Māori Television hit the airwaves on 28 March 2004. This collection demonstrates how the network has staked its place as Aotearoa's indigenous broadcaster. The kete is overflowing with tasty morsels — from comedy, waiata, hunting and language learning, to award-winning coverage of Anzac Day. Māori Television HOD of Content Development Nevak Rogers backgrounds some MTS highlights here, while Tainui Stephens unravels the history of Māori on television here: choose from te reo and English versions of each backgrounder.
Tangata Whenua was a groundbreaking six-part documentary series that screened (remarkably in primetime) in 1974. Each episode chronicled a different iwi and included interviews by historian Michael King with kaumātua. These remain a priceless historical record. The Feltex Award-winning script was by King and director Barry Barclay. The NZBC said the series had "possibly done more towards helping the European understand the Māori people, their traditions and way of life, than anything else previously shown on television". Paul Diamond writes about Tangata Whenua here.
This documentary reviews that 1983 Royal Tour downunder by Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The tour was notable for the presence of royal baby William; images of the son and heir playing with a Buzzy Bee on the lawn of Government House in Auckland were published around the world. The royals also visit the ballet, banquet, waka, hongi, plant kauri, and see Red Checkers and firemen’s displays. Prince Charles’s duties include announcing an extra holiday for school kids and he meets younger bro Edward on his gap year (tutoring at Wanganui Collegiate).
The Camera on the Shore is a feature-length portrait of a man who argued eloquently for the rights of indigenous people to control the camera. Based on extensive interviews with Barry Barclay and those who knew him — and footage from his work — it traces the path of one of the first people to bring a Māori perspective to the screen. The documentary ranges from Barclay's early years in a monastery to speeches at his tangi, touching en route on landmark TV series Tangata Whenua, battling corporations on doco The Neglected Miracle, and behind the scenes conflict on Te Rua.
This docudrama follows an imaginary news reporter who travels back in time to cover the days leading up to the Treaty of Waitangi’s signing on 6 February 1840. Dropping the usual solemnity surrounding Aotearoa’s founding document, it uses humour and asides to camera to evoke the chaos and motives behind the treaty. Written by Gavin Strawhan, with input from novelist Witi Ihimaera, What Really Happened screened on TVNZ for Waitangi Day 2011. Its nominations at the Aotearoa TV Awards included Best Drama, director (Peter Burger) and actor Jarod Rawiri (who played Hōne Heke).
‘Cold’ was another number one hit for dance act Deep Obsession. The video (one of two made for this track) arguably takes the title a trifle too little literally: extended studio close-ups of coldly-lit vocalists Zara Clark and Vanessa Kelly in blue eye makeup are contrasted with glimpses of the band performing live. Third member (and later director) Christopher Banks can be seen sporadically. The second of three consecutive chart-toppers for the band, ‘Cold’ saw Banks and Clark nominated for best songwriting at the 2000 NZ Music Awards.
Ralph Hotere (Te Aupōuri) is regarded as one of New Zealand's greatest artists. This documentary by Merata Mita provides a perspective on his world, largely by way of framing his extensive body of work. Hotere remains famously tight-lipped throughout, but there are interviews with artists, friends and commentators, alongside scenes of Hotere working and of his contemporary home context. Mita's impressionistic film is set to a Hirini Melbourne-directed score of jazz, māori and pop songs, and poetry reading by Hotere's first wife Cilla McQueen.
If a single word could sum up the free-wheeling flavour of alternative music and comedy in Aotearoa during the 1970s, that word would surely be ... Blerta. The 'Bruno Lawrence Electric Revelation and Travelling Apparition' included foundation members of the NZ screen industry (Lawrence, Geoff Murphy, Alun Bollinger) plus other merry pranksters. Drawing on the Blerta TV series and beyond, Blerta Revisited (aka Blerta - The Return Trip) is an anarchic collection of comedy skits, musical interludes and films culled from the Blerta archives. Costa Botes writes about Blerta here.
This episode of the kids' TV institution celebrates te reo — one of Aotearoa's three official languages — for Māori Language Week. The July 2011 show opens at its Christchurch studio with a haka from Spreydon's kura kaupapa; from there the kōrero — and gunge — flows freely. Bursting with edifying energy it includes the show's trademark games, and The Wobblies, LOL and Family Health Diarrhoea. Australian Idol Stan Walker is the star guest and sings 'Loud' with Camilla the chimp, and NowTube visits an 80s What Now? (Steve Parr, Frank Flash et al). Tu meke tamariki!
This documentary looks at the life and work of acclaimed author Patricia Grace. Filmed at home, on marae and in classrooms, Grace discusses her writing process, her Hongoeka Bay upbringing, her children’s books, criticism of her work, and her Māori identity and belonging to the land (a theme of her then-recently successful novel Potiki). In particular she affirms the importance of writing from experience. The film features interviews with publishers and friends, and excerpts from Grace's stories are read and dramatised, including At the River, The Hills and Mutuwhenua.