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New season of Pukana starts Monday

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
New season of Pukana starts Monday

Award-winning children’s television show Pukana starts its 15th season next week, its longevity a sign of ongoing relevance in presenting television to children in an exciting, entertaining manner, while at the same time being educational.

Pukana is a dynamic, colourful, hip and funny mix of up-to-the-minute music, cheeky send-ups, challenges, giveaways, and Te Reo Maori 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.

Pukana screens on Maori Television on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 4.30pm and on the Te Reo channel at 5pm on the same days from March 4. It then plays the following weekend (starting March 9) on FOUR on Saturdays and Sundays at 3.30pm, with English subtitles.

Presenters Tiare Tawera, Herea Te Hura Winitana and Krystal-Lee Brown, all fluent Te Reo Maori speakers and talented singers, actors and reporters are deeply involved in creating the shows - brainstorming, researching and writing. Production company Cinco Cine, based in Auckland and owned by producer Nicole Hoey, has an enduring policy of training young Maori to write, present and produce television. The company has turned out many successful film and television industry personnel.

Although Pukana’s primary audience is aged 8-14, 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. Pukana has discovered over the years that its audience knows no age limits, as it is loved by Maori language speakers (and learners) of all ages. And the re-screening on FOUR with subtitles caters for those who do not speak the language.

This year sees a change to three presenters and introduces the newest member of the team, Krystal-Lee Brown. Of Tainui, Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Apakura and Ngati Raukawa descent, 20-year-old Krystal-Lee is currently completing her BA degree in Maori Development at AUT University. Pukana is her first full-time job and her work on the show makes up her placement for her final paper, Media Studies.

She is passionate about speaking Te Reo Maori and is finding that her work on Pukana is keeping her up to speed and refining her understanding of the language. She grew up in Pakuranga and Otahuhu, attended kohanga reo then Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Piripono in Otara, followed by Western Springs College. Active in kapa haka from an early age, she was in the Piripono team which won PolyFest, and Western Springs team when it won a year later. She also participated in Super 12 Kapa Haka and the main reason behind her move to Western Springs College was her interest in the drama and dance on offer there. Her 2-year-old son, Te Mapuna-Atahu is already a performer, on screen in an upcoming music clip for Pukana.

Herea Te Hura Winitana (Ngati Tuwharetoa, Tuhoe), aged 21, is going into his third season of Pukana and looking forward to bringing more of the traditional Maori culture he learned as a child to the show. He also feels that he can be a stepping-stone into the mainstream for children brought up like he was. Herea’s father established a school, Te Ahorangi, for passing on his traditional knowledge of Te Ao Maori, the Maori world, to his whānau. Herea spent his entire school life there, apart from about two years at a mainstream school in Turangi before deciding to return to his father’s school.

He won the Manu Korero national Maori speech competition in 2010, and was spotted by then-producer of Pukana, Pania Papa, who encouraged him to audition for the show. Working at Pukana has been a major learning curve for Herea, as when he started he had never used a computer and needed to work hard to improve his ability to communicate in writing, in both Maori and English, since his education had mostly been in the oral tradition of his ancestors.

Tiare Tawera (Te Whanau-a-Apanui, Ngati Porou, Tuhoe) joined Pukana in 2006, making this his eighth year with the show. He says his motivation is to make children smile and to promote Te Reo Maori in an exciting and fun way. He writes the scripts for the drama and humour segments as well as song parodies and for the past four years has been directing a segment. He has a passion for TV and wants to direct more.

Tiare grew up in Whakatane, attended kohanga reo there and Te Wharekura o Ruatoki, then, when his family moved to Auckland he went to Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Piripono and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Mangere, followed by Papatoetoe Intermediate and then Hato Petera College in Northcote.

At Hato Petera he was Head Boy and Dux, and as well as representing the school in many sports, he participated in Nga Manu Korero, Maori Speech competition, where he won Auckland and was runner-up nationally. Through that, he was offered work voicing animated TV shows in Te Reo at Kiwa Media’s re-versioning unit. After that he was talent-scouted for Pukana by then-producer Matai Smith.

Pukana won the award for Best Maori Language Programme at the NZ Screen Awards in 2005, the Qantas Media Award in 2003 and the TV Guide New Zealand Television Awards best children’s programme award in 1999.

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