Maori Television, Auckland, 5 March 2015: Award-winning children’s television show Pūkana begins its 16th year with three new presenters and a new plan to reach a broader audience.
Pūkana is a dynamic, colourful, hip and funny mix of up-to-the-minute music, cheeky send-ups, challenges, giveaways, and Te Reo Māori practice. There are parodies of popular songs, TV commercials and personalities, lots of music and youth news, all presented in a visually energetic style with lots of camera movement, graphics and animation.
Pūkana screens on Māori Television on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 5.00pm and on the Te Reo channel at 5pm on the same days from March 9. It then plays the same weekend (starting March 14) on FOUR on Saturdays and Sundays at 3.30pm, with English subtitles.
The first episode of Pūkana for 2015 will see Pūkana presenters Tiare Tawera and Pikiteora Mura-Hita searching for the three new hosts following the departure of Herea Winitana at the end of 2014. And Tiare is hanging his presenter shoes up after 10 years, to step into the role of director.
This year Pūkana introduces three new presenters to appear alongside Pikiteora Mura-Hita. They are: Georgia Ihimaera, Nathaniel Howe and Raniera Blake.
Georgia Ihimaera (Ngapuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngāi Tahu) loves children and hopes to gain skills in presenting and enhancing her reo. She says, “I love kids, I love entertaining and having fun”.
Nathaniel Howe (Ngāti Wai, Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngai Tahu, Ngāti Porou) grew up watching Pūkana, “Like many other Māori children I saw the presenters as great role models both as entertainers and as advocates for Te Reo Māori”.
Raniera Blake (Ngāi Tuhoe, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Arawa) has wanted to be a Pūkanapresenter since he was young and his passion is to promote the Māori language.
Pikiteora Mura-Hita continues on Pūkana for her second year. Her charismatic nature, warped sense of humour and beautiful singing voice dazzled audiences when she won Maori Television’s hit live karaoke show ‘Homai te Pakipaki’ back in 2009.
This year Pūkana has the freedom to weave in a small amount of English naturally and subtly into theMonday programme. The producers hope this will appeal to a broader audience who aren’t fluent in Te Reo.
“With the introduction of te reo Pākeha into the show, it will allow us to grow our audience base and hopefully excite enough of our non-fluent audience into taking the next step into learning Te Reo. Whilst we have the sub-titled episodes on air on TV Four – which helps our non-fluent audience – the inclusion of actually speaking English is an exciting prospect!” says Co-Producer Alecia Haua.
Although Pūkana’s primary audience is aged 8-12, that range is expanding as its original fans grow up – there is a trend for those aged 12-25 to stay with the show they discovered as youngsters. Pūkanahas discovered over the years that its audience knows no age limits, as it is loved by Māori language speakers (and learners) of all ages. And the re-screening on FOUR with subtitles caters for those who do not speak the language.
The kaupapa of Nicole Hoey’s company Cinco Cine of finding and fostering young talent to create careers in the television industry continues with the promotion of former presenter Mārama Gardiner to the position of co-producer alongside Alecia Haua.
Other Pūkana “graduates” over the years include Quinton Hita, producer of feature film Mt Zionwhose Kura Productions specialises in making Te Reo TV programmes; former Maori Television programme commissioner and current producer of Poi E: The Story Behind Our Song Reikura Kahi; Pirihira Hollings, producer of Te Reo channel’s “Mataora”; Te Hāmua Nikora, former host of “Homai Te Pakipaki” and Mana Party candidate in the Ikaroa Rawhiti by-election; Tumamao Harawira, Radio Wātea announcer and Te Karere sports analyst; budding solo artist Te Ahorangi Winitana released a single with Young Sid called “Pounamu”; and Taupunakohe Tocker and Chey Milne became presenters on TV2’s IAMTV.
Pūkana is produced by Cinco Cine Film Productions for Maori Television and FOUR with funding from Te Māngai Paho and NZ on Air (for subtitles).
Other Cinco Cine productions are: Kārero Mai, Whānau, Manutioriori, Ihumanea, Brown Brothers, Spongebob Squarepants (reversioning for Nickelodeon channel) and the TV One telefeature Kawa, originally titled Nights in the Gardens of Spain, based on the Witi Ihimaera novel and co-produced with Conbrio Productions.
Last year Cinco Cine also spearheaded a project during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori which saw superstar Stan Walker join forces with Ria Hall, Troy Kingi and Maisey Rika to release ‘Aotearoa’ which made it to number 2 in the RIANZ music charts and number 1 on iTunes.
Pūkana won the Qantas Awards Best Children’s Programme (2003) and the TV Guide New Zealand Television Awards (1999) as well as best Māori Language Programme at the 2005 Air NZ Screen Awards. Mātai Smith won the best male Māori language presenter award at the 2005, 2006 and 2007 Māori Media Awards.
The Qantas judges described Pūkana as conveying “a constant and real sense of enthusiasm, energy and excitement about te reo Māori. Stylish presentation, graphics and production. Terrific viewing”.