Though Tui Keenan had been on hunting trips with her husband before, it wasn't until she shot her first deer early last year that she became hooked.

"It sounds weird, but what I felt after that was exactly the same feeling as when you give birth to a baby - you get all of these endorphins flowing through your body," she said.

"It was that rush that hooked me."

Fast-forward a year, and the tables have turned for the Gisborne couple. Husband Comrie works as a police officer, while Keenan works as a family harm response coordinator alongside the police force.

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Comrie, 45, has spent a good chunk of the last few months looking after their five daughters, while Keenan, 40, has "gone bush" - filming for a new wāhine-focused show Hunting with Tui.

The show will air on Māori Television early next month, following Keenan and her daughters as they tour hunting and fishing spots around the country.

Keenan said hunting with her husband, who also features on the show, has brought them together as a couple. These days, though, she hunts more frequently than he does.

"I've taken over his gun and renamed it Betty - much to his disgust."

Keenan said her daughters have learned valuable lessons from the show, such as "being kaitiaki, or guardians" of the land.

Tui Marama Keenan stars in a new show on Māori Television, in which she teaches her daughters about a hunter-gatherer way of life. Photo / Samuel Richards
Tui Marama Keenan stars in a new show on Māori Television, in which she teaches her daughters about a hunter-gatherer way of life. Photo / Samuel Richards

"That's something I've really noticed they've learned from me on my journey, is protecting the land - and realising it's everyone's responsibility to nurture animals, the land and the sea.

"It's not just a Māori thing, it's an everybody thing."

Along with this heightened respect for the land, Keenan had gained a better understanding of her heritage.

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A turning point came when she was filming the first episode of the show around Gisborne, and climbed her family's maunga, Mt Hikurangi, for the first time.

"As I went up there, it was a beautiful spiritual moment. Something clicked inside of me - it was like I had discovered who I am as a Māori wahine.

"I was crying, but a good crying - it was because I had recognised the truth - that I'd been believing a lie for so long," she said.

Growing up in a overwhelmingly Pākehā environment, Keenan said she came into adulthood believing Māori were inferior.

"But when I went up my mountain for the first time it's like that lie exploded."

She hoped her daughters would come to this realisation earlier than she had, at 39.

"That's something that I really want for my girls, that they will learn who they are as ladies, as Māori, as hunters."

All of Tui's five daughters feature on the show, though she said not all of them love getting their hands dirty. Photo / Samuel Richards
All of Tui's five daughters feature on the show, though she said not all of them love getting their hands dirty. Photo / Samuel Richards

Keenan got stuck into hunting last year, after a trip with one of Comrie's friends. She'd gradually introduced the sport to her daughters, who had varied enthusiasm for getting their hands dirty.

"Two out of the five are hooked - Stevie-Anne and Gracie," Keenan said.

"They kind of fight about who's going out - the other three seem to be more into it because they get to hang out with me."

Reilly, 5, is the youngest of the girls, and Brooklyn, 18, the eldest. They all feature in the show to varying extents.

Jane Reeves, producer of Hunting with Tui, said inspiration came about when she heard about Tui and her newfound passion from a colleague.

"Tui leads by example and I hope that a hunting show that is presented by a strong, fit wahine who loves every aspect of the hunt will inspire other wāhine," Reeves said.

"She embraces the physical challenge of hunting and the sheer enjoyment of being outdoors in our beautiful landscape."