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New Season Of Pukana Starts Monday

Media RELEASE 26 February 2013

Children’s Favourite Pūkana: New Season Starts Monday, March 4 on Māori Television, Te Reo and FOUR

Award-winning children’s television show Pūkana 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.

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 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 Tāwera, Herea Te Hura Winitana and Krystal-Lee Brown, all fluent Te Reo Māori 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 Māori to write, present and produce television. The company has turned out many successful film and television industry personnel.

Although Pūkana’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. Pūkana has 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.

This year sees a change to three presenters and introduces the newest member of the team, Krystal-Lee Brown. Of Tainui, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Apakura and Ngāti Raukawa descent, 20-year-old Krystal-Lee is currently completing her BA degree in Māori Development at AUT University. Pūkana 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 Māori and is finding that her work on Pūkana is keeping her up to speed and refining her understanding of the language. She grew up in Pakuranga and Otahuhu, attended kōhanga reo then Te Kura Kaupapa Māori 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 Māpuna-Atahu is already a performer, on screen in an upcoming music clip for Pūkana.

Herea Te Hura Winitana (Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Tūhoe), aged 21, is going into his third season of Pūkana and looking forward to bringing more of the traditional Māori 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 Māori, the Māori 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 Kōrero national Māori speech competition in 2010, and was spotted by then-producer of Pūkana, Pānia Papa, who encouraged him to audition for the show. Working at Pūkana 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 Māori and English, since his education had mostly been in the oral tradition of his ancestors.

Tiare Tāwera (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Tūhoe) joined Pūkana in 2006, making this his eighth year with the show. He says his motivation is to make children smile and to promote Te Reo Māori 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 Māori o Piripono and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori 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 Ngā Manu Kōrero, Māori 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 Pūkana by then-producer Mātai Smith.

Pūkana won the award for Best Māori 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.

An episode from Pūkana 2012 season:
Pūkana facebook page:

L-R Pūkana presenters Herea Te Hura Winitana, Krystal-Lee Brown, Tiare Tāwera


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