A new generation of local talent will have their chance to shine when the new series of Ahikāroa launches on Māori Television next month.
Among the talented actors set to star in the series – which will be available online on August 1 and then on screen four days later - is a group of young adults whose parents and whānau already know what it is like to work in the industry and are standing by to offer support and advice when needed.
As the saying goes: "Poipoia te kākano kia puawai; (Nurture the seed and it will blossom).
The ground-breaking, bilingual drama is now in its fourth series and over the years has contributed to the normalisation of te reo Māori on local drama.
Ahikāroa is a Māori drama aimed at a rangatahi audience told through the eyes of a group of friends living and surviving in the big city.
Bella Rakete, 21, daughter of long-time broadcaster and the Brown Wiggle, Robert Rakete, stars as Dylan, a flatmate in the Ahikāroa house, who is dealing with issues from a much older businessman. Bella recently graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts, has had roles on The Deadlands movie and has starred in several theatre shows.
"Dad has taught me that there are no limits to what you can do when you are creative and I'm just running with that. I'm constantly looking for any artistic medium that I can convey te ao Māori stories through. Whether it's a paint brush, poetry or through my character, Dylan, on Ahikāroa," says Rakete.
For Whiti Tumai, 21, his mother's role on television doesn't require acting, but her advice is no less important. His mum is Oriini Kaipara, who was the first TV news anchor with a moko kauae for TVNZ and who has now moved to Newshub.
Whiti plays street kid Haki. Prior to working on Ahikāroa he had no television acting experience, but was cast in the role because of his fluency in te reo and his natural presence.
"I've always been taught that everything happens for a reason and we should always work harder to accomplish what we want," Tumai says. "I've carried that same quote no matter what type of mahi I'm doing."
"I could resonate in many ways with my character and stepping into the Ahikāroa world, which resembles my reality in many ways and made acting not necessarily easy, but not too difficult either."
Former Shortland Street actor Mauri Oho Stokes, 31, is a new addition to the Ahikāroa whānau this season.
He has his uncle Temuera Morrison to utilise as a sounding board for acting roles. A professional golf coach by trade, Oho Stokes was visiting Morrison when he reappeared on Shortland Street in 2008 and wound up being cast in a role on the series.
"My sister wanted to come and see the set and my dad said I should come along and have a look myself," he says. "The casting director recognised me from an audition I'd done previously and pretty quickly offered me a role. I worked on Shorty for two years and it was an awesome experience."
"I've always looked up to Tem and the work he's done. Ahikāroa has been an amazing experience. It's been incredible to be working on a bilingual show with mainly Māori crew, I hope more shows like this are made in the future."