Director, Writer, Co-creator, Actor
Oscar has taken the reins on Duckrockers as the co-creator, writer, director - and even with an acting cameo as Isaac - teenage Albert’s father. Oscar is a part of the Naked Samoans comedy theatre group and was also one of the writers and performers on the hit animated series bro’Town, which won Best Comedy at the 2005 New Zealand Screen Awards. On the small screen, Oscar and fellow bro’Town (and Duckrockers) creator Elizabeth Mitchell co-wrote the TV3 sketch series, Radiradirah. Previously, he has worked as a presenter on Sportzah, Snatch Our Booty, Made in Taiwan and TV3 rugby coverage. He was also a writer and performer on Skitz and Telly Laughs and a storyliner on Shortland Street. Oscar has worked as a co-director on the music videos for hip-hop musician PNC and Ladi6 and 2020 directed the feature documentary Dawnraid about the rise, fall and spiritual rebirth of the most iconic and influential music label in pacific history. As an actor, as well the Sione’s franchise, Oscar took on the gritty leading role in TV series Harry, and has guest roles in hugely successful feature films Hunt for the Wilderpeople and The Breaker Upperers. Oscar began his writing career as a journalist working for various newspapers. He was one of the founders of the ground-breaking contemporary Polynesian theatre company, Pacific Underground and has written and produced a number of plays including Niu Sila, Fresh Off The Boat, Dawn Raids, Tatau and A Frigate Bird Sings. In 1998, Oscar won the Bruce Mason Award for Best New Playwright. 25 years on, Dawn Raids is currently being revisited by the Auckland Theatre Company, with Oscar back at the helm as producer. A 2006 Arts Foundation Laureate Award winner and Qantas award-winning journalist, Oscar was the recipient of a 2008 Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader Award and in 2009 was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to theatre and television. Q: What is Duckrockers about? A: Duckrockers is about a group of young Polynesian friends growing up in Auckland in the mid 80s. Their parents are probably first generation Kiwis, so they are in a unique position at a unique time - to live through a really interesting part of New Zealand’s history where the country is still getting to know Pacific Islanders. Duckrockers is about this group of friends, who grow up together, and find solace, peace and support in each other as they navigate the travails of the world. Q: Has writing these characters backwards - from adulthood to childhood been a challenging experience? A: It has been a strange experience. If I’d known we were going to get a chance to do a series of them playing teenagers, me and James would have made the adult versions way cooler. I’m kinda sad for the adult lives they’ll grow up to have (laughs), when I look at what the adults are like compared to how much life they show as young people. But it’s unique cos you very rarely get to do that - to attack something like that and create something where you have these characters that are so clear and loved, and then to have a go at them again as young teenagers. It’s been awesome, but weird.
Writer, Actor, Associate Producer
Teuila Blakely has an impressive and diverse career as a New Zealand actor, presenter, MC and writer. While Teuila is perhaps best known to Kiwi audiences for core cast role as Vasa Levi on Shortland Street, she’s also featured in Outrageous Fortune (S1), its prequel Westside, This is Not My Life, the comedy series Radiradirah and Filthy Rich. More recently she starred in Power Rangers : Beat Morphers the internationally acclaimed The Brokenwood Mysteries and Netflix feature The Royal Treatment. In Duckrockers as well as being an episode writer and associate producer, Teuila can be seen on screen as Lana - the mother of the teenage character Lelani who she brought to life in the Sione’s Wedding movies. As a presenter, Teuila fronted popular live Saturday night show Freestyle for three years (she was also one of the founding hosts when C4 music television began). She has also presented for M2 (TVNZ), TV3, C4 and Juice Music Television. In addition to working in front of the camera, Teuila’s voice has carried across the airwaves for many years. She helped launch Auckland hip hop radio station Flava FM as its first drive time host before going on to be a co-host on the breakfast show for national Pacific Island network Niu FM. She was the voice behind the sassy Sina Tapili, in bro’Town can currently be heard as one of the regular promo voices for Three. In 2003, Teuila wrote, starred in and produced the critically acclaimed play Island Girls, for which the New Zealand Herald named her one of the country’s brightest young writers. Q: Can you tell us about the qualities of your original character that remain the same in the Duckrockers iteration? A: What’s really interesting about all the characters in this series is that they are the young version of characters we’ve already met in the original films. I guess we are as similar and as different as any normal person is from a teenager, to when they grow up with all that life has thrown at them by the time they become an adult. I think what is most similar about our characters though is more about the environment they come from - that pacific girls don’t have a lot of freedom, that mothers are quite dominant in our lives and then partners become quite dominant in our lives. And I feel in the original films Lelani had to contend with the challenges of partner Sefa and in this young version we have young Lelani who has to deal with the challenges of her overbearing Mother Lana - played by me! Q: How has the experience of co-writing and casting this incredible talent on Duckrockers made you feel? A: It’s really meaningful to me personally, and us as a collective group, to be able to create this opportunity for young Pacific talent, because that certainly wasn’t available to us. I guess what we’re doing is creating the work, the characters and the opportunities that we wish had existed for us. So that’s quite a special thing to get to a place in life where you can make those things possible. That is really powerful and it does show how much the world has changed, in this country, in terms of the arts. Even though there’s a long way to go.
Sima Urale is a filmmaker and actor. Born in Samoa in 1967, she moved with her amily to Wellington when she was seven years old. She cites her experience as an actor and her occasional practice as a painter as crucial to her directorial aesthetic. Aged 19 she applied for a place at drama school Toi Whakaari. After graduating in 1989 she worked for two years as an actor in TV productions Skitz, The Semesis, Swimming Lessons and in theatre productions, Taming of the Shrew, A Pack of Girls, Think of a Garden and Frangipani Perfume. She then studied filmmaking at Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts Film and Television, winning the VCA Encouragement Student Award, and graduating in 1994 with a degree in arts, film and television. Her debut film was O Tamaiti (1996), which won best short at the Venice Film Festival, the Asia Pacific Screen Awards and the NZ Film & TV Awards, as well as a Silver Plaque at the Chicago International Film Festival. Other films include Velvet Dreams (1997) which screened at the NZ and Hawaii film festivals and won Best Documentary Award at Canada’s Yorkton Short Film and Video Festival, and Still Life (2001) which became the first New Zealand short to take the top award at the Montreal World Film Festival. She then directed Coffee and Allah (2007) and her first feature film Apron Strings (2008), both written by Shuchi Kothari. Her work as director also includes a music video for Sub-Cranium Feeling (1998) by her brother King Kapisi, a collaboration with her sister Makerita Urale, and a documentary Hip Hop New Zealand (2003). She has also directed advertising commercials, and has spent time in Samoa and Fiji, mentoring Pacific Islanders in making commercials. In 2004 she was awarded the first Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers’ Residency at the University o Hawaii. In 2010 she began lecturing at Unitech Film and Television School and in mid-2012 became head tutor at Wellington’s NZ Film and Television School.
Producer and Writer
Auckland-raised Mitchell first joined the writing staff of The Auckland Star in 1988. She befriended fellow scribe Kightley on her first day at the newspaper - a friendship that at the time they had no idea would be so prosperous. In 1990 she left to start a post-graduate Diploma of Broadcasting at Auckland University. Mitchell also has a Diploma in Journalism from Auckland Institute of Technology, and a BA majoring in languages. Mitchell’s first screen job was at TV3, assisting in on-air promotions. She went on to become the network’s commercial producer, then did time as head of on-air promotions. In the mid 1990s she went freelance, writing, producing and directing adverts and corporate presentations, before she came up with the idea of bro’town after seeing Oscar and his pals perform as part of the Naked Samoans. The first local animated series to play in prime time, this tale of Polynesian teenagers became a major hit and won an impressive run of international sales and awards. Mitchell followed bro’Town by producing and writing for 2010 sketch comedy show Radiradirah. Collaborating with many of the bro’Town crew, as well as Taika Waititi and Madeleine Sami. In 2013 Mitchell produced comedy drama Tom’s Dairy, which marked Oscar Kightley’s drama directing debut. The tale of a Spacies-mad Samoan growing up in 80s-era Auckland was named Best Short film at the Belize International Film Festival, and was nominated for four Moa awards, including Best Short Film. The same year the two reunited for Rooster Rooster Dragon Rat - Oscar’s Guide to the Chinese Zodiac. Mitchell directed and produced Kightley’s beginner’s guide to oriental star signs, which screened on TV3’s Inside New Zealand documentary slot. MitchellhasalsobeeninvolvedindevelopmentschemeHeAra,aspartofaorundtablegroupofferingsupptortoMāoriandPasifikafilmmakersastheydevelop“culturallydiverse”featuerand documentary projects.
Mario is a talented writer, director, actor and producer. He is best known for his work in bro’Town, Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business and the comedy sketch show Radiradirah. Like many of his Duckrockers family, he is part of the Naked Samoans theatre group. Mario has appeared in the feature films Nightmare Man, Rapa Nui and What We Do In The Shadows. He also has a number of television credits to his name including Diplomatic Immunity, Share the Dream, Hercules, Shortland Street and The Almighty Johnsons.