In this 2010 Tagata Pasifika story, reporter Adrian Stevanon follows efforts by a group of Pacific Island mariners to preserve the traditions and skills of the great Polynesian voyagers — as an armada of canoes from the Cook Islands, Tahiti, Fiji and Aotearoa takes to the seas of Te Moananui a Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean). Stevanon has zero sailing hours when he joins the Pan-Pacific crew of Hine Moana in the Cook Islands, en route to Samoa. Unsure “if this city boy can handle the high seas”, he takes time to find his sea legs, but eventually gets on the foi (tiller) and into ‘vaka mode’.
Director Anna Marbrook came to the screen from an extensive theatre background (she co-founded Auckland company Theatre at Large). More than 150 episodes directing on Shortland Street laid the groundwork for a run of factual work, focused on Pacific themes: including food series Real Pasifik, award-winning waka documentary Te Mana o te Moana – The Pacific Voyagers, and reality series Waka Warriors.
Natural history and adventure cameraman Mike Single has worked everywhere from Death Valley to Antarctica, and filmed everything from BASE jumping to the birthplace of kung fu. A long association with company NHNZ has scored him a swag of awards, including an International Emmy for his Antarctic film The Crystal Ocean. Single's work has screened on Discovery Channel and National Geographic.
Rangi Rangitukunoa has a background in performing, kapa haka and theatre — he has shared stages with Te Waka Huia, Mika, and Moana and the Tribe. His screen credits include acting roles (indie comedy Crackheads) and presenting Māori Television motoring show Meke My Waka. Behind the scenes work as a cameraman led to a run of directing gigs on Māori TV programmes, from preschool to talk shows, to setting the tone for The Stage - Haka Fusion, as director of the first episode. In 2016 he created and directed Māori warrior series Kairākau, which dramatises legendary stories and skills from the past.
Toby Mills began as an actor (eg. short films Mananui and The Find). After managing theatre company Te Rakau Hua o te Wa o Tapu, he took up directing, and in 2000 was awarded for series Nga Morehu, which profiled Māori elders. Mills works often with his partner Moana Maniapoto; together they have won awards for docos on Syd Jackson and carver Pakaariki Harrison. Mills also helmed te reo short Te Po Uriuri.
Moana Maniapoto (MNZM) is a musician acclaimed for fusing traditional Māori and modern sounds (Moana and the Moahunters, Moana and the Tribe). With partner Toby Mills she has made award-winning films exploring Te Ao Māori, from cultural IP to activist Syd Jackson. Maniapoto has also appeared onscreen as a political commentator, fronted 90s kids show Yahoo, and played Doctor Aniwa Ryan on Shortland Street.