Maori TV news anchor Peata Melbourne has always been the type to go her own way, to do her own things, to say what she thinks.
She freely admits to being a huge Milli Vanilli fan for one thing. We’re talking about great adulation here too – I learned German and French at school because Milli Vanilli was German and French. Had a cat named Milli, then one named Vanilli, and still has her music on her playlist today.
Aside from late ’80s pop obsessions with lip-syncing, the seasoned broadcaster has also been vocal in her 20-plus years in the media business, and has never been afraid to challenge the public. status quo.
Maybe it’s the Tuhoe in her that brings it out.
Hailing from RÅ«atÅki, on the edge of the Urewera Ranges, Melbourne grew up in a family of native Maori speakers, in a region where reo has endured in its original form since pre-colonial times.
With apparent delight, she tells the story of her great-great-grandmother, a mid-1800s Princess Tuhoe in whose honor Melbourne is named, and it’s not hard to imagine that some of the qualities she possesses today could have been passed on to her. line.
âAll I remember from the stories I heard about her was that she wasn’t afraid of anyone and came face to face with a group of men who stole. his pigs. She got them back – looks like my kind of lady.
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Growing up on the kapa haka scene – âI was shooting a poi before I could walkâ – Melbourne moved to Rotorua at a young age and quickly competed in national competitions. Kapa haka will continue to be a big part of her life for the next two decades and she will later pass this passion on to her daughter, now 16.
While attending Waikato University, her mastery of Melbourne Maori reo saw her be offered a job with the short-lived Aotearoa television network, a role she accepted on the strict condition that they never put it in front of a camera.
Eventually overcoming this shyness in front of the camera, Melbourne’s media career since then has been largely divided between stints as a reporter and presenter on both MÄori TV and TVNZ, but she has also worked as an actress, has been attached to press for MP Georgina Te Heuheu, and spent a year with tobacco giant Philip Morris International as communications manager in New Zealand.
“I was prepared for all the controversies and criticisms that were to come,” Melbourne said of her time with Philip Morris.
“It was a bit difficult to manage the flak, but in terms of my personal trip there, I loved it because I was learning all these new things – new information and new things for my kete.”
Used to stirring the pot, Melbourne was also outspoken on several other matters, questioning Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa’s decision to play a Maori haka at the red carpet premiere of Aquaman (alongside her former partner Temuera Morrison) and defending the tattoo of a moko kauae on a PÄkehÄ life coach whose Maori husband wears a full facial moko.
âI’m going to challenge a lot of ideas,â Melbourne explains. “My problem with moko kauae is that now it’s become mainstream, it has lost the importance it once had – because only one person in my family line that I know ever had it – so we could you might as well go now and accept that’s what it’s gonna be.
“That doesn’t mean he doesn’t matter yet – he just took a different path.”
Recently adding another string to its bow, Melbourne formed his own company Te Koru Media and is currently in post-production on his first short film, Disturb, the story of a grandmother struggling with her grandson’s methamphetamine addiction.
And although currently a constant and professional presence as the presenter of the nightly newsletter Te Ao MaramaMelbourne admits she missed her days reporting on the pitch.
âI miss it because I love going out and talking with people – that’s why I loved being a journalist, being in the thick of it and seeing and meeting the community,â she says.
âBut now that I’m back on MÄori TV, I really accept my role here because I feel responsible to our Maori audiences – they deserve a really good newsletter and I want to be a part of it.
“So from that point of view, I think I’ve finally settled down and know what I’m supposed to do.”
Te Ao MÄrama – Maori television on weeknights