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Poniponi: Yes! Horses Speaking Te Reo – On Māori+

The latest scripted children’s drama series fully in te reo goes where no-one has gone before. There have been talking horses on our screens before, but to our knowledge this is the first time they have spoken in fluent te reo.

PONIPONI premieres Friday 3 December on MĀORI+

Produced by Nicole Hoey of Cinco Cine Film Productions Ltd and funded by Te Māngai Pāho, PONIPONI is a 10 episode short form, live action series written by Stacy Gregg, author of many children’s books, including the hugely successful Pony Club Secrets series.

Screen and stage legend, Te Atamira Ward-Lealand, plays ‘Nan’ in the series, as well as sharing directorial duties with award winning director, Puti Simich-Pene.

PONIPONI tracks the adventures of ‘Māia’ who, on her 10th birthday receives the most extraordinary gift - the power to talk to kararehe (animals).

She is joined by her cousin ‘Wairua’, and a cheeky little mini pony named ‘Puti’.

Māia must prove herself worthy of a taonga gifted to her by her nan, and which has been handed down through the generations by her tūpuna. She earns a feather for her korowai (feather cloak) by showing herself worthy of her newfound abilities.

Māia can also draw on the guidance of ‘Matua Romeo’, her kaumātua (and who also happens to be a talking horse).

And, she also receives assistance from a magical, and very forthright, television set (voiced by Turia Schmidt-Peke of Ahikāroa fame), who delivers messages along the way, ‘Straight From The Horse's Mouth’ so to speak.

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Watch Māia fulfil her destiny - with a little help from her kararehe friends in this fun and imaginative ten part series. He PONIPONI tēnei! (This is PONIPONI!)


EPISODE 1: On her tenth birthday Māia gets a big surprise when she discovers she can talk to horses. Life quickly gets complicated when Wairua, her cousin from the city, arrives on the farm, and they discover a pony named Puti has run away from Bad Man.

EPISODE 2: Māia and Wairua hide Puti in the newly built Te Whare Hei, and learn more about the mysterious korowai her Nan has passed on to Maia for her birthday.

EPISODE 3: It’s a sad day when one of the farm’s horses has to leave, balanced by Puti’s amazing discovery in Te Whare Hei.

EPISODE 4: When Māia complains to Wairua that her special gift is driving her crazy, Puti misinterprets her words and runs away. But wise words from Matua Romeo calms the situation.

EPISODE 5: Puti decides to become a show pony, and Māia earns another feather to add to her taonga.

EPISODE 6: Māia and Wairua have a sleepover in Te Whare Hai. But while Straight From the Horse’s Mouth entertains them with the story of Hineahuone, Puti has a big problem.

EPISODE 7: After Māia and Wairua fail to teach Puti how to show jump, Puti turns the tables and has them jumping out of their skins.

EPISODE 8: Bad Man arrives to take away Puti, and Māia and Wairua do their best to hide her – but they have to tell Nan the truth.

EPISODE 9: In her mind Māia hears Puti calling to be saved, so she and Wairua plan a daring rescue.

EPISODE 10: Māia, Wairua and Puti review their adventures together, and what they have learned as their friendship developed.



Nicole is a veteran content creator and leader in the screen industry. She has produced over a thousand hours in nearly every genre for nearly every platform in the past 25 years. She has trained Māori key creatives across multiple disciplines and continues to innovate areas of the sector whilst supporting emerging talent.

WRITER Stacy Gregg

Internationally popular children's author, Stacy Gregg, has had 36 books published. Her Pony Club Secrets series (totalling 13 books) has sold over 1.5 million copies globally.

DIRECTOR Te Atamira Ward-Lealand

Te Atamira has worked extensively in theatre, film and television for over 40 years. Jennifer has been a keen student and champion of te reo Māori and in 2017 was gifted the name Te Atamira (The Stage) by Sir Tīmoti Kāretu and the late Professor Te Wharehuia Milroy.

DIRECTOR Puti Simich-Pene

Puti has worked in film and television for over 15 years. She was recognised as part of the Te Aupounamu Māori Screen Excellence Awards for her contributions to the industry by the NZ Film Commission in 2021.

© Scoop Media

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