Six Māori Battalion soldiers camped in Italian ruins wait for night to fall. In the silence, the bros-in-arms distract themselves with jokes. A tohu (sign) brings them back to reality, and they gather to say a karakia before returning to the fray. Director Taika Waititi describes the soldiers as young men with "a special bond, strengthened by their character, their culture and each other." Shot in the rubble of the old Wellington Hospital, Tama Tū won international acclaim. Invited to over 40 international festivals, its many awards included honourable mentions at Sundance and Berlin.
Taika Waititi [Te-Whānau-a-Apanui] acted in movies Scarfies and Snakeskin, TV show The Strip (sometimes under the credit Taika Cohen), and appeared on stage as a stand-up comedian. Turning his creative energies towards directing, he made Oscar-nominated short Two Cars, One Night, and Tama Tū, based on the experiences of The Māori Battalion in WWII. He has gone on to great success directing (and sometimes appearing in) feature films.
Peter Meteherangi Tikao Burger (Ngāi Tahu, Rangitane) can thank a childhood lisp for his busy career as a screen director today. Having been sent to speech lessons, he found himself in the wrong class, and discovered the joys of performance in a drama class at a young and impressionable age. Since then, Burger has directed numerous film and television productions, including Until Proven Innocent, which won five Qantas awards in 2009, The Tattooist, Fish Skin Suit, short film Turangawaewae, staring the late Wi Kuki Kaa, as well as the TV series Outrageous Fortune, Go Girls and The Cult.
This final episode from series two of the arts series is presented by Taika Cohen (aka Taika Waititi) and his alter ego, silly German Gunter Schliemann. Taika makes short film Tama Tū, performs as vampire Diego (later reborn in What We Do in the Shadows) and performs Taika’s Incredible Show at Bats Theatre. Included are scenes from his early, little-seen short film John & Pogo. Also featured are artist Siren Maclaine (aka Siren Deluxe) and her feminist erotica; Caroline Robinson’s large-scale Auckland motorway sculptures; and comics artist Colin Wilson (Judge Dredd, Blueberry).
A taonga in Māori culture is a treasured thing, whether tangible (eg a letter, photo, or heirloom) or intangible (eg a family story). Māori Television series Taonga wove documentary techniques with re-enactments, to tell stories of taonga. This full-length episode sees the arrival of a dramatic telegram for a woman (Miriama McDowell from Hope and Wire) whose husband (Tama Tū's Taungaroa Emile) is off fighting during World War ll. Michael Bennett was nominated for a Qantas Award for Best Non-Drama Direction for the episode.
Tammy Davis (Ngāti Rangi, Atihaunui a Paparangi) grew up in Raetihi, and studied acting at Northland Polytechnic before landing his first major role (alongside fellow graduate Clint Eruera) as Mookie in the feature film What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? Following supporting roles in Whale Rider, and TV dramas Jacksons Wharf, The Market and Mataku, Davis starred in macabre feature Black Sheep, and Taika Waititi short film Tama Tū, before securing the role of Munter in long-running TV series Outrageous Fortune. Davis won Best Performance by a Supporting Actor at the 2008 Qantas Film and Television Awards for his role as Munter.
Ainsley Gardiner (Te-Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Awa) fell in love with the magic of the big screen while growing up in Whakatane, where you could find her most Fridays at the local cinema catching the latest release. Her first formal foray into film and television came in 1995 when she joined producer Larry Parr at Kahukura Productions, eventually producing low budget feature Kombi Nation (2003) and co-producing the 26-part comedy/drama TV series Love Bites (2002). Following the demise of Kahukura, Gardiner teamed up with Taika Waititi to work on Oscar-nominated short film Two Cars, One Night. Soon after that she established Whenua Films with actor/producer Cliff Curtis. Together the trio struck creative gold with World War II short Tama Tū, Waititi's debut feature Eagle vs Shark and box office hit Boy.
Taika (Boy) Waititi's first feature is an offbeat comedy about two lonely misfits and their attempts to find love. Lily (Loren Taylor) is a shy fast-food cashier with a crush on clueless gaming geek Jarrod (Conchord Jemaine Clement). When Lily crashes Jarrod's fancy dress party wearing a shark costume and impresses the self-styled ‘Eagle Lord' with her gaming prowess — excerpted here — she gets her man. But their budding romance is sorely tested by Jarrod's obsession with a childhood nemesis. Empire called the film, "a comic delight destined for cult adoration."
James Tito, Maaka Pohatu, Matariki Whatarau and Francis Kora make up the Modern Māori Quartet.
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.