23RD MARCH AT 6 PM AT RANGIATEA CHURCH
I have known Te Waihoroi (Wassi) Shortland for over three decades. He and his wife Rahera are northern kin and an important part of my Maori world.
I remember vividly his time working with us on the television programme KOHA in the mid 80’s. He had come over as a secondment from the Maori Affairs Department, and quickly made his mark as a natural television storyteller. He soon became a full time broadcaster, unique then as he is now, in his eloquent use of language. His reo Maori is earthy, expansive and flavoured with his Ngati Hine roots. His English can reflect his beliefs in concise or rhetorical fashion. Wassi is a thinker and a speaker. He is a teacher and a guide. He loves his golf too.
He has used his expertise with te reo Maori to make a profound mark in Maori broadcasting. Whether as a news reporter, a commentator, a voice over artist, translator, or studio talkshow host, Wassi long ago cemented a reputation as a sturdy and insightful TV presence. Over the years, he also developed impressive acting and writing skills in the field of film drama. He played pivotal supporting roles in Vincent Ward’s RAIN OF THE CHILDREN and Taika Waititi’s BOY. He won the NZ Film Award for best actor in 2003 for his role as Shylock in Don Selwyn’s MAORI MERCHANT OF VENICE.
Wassi is one of the most well known cultural commentators, and proponents of the Maori language today. He plays an active role in tribal affairs of the north. He is a familiar figure on marae throughout the land. He dispenses forthright opinion, wisdom and gut-bustingly funny humour in equal measure.
He has been a colleague and friend to me over the decades: as a colleague in the industry; or fellow committee or board member; or iwi kinsman at hui and in those many arenas where we commemorate and celebrate life and death.
He comes to Maoriland 2016 bearing with him enormous experience in the diverse worlds of small and big screen storytelling. He is both a humble man and larger than life character. There is no contradiction because as the gifted communicator he is, he speaks for you and I.