Award-winning series Aroha was born from a desire to tell contemporary love stories in te reo. The six subtitled stories by Māori writers explored love from many angles. Aroha involved established names (Temuera Morrison, Rena Owen, Paora Maxwell), and emerging talents (writer Briar Grace-Smith, actor/director Tearapa Kahi). Filming began in mid 2001; in 2002 three episodes played at the Auckland International Film Festival. Aroha was the brainchild of Karen Sidney, Joanna Paul, and the late Melissa Wikaire. The series was made in tribute to late filmmaker Cherie O'Shea.
This episode of the te reo Māori anthology series follows a scandalous relationship between Siva (Pua Magasiva), a 19-year-old Samoan man, and Haka (radio DJ Ngawai Greenwood) a 45-year-old Māori poet. Unable to contain their passion, the couple's public lovemaking hits the headlines. Siva's family take matters into their own hands. This episode marked the first on-screen starring role for Magasiva, who would make his name as nurse Vinnie Kruse in Shortland Street. Director Paora Maxwell later spent three years as Chief Executive at Māori Television.
Lovers move towards each other through space and time in this episode of te reo series Aroha. Tapu (Cliff Curtis) plays a doctor who is unnerved by the strange behaviour of elderly patient Kahu. Kahu's death affects his niece Irikura (Ngarimu Daniels) deeply, and at the tangi secrets are revealed. Tapu and Irikura are haunted by visions of a shared past; Kahu's ghost has plans for them. This episode played in black and white. Celebrated Māori actor and mentor Don Selwyn plays Kahu. Director Guy Moana created tā moko and carvings for classic 1994 film Once Were Warriors.
When traumatised soldier Matiu returns from service overseas, he struggles to reconnect with his wife and children. In this episode of te reo series Aroha, the marriage between Matiu (Te Kauri Wihongi) and Wai (Rena Owen) mirrors the Māori legend of Niwareka and Mataora, a union between spiritual and earthly worlds. Matiu decides to seek out his ghosts; he symbolises his reunion with his family through a facial tā moko performed by his father-in-law (Wi Kuki Kaa). Mataroa was written by Aroha co-creator Karen Sidney. It won an award at Canadian festival ImagineNATIVE.
Once Were Warriors star Temuera Morrison plays another bully in this episode of te reo series Aroha. Morrison is arrogant mechanic Steam, who verbally abuses an overweight young employee nicknamed Meat Pie (Vince Ata). Steam also has the hots for Meat Pie's mother (Mere Boynton) — his cousin. The story follows the obese young man as he's manipulated by his mum, mocked by his workmates, and pushed around by strangers. One day Meat Pie snaps. The cast also includes Pio Terei (as a woman!), Mika (as a mechanic) and Tame Iti. Puhi Rangiaho (Waka Huia) directs.
Te reo anthology series Aroha looks at love in all its different forms. This episode follows Tiare (Taungaroa Emile from Once Were Warriors), a shy young Rastafarian caught between several rocks and many hard places. He struggles to tell his sister’s friend Erena (Stacey Daniels Morrison) that he loves her, while grappling with whether to tell his ex Black Fern sister that her boyfriend — and father of her child — is cheating. Luckily, all his problems seem to have one solution…a good old game of rugby. The episode was directed by the late Melissa Wikaire, one of Aroha's creators.