Story: Māori and television – whakaata

Pukemanu, 1971

Pukemanu, the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation’s early local television drama series, was set in a North Island timber town. Its strongly bicultural focus was solidly based in a group of Māori and Pākehā actors, with major roles shared between them, storylines following issues relevant to a bicultural community, and a generous sprinkling of te reo Māori (the Māori language). In the excerpt shown here, a local company’s plan to blast a wāhi tapu (significant site) to clear a road is discussed in the local pub. The first person heard is Charlie Rata, played by Ernie Leonard. The episode (called ‘Charlie’s rock’) developed from conversations between Leonard and series writer Hamish Keith about the difficulties of reconciling Pākehā and Māori expectations and identities. In the mid-1980s the multi-talented Leonard, an actor, newsreader, entertainer, television presenter, director, producer and television executive, became the first head of TVNZ’s Maori Programmes Department.

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TVNZ Television New Zealand

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How to cite this page:

Tainui Stephens, 'Māori and television – whakaata - Early years: 1960s and 1970s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 30 November 2023)

Story by Tainui Stephens, published 22 Oct 2014