Two Bay of Plenty cousins who believe they were destined to create together are paving the way for innovative new Māori productions.
They’ve produced The River, which is the first scripted Māori podcast using the latest 360 reality audio technology, allowing listeners to hear sound from all directions.
Funded by Te Māngai Pāho, the six-part series follows the disappearance of a young Māori woman and her three estranged cousins reuniting to solve the mystery of her disappearance.
Todd Karehana (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Tarāwhai, Ngāi Tamaoki, Ngāti Ruapani ki Waikaremoana), co-producer of The River says he and his cousin Piata Gardiner-Hoskins were inspired to create it by whānau.
“One of our aunties… had told us there are so many of you (Gardiner whānau) working in the film and TV industry but we haven’t worked together before… let’s honour her hopes for us and do something together.”
Sharing all types of Māori stories is something Karehana believes in deeply, and the idea of being ‘outsiders’ strongly features in the series.
“Our main whānau is in Tauranga Moana but we grew up in different parts of New Zealand. We would only come together with the Tauranga whānau in little brief stints and so we felt like outsiders sometimes within our own whanau, so that’s something we were exploring.”
Karehana believes more te reo Māori media can showcase the culture.
“This is our home, our stories are so unique, powerful and important showing all the different shades of what it is to be Māori.”
Gardiner-Hoskins (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāpuhi) describes the podcast as an eerie mystery podcast with a Māori twist.
“In the series, we follow Aria Hikirangi, a young career woman who must return to her rural hometown of Kingswood to help find her baby cousin.”
“Through a cast of unique characters, this series unpacks themes of Māori identity, hara, whakapapa and forgiveness.”
Gardiner-Hoskins says her deep connection with Karehana helped to bring ‘The River’ to life.
“Our relationship as cousins, family dynamics and being Māori in different parts of the Māori world.”
The podcast is available on Māori+ on demand, and Director of Content, Maramena Roderick believes it can pave the way for similar creations.
“The River was not just an opportunity to break new ground in the audio-drama territory, but a way for us to provide a platform to nurture the development of passionate and innovative rangatahi Māori in their creative endeavours.”
“This was another opportunity to grow te reo through emerging social media and mobile technologies.”
“We look forward to bringing more Māori content to our platforms, told authentically by Māori, that captivates and resonates with audiences.”