Comedian Pio Terei hooked up with the Auckland Parenting group 20 years ago and is still using his Māori sense of humour to deliver some much needed punchlines and skills for parents of today.
Terei and his Kōwhai Production partners - long time TV executive producer Gavin Wood and Robert McLaughlin, part of the crew behind the successful and fashionable Food in a Minute and the “Spray and Walkaway” adverts, teamed up with actor/director Miriama McDowell to create 24 90-second informational social media clips that traverse a number of topics that parents might struggle to talk to their children about.
Whānau Matters subject matter includes absent parents, grief, health issues, mirroring, my lonely dad, bullying and a number of other topics looked through a Māori lens.
The 90-second clip series was funded by E Tū Whānau, an organisation and movement for positive change developed by Māori for Māori.
Terei said when he was first asked to look at the material the parent groups were trying to deliver to the masses 20 years ago, he was taken aback.
“When I saw the information that this organisation shared, I was quite sad because I knew that information wasn’t getting through to Māori of Pasfika,” Terei told the Herald.
“So I started training up as a presenter and parent advisor and I’m still there. I can’t leave now because there’s just so much potential to create a difference.
“I love being part of an organisation like this and upskilling people to be better parents and how to approach delicate subjects with their teenagers is a good thing.”
“I have seen real change in parents. I’m not a big fan of the have another teaspoon of cement and harden up. I want all our young people to be strong in their spirit and strong in their bodies.
“I tell parents that your kids can be warriors of the MMA but equally they can be warriors of poetry. The era of rugby, racing and beer has not done us too much good. Society has changed.”
Terei said the Whānau Matters brief was right in his wheelhouse of communicating key messages to whānau - Māori and non-Māori.
“I don’t think I invented this word but it’s called Edutainmant - it’s where you educate and entertain in the same way,” he said.
“If you had a teacher who could educate and entertain, that was a teacher who you learned from.
“I have been fortunate that I have been communicating to Kiwis for a number of years. I’m not big-headed but I could get a message to people clearer and with more understanding than a government department. That’s a joke.”
During his career, Terei says he spent long periods on the road and away from his own whānau to make ends meet, and ”that was not a good thing and out of balance”.
While the Whānau Matters videos clips are implemented through a Māori lens, the subjects are tense, sometimes serious and sometimes funny. The Parenting Place in Auckland provides valuable evidence-based input and the scripts created by Kōwhai Productions is fact-based.
The next series will be add more whānau to the conversations, including more tane Māori.
“It is good for our men to stand up and take some leadership over this because for too long it has been left to our wāhine,” Terei said.
The Herald has permission to upload the entire 24 video series, thanks to E Tū Whānau, Kōwhai Productions and Māori Media.