New RNZ project goes back in time to explore the New Zealand Wars

Radio New Zealand is venturing back in time with an online project, by Great Southern TV and New Zealand On Air, offering historical accounts of the New Zealand Wars.

Called Stories of Ruapekapeka, the project went live yesterday with the hope of shedding light on a dark episode in New Zealand’s history by capturing both Māori and Pākehā views on Northland’s most infamous armed conflict.

A dedicated Stories of Ruapekapeka webpage on RNZ is home to a 30-minute documentary and showcases a number of side-bar video pieces, animations and virtual reality battle scenes.

RNZ’s head of news Carol Hirschfeld says it offers a truly exciting multi-media experience for audiences.

“History is made real in a fantastically engaging and unique way.”

Hosting the documentary is RNZ’s Māori Issues Correspondent and presenter of TV3’s The Hui, Mihingarangi Forbes, who travels across Te Taitokerau to gather the oral stories of iwi historians, weaving their stories with those of prominent New Zealand Wars expert Dr Vincent O’Malley.

Capturing it all was award-winning film director Simon Bennett, who brings the past to life through a series of detailed re-enactments, translating the recollections of local Māori orators, including Ngāti Hine’s Peeni Henare and Ngāti Wai’s Te Warahi Wallace.

It’s one of the most ambitious projects Great Southern TV has worked on to date and executive producer Carmen Leonard says the end result is a wonderful collaboration of filmmaking techniques that will delight, educate and reveal untold stories to the audience. 

Stories of Ruapekapeka launch this week coincides with New Zealand’s first ever National Day of Commemoration on 28 October.

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