Brown Eye is Maori Television's foray into news satire. We asked presenter Nathan Rarere and producer Bailey Mackey about the thinking behind the programme and the deeper meaning on the show's name.
Brown Eye, catchy title. Was Whakapohane rejected?
Nathan: I can't lay claim to coming up with the title, but my eyes are a luxurious brown. So that's something.
Bailey: Brown Eye has so many awesome meanings, doesn't it? It was one of those names that once we came up with it, we wondered why hasn't there been a show with that name before? Plus I too have brown eyes.
So is this a Te News for the 21st century?
Nathan: Abe Pakatewhainau was a personal hero of mine so I won't have a disparaging word spoken about Te News. You can't just make current affairs puns by themselves any more.
People like to be more educated and all have the likes of Google and Wikipedia in the palm of their hands now. If we can make people laugh and then trick them into looking further into the subject then that's good.
Bailey: Yes, that's right ha! No one or nothing will compare to what Billy did.
It's pitched as "a satirical news show from a Maori perspective". Will it all be from that perspective? And if you don't have a Maori perspective will you still get it?
Nathan: If you could feel the joy of Homai te Pakipaki, then you can feel the focus of the Brown Eye. Anyone can feel it.
Bailey: Yeah I think so. We have non-Maori as part of the team, but you know. I guess I'm an editor in chief kind of thing so I funnel everything through my brown eyes.
Who are you hoping to entertain or educate the most?
Nathan: People who thought they already knew it all.
Bailey: Ourselves ... No seriously I hope the New Zealand public in general. That would be awesome if they were able to see things through brown eyes.
Who are you hoping to annoy or offend the most?
Nathan: People who thought they already knew it all
Bailey: Hopefully, the New Zealand public - no just joking. I guess satire is at its greatest when you punch up. Being Maori that probably means most sections of society are open for a bit of offence. To be honest though we aren't really aiming to offend, it's more about offering a different point of view and at times pointing out the ridiculousness of the truth which is ridiculous in itself.
Who is this Uncle Isaac* guy who features in the show? He looks kind of familiar.
Nathan: He's a brilliant member of staff and a wealth of knowledge. I like to describe him as either the best history teacher you'll ever have. Or the most uncomfortable.
Bailey: I actually think he may have changed his name. Maybe it will be Uncle Matiu by the time we go to air. Who knows with that guy?
*Uncle Isaac is to be played by one Taika Waititi.
Where: Maori TV
When: Fridays, 9.30pm
What: Satirical news from a Maori perspective
Maori TV are about to launch satirical comedy show Brown Eye. It’ll be hosted by television and radio presenter Nathan Rarere and feature co-creator Taika Waititi. Standing Room Only producer Shaun D Wilson spoke to Nathan along with producer and co-creator Bailey Mackey as they prepare to send their comedy baby out into the world.
Twenty years after bringing Ice TV to the nation's youth, Nathan Rarere will be back in prime-time shortly hosting new Maori TV current affairs show Brown Eye. He talks to James Croot about what viewers can expect from what's described as an "unadulterated, opinionated and entertaining satirical news show".
How did you hear about the show and what attracted you to presenting it?
Bailey Mackey (one the show's creators) got hold of me and asked me to audition. You've got to really think hard about auditioning for a show like this because it carries with it a fair amount of ethics and social responsibility. But once I saw the ideas and read an audition script, I couldn't wait to be involved in some form, and I guess I'm lucky to be the guy up front.
Will you be modelling yourself on any particular host/presenter of a similar sort of show?
I've never really modelled myself off any presenter before, I've always found you just end up doing a weak impression of a strong character. But I do admire the work of shows similar to this, with John Oliver and John Stewart currently the best in the business. I was also a big fan of Jeremy Wells' style on Eating Media Lunchtoo.
What have you been doing to prepare for the series?
Whilst I've been a sports presenter for the past seven years, I've been navigating the world like most other people. A dad, husband, house owner (mortgage slave) and guy figuring out how to feed the family and pay the bills. Everyday life fires challenges at all of us, my life experiences and those of my family provide me with daily laughs and frustrations that hopefully we can relate to our audience.
What do you think are the biggest issues that will concern your viewers or that they will want to see the mickey taken out of?
There are many issues we need to tackle, but it's not just about what issues we tackle, it's how we look at them. Like children going to school without food – how come it still happens? If we've got money to possibly throw at a yachting campaign, how come we can't feed the kids? And who decided that? Someone had to be sitting in parliament somewhere and thought to themselves, "I guess feeding those kids would make them look forward to education and make school seem like a safe and welcoming place to be... but have you guys seen those yachts?! 60-knots bro! That's like...um...really, really fast! Can a kid do 60-knots? Can a kid get me a dinner with a billionaire in the Bahamas? Coz one of those yachts can! I vote yachts!" But in the grand scheme of things there is plenty in life that is ripe for the mickey taking eh?
What can viewers expect, what regular features do you have planned and can tell me a bit about the format and what do you think will set it apart from the other topical comedy shows currently on air?
What will set us apart will be heart. We've got a really varied range of people throwing their brain power at this show, but each of us come with heart.
We'll have panel discussions, I saw Mike King hanging around in the kitchen yesterday and we told him we'd make him a coffee if he agreed to come on the show, so he said yes. He loves coffee. When you've got someone as talented as Taika Waititi to teach you history lessons then you know we're going to educate. Our audience will finish the year as the smartest audience in world TV history probably.
How do you feel about taking on 7 Days in their established time slot (although they are currently off the air at the moment) and are you hoping to pick up the slack created by the departure of Jono and Ben to an earlier hour?
We decided to settle that battle on people's remotes as opposed to the "fight in the car park" that had been suggested earlier by txts. It would have made a great YouTube clip, but it's so hard to organise.
How much do you think you can get away with in the 9.30pm Friday time slot?
Well there shouldn't be any kids up watching at that point in time so I'd say we could go anywhere!
What is going to be the toughest challenge of putting the show together? Have you worked out a weekly schedule you need to work to? Can you talk me through that plan as it currently stands?
The toughest challenge will be finding our style. Bailey Mackey and Callie Adams have done hard work putting the team together. A Monday writers' meeting kicks off the week and there is much polishing and honing to be done by the time we come to shoot the show on Thursdays. That gives us a day to be able to construct the show properly so that people can watch on Friday night.
In all the projects I've ever worked on, episode one looks different to episode five ... it's the same as any work team. You just gotta find your roles.
Finally, how has TV changed since you first worked on Ice TV in 1995?
In our first year of Ice TV, we did a piece where Jon Bridges explained to us all what this strange new thing called the "World Wide Web" was... so it's safe to say it's changed completely. Even the ability to just go film stuff on a video camera. I had come from a music TV background where we just used whatever equipment was lying around so our Ice TV styling was quite lo-fi. One of the first pieces we ever filmed at Ice was submitted on video tape and the techno people at TV3 said, "but this isn't broadcast quality". TV is a much more instant and adaptable beast now. Thanks for asking me about Ice TV, I feel about a billion-years-old now.
Brown Eye debuts on Maori TV at 9.30pm on Friday, May 15.