Tamatoa the Brave Warrior - The Taniwha

Television, 1998 (Full Length Episode)

In this episode, the pint-sized Tamatoa sets off to rescue his talkative friend Moko the tuatara (Jason Hoyte), after Moko goes on an accidental kite journey and ends up in a swamp that is home to a brightly-coloured taniwha. Tamatoa has been warned that if he meets the taniwha, having a gift ready might help things along. The swamp is a place of many surprises: some of them with teeth, some with smiles. The light-hearted, colourfully-animated show was created by Kiwi company Flux Animation Studios.

Fish Skin Suit

Television, 2000 (Full Length)

While playing at the beach with their grandmother, two children witness an Elvis impersonator walk out of the sea. They believe he's the "fishman" lover of a female taniwha, Hine Tai. Magic realist mayhem — and tragedy — ensues as the stranger stirs up the life of their whanau in the quiet fishing village. The fable, written by Briar Grace-Smith and directed by Peter Burger, received six nominations at 2002 NZ TV Awards, winning Best Drama, and Camera. It screened on TV3 and features the Bic Runga song 'All Fall Down'.

Tale of the Fish

Television, 1999 (Full Length)

Haunui Royal directs this 1999 documentary on the people who live in the Far North, and their guardianship (kaitiakitanga) connection with the land and sea. Royal looks at how this traditional ownership is under pressure: from urban sprawl, pollution, and changing land use. Kaitiaki include farmer Laly Haddon, fisherman Rick, paralegal Ani Taniwha (whose work with ōi (shearwater) helped deepen her connection to the land); Ngāti Kuri members looking after Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga), and a group of rangatahi from Auckland.

Nia's Extra Ordinary Life - 01, Stones (First Episode)

Web, 2014 (Full Length Episode)

New Zealand's first web series for children follows the adventures of a 10 year-old girl for whom the ordinary becomes extraordinary. Nia (Shania Gilmour) lives in the Northland seaside town of Tinopai; in this first episode she introduces herself, her friend Hazel, and her highly active imagination, which is soon teaching a bully a lesson  thanks to help from a boxing glove, and her pet taniwha George. From the folks behind Auckland Daze (Kiel McNaughton and Kerry Warkia), Nia's Extra Ordinary Life also screened on Māori Television.

E Tipu E Rea - Te Moemoea (The Dream)

Television, 1989 (Full Length)

The night before his granddaughter's birthday, a man who likes having a flutter on the horses (Utu star Anzac Wallace) has a "dream". But which horse is he meant to bet on this time? Raniera gets help from his wife (Erihapeti Ngata) and the local community, to understand what the dream might mean. This edition of the pioneering Māori drama series marked Rawiri Paratene's debut as director. Patricia Grace based the screenplay on her story 'The Dream'; Temuera Morrison has a small role. Viewers can choose whether to watch the episode in Te Reo or in English. 

Series

Tamatoa the Brave Warrior

Television, 1998–2001

This family-friendly series from company Flux Animation follows the adventures of Tamatoa, a young Māori boy and his friends Moana, Manu (the moa), Moko (the tuatara) and Kereru (the kereru). Making clear director Brent Chambers’ lifelong love of American animation, the ten-minute episodes feature visual gags aplenty, most of them sold with a Kiwi twist. Set in pre-European times, the series features the voice talents of comedian Cal Wilson, Jason Hoyte (Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby) and Stephanie Tauevihi (Shortland Street).

E Tipu E Rea - Eel

Television, 1989 (Full Length)

A teenage boy (Lance Wharewaka) should be at school, but instead learns about the bush and the old days from his ailing grand uncle (Bill Tawhai). The friendship prepares the boy with the necessary skills for life. Written by poet Hone Tuwhare, Eel marked the drama directing debut of TV3 newsreader and Wild South presenter Joanna Paul."He [Bill] brought a mana with him and has such irreplaceable Māori knowledge," said Paul, who remembered him discussing "how he used bobs to catch eels. He remembers using flax — you can't buy knowledge like that."

Opo

Television, 1991 (Full Length)

This dramatised documentary looks back to 1955, when a female bottlenose dolphin began appearing regularly in Hokianga Harbour, close to the town of Opononi. Opo became a national celebrity, but died in controversial circumstances on 9 March 1956, the suspected victim of bombing by local fisherman. Directed by Steve La Hood (Numero Bruno, Swimming Lessons), the film recreates events of the summer and explores the belief of local Māori that Opo was a messenger sent by Kupe to unite the people. It includes interviews and extensive archival footage of Opo.

The Legend of the Whanganui River

Short Film, 1952 (Full Length)

This documentary film tells the story of the Whanganui River. It recounts a Māori myth believing the river is the path carved by a god (Pukeonaki aka Mt Taranaki) in its journey from the volcanic plateau to the west coast. There is beautifully shot footage of Māori paddling a waka under tui-laden matai, and tourists cruising on steamers. In 1950 the NFU had become part of the Department of Tourism and Publicity (after accusations of political bias); and this film reflects the change, with a triumphant narrative of progress underpinning an often-bloody river history.

Hot Earth

Short Film, 1955 (Full Length)

This 1955 film looks at the “savage” geology of the North Island volcanic region, and its human settlement. Te Arawa myth introduces the steaming valleys of volcano and quake god Rūaumoko. The film then surveys geothermal activity and its exploitation by Māori and Pākehā, from cooking to heating hospital radiators. It ends with a dramatic geyser display in front of tourists. Guide Rangi cameos. It screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival, and was John Feeney’s last National Film Unit gig before directing Oscar-nominated films for the National Film Board of Canada.