The Dead Lands: ‘He tīmatanga noa iho tēnei’ – Tainui Stephens

The Dead Lands
is the Maori action series that hopes to win over audiences
across the globe. The international series
will premiere tonight and we’re joined by lead actor
Te Kohe Tuhaka and veteran broadcaster
Tainui Stephens. Te Karere is honoured
to have you both here. Welcome to the Te Karere studio! Thank you! Te Kohe, tell us about your character? Are they a warrior, a bad guy or what? Well, let me put it like this. He is everything. He starts off as evil
but then he sees the light when he is with Mehe Te Wehiwehi. She helping him regain his mana
by following his instructions. But at the end of the day
he’s only the one who can regain his mana
through the course of the show. So, did you enjoy this production? It was a top-notch experience. Words escape me. It’s just that good? – Yes. I feel bad for our brother here. When we were doing our setup work
his beautiful face would get a somewhat ugly moko
put on it. But when he’d go back home with his moko he was wearing
all the time he gave his boy
a really good fright. I truly felt bad for him. Well, I’m glad someone
does feel sorry for him because when the movie
was being worked on and coming out the brothers and I
definitely didn’t feel bad for him because he was such a stunning man. We were all jealous of him. Tainui, what are your aspirations
for this production, especially as this is a production
that has such a heavy Maori element? Well, I’d just like to talk about
the movie for a moment. What I really liked about that movie was that Te Reo was front and centre
in that movie. What I really like about this series
is that this has a very wide appeal. Both here and overseas, its potential reach is massive. So you can see we’ve done well with following the path
that’s been forged by the likes of Annabelle Lee-Mather
and others. She, her crew, and the Tipene family have gotten themselves
on to Netflix. That is a huge gateway
to an international audience. We’re also aiming
to get a global audience as well. There’s no doubt
that the global audience is going to enjoy the programme. But as we know, our people can be quite the critics. What can you two share
that will interest our people? It’s entertaining. That’s what we focused on. It’s not a documentary. It’s also very different
to what the movie went for. So for local NZ audiences that want to see something
entertaining, it’s a thriller
but not one that’s gross and heavy, but one that is quite light. So that’s what is at the heart
of this – it’s entertaining. When it comes to the language
and tikanga, you get a whiff of it. We don’t really use either
to any meaningful depth, we’ll let real life deal with that. But there is a hint of them. What’s different
between the movie and the TV series? For me, what fans of the movie will notice is that the characters
in the movie were able to spend
a lot of time with their dialogue and their locations. With the programme, however,
it moves fast. You need to be quick
to pick up and follow the dialogue because the series’ plot
is constantly on the move, so are the characters, and there’s lots of action. So with that difference in mind, you can feel your heartbeat
really racing when you’re watching the show. And then you have the fights, far out, they are quality as! Who worked on the fight scenes? We had both Kani Colier
and Jamus Webster there to help with mau rakau, patu
and other traditional weaponry. We also had Glen Levy there
when it came to the camera work, so was Steve
and the rest of Action House. The fights are really intense
and there’s heaps. So tonight, Tainui, the programme
will be premiering for everyone to watch. No doubt you two have
already watched the show. Are you happy with
how the episodes have turned out? In my opinion, we’ve achieved our objective. It’s entertaining. It’s provided
training opportunities. Our junior staff have had
an opportunity to work on this from production
right through to scriptwriting. All of those things were able
to be done by our less experienced staff. It was thanks to what they did
that we were able to do this. This is only the beginning. It’s an advancement, and a big one at that. But it is just the beginning. What a great response. Great to hear that this production has been used to upskill
our young people so they can do this in this future. Thanks for coming. I’ll see you two again soon
at the launch event that’s happening onsite. I meant what I said earlier that you two are honouring
this programme by being here. We are so lucky to have you.

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