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Coastwatchers: Operation Pacific

A look back at some of NZ's important war history.

Mihingaarangi Forbes – Producer

In mid 2019 Mihingaarangi picked up a Facebook message from Willie Cuthers asking her to take a look at his research about Pacific Island Coastwatchers. Forbes who is from Waikato and Hauraki  and whose ancestors fought against enlisting for WW1 following mass confiscations of their lands just decades earlier, had never been interested in the stories of war until now. She knew nothing about the Pacific Island contribution to the war effort and felt motivated to help Willie Cuther’s tell the story of his people. 

She’s proud of the team she has brought together, they have collectively been able to bring the voices of the Pacific alive and have these untold stories finally added to our nation’s war history. She said “History is powerful, having your voice included in New Zealand’s collective historical memory is imperative, no one should feel left out.”

Mihingaarangi Forbes is an award winning journalist and documentary maker who created the NZ Wars series – Stories of Waitara and Stories of Ruapekapeka. Stories of Ruapekapeka won Best Documentary at the NZTV Awards 2018 and Best Innovation in digital story telling at the Voyager Awards.

Cameron Bennett and Annabelle Lee-Mather – Directors

With Cameron’s passion for New Zealand history and Annabelle’s empathy and compassion for people this combo was always going to be a winning duo.  Both award winning journalists and producers, the two leaned on each others expertise to produce a compelling and powerful story. With the careful eye of our director of photography, Arthur Rasmussen they collectively created a stunning piece of television.  

Annabelle Lee-Mather is the producer of The Hui, a M?ori current affairs show and the Executive Producer of Casketeers, NZ Wars and Matangireia.

Cameron Bennett is an award winning journalist, writer and producer. He field directed both episodes of New Zealand Wars and produced the documentaries “Echoes of Gallipoli” and “A line in the sand”.

Willie Cuthers

Willie Cuthers is a Police officer and has served for 18 years first in Counties Manukau and later he moved to the Waikato District. Willie is currently studying Te Reo M?ori on Te Tohu Paetahi at the University of Waikato. He became interested in research when he was researching the Pacific as part of his Bachelor’s degree. Since then he has completed a Master’s degree and had five academic publications on the topic of the indigenous identity. He hopes to successfully complete Te Tohu Paetahi and in future undertake further studies.

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