When I was in primary school, I never knew I was Māori, or should I say I never understood what being Māori was. I always thought I was a little bit darker than a lot of the other kids, but that was ok. I was introduced to te reo Māori and kapa haka at primary school, and I felt like a gap was being filled. I carried on learning te reo Māori and doing kapa haka at college.

From a young age, I always thought I would be a teacher because I had some cool teachers, and I just thought I wanted to be like them when I grew up. Then in my senior years at Kapiti College, that changed as I found a love for Māori performing arts. Nearing my final year at college, I came across a one-year course in Film and Television at Whitireia Polytechnic in Porirua. What really caught my eye was that it incorporated Māori culture, and I thought if I didn’t like Film and Television, I could always go and do the Māori performing arts course. That one-year course set me on a path that changed my life, with a job offer in Auckland.

Editor Rāhera Herewini-Mulligan / Photo: @tuhoemaiden

At just 19 years old, I made the move to the big smoke, with no immediate family residing in Auckland. It was 1999, and my editing career had begun as an assistant editor on a new te reo Māori kids show known then as Tumeke. After one season, this was renamed Pūkana and is still in production today. I was fortunate to work with and learn from Francis Glenday, who taught me processes and structure, which I added to my editing foundations and still use and live by today. 

After just five months of being on the job, Francis fell ill, and I was asked if I would step up from assistant editor to editor. I must admit I was freaking out and had major doubts that I really wasn’t ready to step up. My director at the time, Hira Henderson, pulled me aside and said, “We will do this together,” and that gave me comfort that support would be there for me. So I asked myself, “Do you want to sink or swim?” and decided to swim.

That decision threw me into the longest week of my life as I worked as the show’s, now, only editor. But with the awesome support from my colleagues, I survived to tell the story and complete my first solo episode edit ever. And I was buggered! I continued work on the show into its 3rd series before moving on to TVNZ, where I would edit shows like Waka Huia, Marae, Mai Time, and Tagata Pasifika. This extended my editing knowledge base and introduced me to more Māori within the industry. After two years at TVNZ, I ventured out into the freelance world and haven’t looked back.

Sneak peeks into the Mokomoko Media editing suite, Rāhera’s editing team with her wife, Janice / Photos: @mokomokomedia

That’s my humble beginnings as an editor. Back then, I never realised I was part of a small group of Māori editors and an even smaller group that could kōrero Māori, which today I hope to help grow even more. I have worked with and alongside some of the best Māori in the Film and Television industry and am forever grateful for their teachings. One being we are a community that does this together.

‘Ehara taku toa i te toa takatini engari he toa takatini.’
My strength is not as an individual but as a collective.

About Rāhera Herewini-Mulligan

Rāhera is a field director and editor who is a fluent speaker of te reo Māori with 20+ years of experience in the television industry. As an editor, she has a wealth of experience across documentary, reality, children, and magazine-style genres from Police Ten 7 (TVNZ) to Moving Out with Kanoa (Three) and many shows for Māori Television. She is also passionate about Kapa haka and is an event/stage manager for Primary School, Secondary School (ASB Polyfest), and Senior Kapa Haka competitions across Tāmaki Makaurau.

How I Got Started in the Industry is a guest blog series from the Directors and Editors Guild of Aotearoa New Zealand (DEGANZ). Our members reflect on how they made their way into assistant editing, editing, and directing—with no two stories the same. They offer advice for those starting out. Get in touch with admin@deganz.co.nz if you’re a member and would like to share your story.

Last updated on 25 May 2023

Earlier this month, The New Zealand Film Commission released its May funding decisions. Congratulations to DEGANZ members Gwen Isaac and Katherine McRae, whose projects were two of the three applications successful in receiving the Feature Film Finishing Grant.

Ms. Information, a documentary feature directed by Gwen, focuses on polarising microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles. The pink-haired scientist stepped into the media spotlight during the coronavirus outbreak in New Zealand, resulting in the public’s mixed responses. For production, the crew followed Siouxsie for the two consecutive years of her public service. It reveals what women in power are forced to deal with and challenges the viewer’s perception of misinformation. As the film’s logline says, “Being a woman, expert, and leader can be a dangerous formula in dangerous times.” 

Katherine’s Pacific Mother explores what choices women have when giving birth. The documentary follows the free-driver Sachiko Fukumoto as she navigates the impersonal default systems of maternity. In her search for alternatives, she reconnects with mothers across the Pacific to reclaim traditional birthing knowledge. It will screen at this year’s DocEdge festival in Auckland on 3 June and in Wellington on 8 June.

Last updated on 25 May 2023

DEGANZ member Annie Goldson has been chosen as this year’s Doc Edge ‘Superhero’. The ‘Documentary Superhero’ is a yearly title honouring those who contributed significantly to the industry. 

Festival director Alex Lee comments that the ‘superhero’ inspires others in the industry and works hard to achieve excellence. He adds, “Annie’s work is exemplary in its authenticity and humanity and shows New Zealand filmmakers the way to tell and the importance of universal storytelling. They are called not by the fame or the fortune but rather are driven by the necessity to bring these stories to the world.”

Annie directed over 12 films and is best known for Punitive Damage, Georgie Girl, Brother Number One, Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web, and A Mild Touch of Cancer. Her latest film Red Mole: A Romance is in post-production. 

In her interview with the University of Auckland, Annie discussed how honoured she feels and what to look out for in the festival. When asked about her film recommendations from this year’s programme, she mentioned her teaching career at the University. She says the festival is so broad and rich that some would be perfect for teaching in her courses.

She made her selection of both national and international films:

Congratulations, Annie!

Last updated on 25 May 2023

The International Federation of Film Producers Association (FIAPF) and Women in Animation (WIA) have selected DEGANZ member, Hweiling Ow (2021 Incubator), to participate in the second edition of the Stories x Women program for her new animated project, The Golden Pig.

The program works to increase diversity within animation globally, providing support and international opportunities for women animators from emerging film and animation communities from Africa, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific. FIAPF and WIA are particularly interested in uplifting creatives who want to tell authentic and unique stories.

Sponsored by the Walt Disney Company with additional support from Sony Pictures Entertainment, participants will receive mentorship and one-on-one coaching sessions from internationally acclaimed animation experts. The course will prepare the delegates to pitch their project at the Annecy International Animation Festival and Market (MIFA) later this year.

This selection follows the release of Hweiling’s 3D animated short, Cheng Beng, earlier this year. The short was made as part of the Unreal Engine Short Film Challenge in 2022.

Congratulations to Hweiling on the exciting opportunity!

Last updated on 24 May 2023

Congratulations to DEGANZ Board member, Celia Jaspers, for her new fantastical adventure short selected to screen at the Dances With Films festival in Los Angeles! Directed, written, and produced by Celia, The Polycees was chosen as one of the 250 finalists. 

The family-friendly short takes you on a wild ride through parliament, unearthing a secret government below Aotearoa’s iconic Beehive. It’s up to Lee, the prime minister’s daughter, and Spoo, a cheeky puppet creature, to keep the secret of the bustling network of The Polycees under wraps. Full of puppet mischief, sudden villain plot twists, and gentle satire, there is something for the whole family.

Image Credits: IMDb

As part of the Dances With Films festival, The Polycees will screen at the TCL Chinese Theatres in June this year. The festival highlights independent filmmakers and screens a wide range of feature films, documentaries, shorts, and animations. It is exciting to see a Kiwi children’s film included in the mix!

Don’t keep it a secret, and support The Polycees.

Last updated on 24 May 2023