Frontier Tales

Pio Terei, who fronted the documentary programme Frontier Tales, screened on TV One in 2002.

Frontier Tales was a documentary filmed in Auckland, in 2002. The interiors and interviews were shot at the Auckland Museum, with the exteriors filmed on a secluded film set just west of Auckland.

The programme was produced by Kay Elmers and Ray Lillis, who also wrote the script on which the episode was based. The episode was first screened on TV One, on 6 February 2003 (Waitangi Day) at 5pm, running for an hour before the news at 6pm.

Frontier Tales was intended as the first of a series of documentaries based on the works of New Zealand historian James Cowan (below), whose prodigious New Zealand Wars was published in two volumes, in 1922 and 1924. This particular episode, though, was the only one made.

New Zealand's foremost historian of the NZ Wars, James Cowan, 1870-1943.The programme’s presenter was Pio Terei (above), then regarded as a very successful Māori comedian. Fronting Frontier Tales cast Pio in a slightly different role.

Given his enormous talent, the ‘casting’ of Pio worked really well; he was also a delightful person to work with.

The other ‘cast member’ was Dr Danny Keenan, who, in discussions with Pio, provided on screen overviews of the histories underlying the stories of James Cowan.

Frontier Tales was produced with a budget of $124,977 by Pipi Productions, Auckland.

Rating out of 10 – 8