Tainui Stephens

Producer, director, executive producer, presenter

Tainui Stephens


Tainui Stephens (Te Rarawa) is an independent film and television producer, director, executive producer, writer, and presenter. He lives in Ōtaki Beach, in Raukawa territory, Aotearoa New Zealand.

For nearly four decades Tainui has created screen stories helping to define the Māori television and film voices that speak to the marae, the home, and the world. Tainui is committed to the stance of the Māori storyteller in all modern media and remains attracted to compelling stories that critique and celebrate the human condition.

In 1984, after four years working for the Race Relations Office, Tainui commenced a broadcasting career with Television New Zealand’s first weekly Māori programme Koha. In subsequent years as he developed his creative interests and managerial abilities, he made hundreds of hours of programming, and helped to foster the growth of Māori in the industry. In 2000, he went independent and expanded his work into film and other media.

Tainui has served as a board member and advisor to various industry agencies including the NZ Film Commission, New Zealand On Air, Script to Screen, Māori Spectrum Trust, and The Māoriland Charitable Trust. He is a long time advocate and practitioner of Māori language in media and is often asked to speak or commentate on the contemporary Māori world.

Tainui was an early producer for iconic Māori television series like Waka Huia, Marae and Anzac Day; Nā Rātou Mō Tātou. He has made influential social documentaries like Māori Battalion March to Victory, The New Zealand Wars and Taumata 3001. He has produced popular entertainment shows like When the Haka Became Boogie, Mai Time and My Party Song. He has been a producer for feature films that have taken Māori stories worldwide; River Queen, Rain of the Children, The Dead Lands and Whina.


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