Editor Rāhera Herewini-Mulligan: How I Got Started in the Industry

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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