Tara Ward delved into Māori TV’s impressive OnDemand catalogue and found some of the best TV taonga for your viewing pleasure.
From lifestyle shows to documentaries, from current affairs to reality TV, Māori TV has an abundance of quality telly that celebrates and acknowledges the people, places and cultures of Aotearoa. Te reo Māori is at the heart of Māori TV’s programming, and their OnDemand catalogue is filled with a huge variety of locally-made shows to appeal to both fluent speakers and those beginning their te reo journey. The shows are all free to watch, and better yet, many are available globally.
Wherever you are in the world, whatever you want to watch, here are ten of the best shows to watch on Māori TV.
This powerful new documentary series takes a behind-the-scenes look at the history of the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process through the eyes of those closest to it, such as Ngāi Tahu negotiator Sir Tipene O’Regan. It’s an absorbing, important piece of work filled with compelling storytelling, as The Negotiators lays out the struggles and obstacles iwi faced, and continue to face, in making the Crown honour the Treaty. A must-see for all New Zealanders.
Based on a comic strip by writer and musician Coco Solid (aka Jessica Hansell), animated series Aroha Bridge has gained a cult following since it began as a webseries in 2013. Aroha Bridge is a sharp, intelligent comedy that follows Kowhai and Monty Hook, two teenagers navigating ‘the complex and hilarious circumstances growing up in a bicultural and eclectic community’. It also features the voices of Madelaine Sami, Kura Forrester, Julian Dennison, Frankie Stevens, Rachel House and Oscar Kightley.
Directed by Katie Wolfe, this documentary shines a light on the political work of wāhine Māori during the women’s suffrage movement. He Māngai Wāhine speaks to descendants of wāhine toa like Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia and Niniwa-i-te-Rangi, as they share the stories of their tūpuna and discuss the influence they have in Aotearoa today.
“It’s a little bit shady, and a whole lot of hustle”. That’s the premise to Ahikāroa, Māori TV’s bilingual drama about the lives of three best mates in their 20s. It’s a smart, contemporary drama, with dialogue that shifts seamlessly between te reo Māori and English. Ahikāroa’s website also has a handy ‘Phrase of the Day’ section, where you can upsize your reo with phrases like ‘kāti te patu ngahau’ (stop killing my buzz) or ‘mea pai kia whiwhi raho koe’ (you need some dick in your life).
Do you want to live more sustainably or learn how to survive off the land? Pio Terei wants to do the same, and lifestyle series Off the Grid sees him on a mission around New Zealand to find out how. Pio meets Kiwis who manage to live independently, but still have all the creature comforts they need, and discovers why they do it.
One of New Zealand’s best comedies in recent years, this mockumentary series follows two city-slicker cousins Tama and Hori, who have six months to marry a Māori woman or miss out on a multi-million dollar share of the family farm. It’s a genuinely warm and funny show, and you’ll find yourself quickly becoming invested in the cousins’ crazy romantic hijinks. A gem from start to finish.
Hosted by former Gardener of the Year, Jade Tempara, He Kākano hopes to connect communities in Aotearoa through the power of organic gardening. This lifestyle series sees Jade visit the gardens of well known Kiwis, with the hope of inspiring viewers to weave ‘traditional growing methods with Māori ingenuity to produce fresh tasty dishes’.
This new animated series for tamariki drops on 20 September, and follows pūkōrero Maui as he shares stories based on taonga from the Te Papa collection. The show is 100% te reo Māori and aims to help kids learn about the importance of taonga while discovering their own history.
This is a reality show like no other as a bunch of fit and strong New Zealanders battle to become the ultimate Polynesian warrior. It’s a bit like The Bachelor, with contestants vying for the attentions of two comedians, Pani and Pani, and features a celebrity edition in season three.
Dame Anne Salmond presents this documentary series about significant taonga in New Zealand history, with each episode focusing on a different theme. Dame Anne meets with iwi and travels around the world to weave together the stories for each special object. It’s a fascinating journey, one that shows how New Zealand’s past, present and future are intrinsically linked.