys – a gripping documentary about life in the suburb. Since then McCormick has hosted other talk shows and was a guest host on Nightline. Now resident in Lyttelton, McCormick shares hosting duties on More FM in Christchurch with his mate Simon Barnett.
Innocent Gert, who works in a rubbish dump, can't believe his luck when he's ordered by his boss to take his beautiful mute daughter, Princess Plum, to meet her prospective husband. The two set off on a mythical quest through a fairytale Far North landscape. On the way they encounter freaks and monsters, and experience danger and romance. In an unusual reversal, the voices and music for Woodenhead were all recorded before filming. This surreal second feature from Elam art school grad Florian Habicht took Aotearoa to the arthouse with unprecedented weirdness and wonder.
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.
Rose Matafaeo won attention in 2018 when, at age 26, she won the top comedy award at the Edinburgh Festival. Matafeo has also made a mark on-screen. She was a presenter on TVNZ youth show U Live, before writing and performing for Jono and Ben. A lead writer and co-star of sketch show Funny Girls, she has become a regular face on English television. In 2019 she began making Kiwi film comedy Baby, Done.
Temuera Morrison was acting on screen at age 11. Two decades later he won Kiwi TV immortality as Dr Ropata in Shortland Street, and rave global reviews as abusive husband Jake Heke in Once Were Warriors. Since reprising his Warriors role in a well-regarded sequel, Morrison has starred in Crooked Earth, Tracker and Mahana, hosted a talk show and a variety show, and played Jango Fett in two Star Wars prequels.
Reporter, musician and most importantly music fan, Dylan Taite can be fairly claimed as the man who brought some of the most left field musical talent to prime-time TV. Some of his interviews are legendary — others, like his sit-down with reggae legend Bob Marley, historically important. All were done with an eye for invention, a sharp turn of phrase and a touch of eccentricity that made his reports a must-see for music fans.