TV adaptation of Margaret Mahy’s Kaitangata Twitch

A TV adaptation of Margaret Mahy’s Kaitangata Twitch completed filming last week. The series is sche

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A thrilling, contemporary story for mainstream family audiences, with live action drama, CGI, myth and magic, Kaitangata Twitch is another amazing tale from the fertile imagination of internationally renowned author A thrilling, contemporary story for mainstream family audiences, with live action drama, CGI, myth and magic, Kaitangata Twitch is another amazing tale from the fertile imagination of internationally renowned author Margaret Mahy.  

This remarkable television adaptation, which completed filming last week, is helmed by Yvonne Mackay, episodic director of some of New Zealand’s most popular drama including Duggan; Mirror Mirror; The Insiders Guide to Happiness and its follow-up, The Insiders Guide to Love.  She has collaborated with Mahy on several previous productions include Cuckoo Land, (Gold medal winner at the 1986 New York Film Festival); the mini-series Typhon’s People and most recently, the innovative documentary A Tall, Long Faced Tale.

Of award-winner Mahy’s 200 plus stories, Kaitangata Twitch is her first cross-cultural tale.  Top New Zealand writers Gavin Strawhan (Go Girls; Burying Brian); Michael Bennett, Te Arawa (Writer/Director Outrageous Fortune; Mataku) and Laureate 2000 Briar Grace-Smith, Nga Puhi & Ngati Wai (Scriptwriter The Strength of Water) have weaved the novel into thirteen half-hour episodes, whilst simultaneously increasing the Maori content.


Set in a small coastal village on New Zealand’s beautiful, rugged South Island, Kaitangata Twitch is the story of twelve year old Meredith; her family and the incredible events that shake them – literally and metaphorically.   Filmed in High Definition, it has been
shot entirely on location in Mahy’s territory – Governor’s Bay, Banks Peninsula and is one of the first New Zealand television dramas to shoot fully in the Christchurch region, since The Governor in 1977. The local hotel was transformed into the production office, provided the catering and accommodation for many cast and crew.


Twelve year old Te Waimarie Kessell (Simone Kessell’s niece) will prove to be another great New Zealand acting discovery in the lead role of Meredith.  Her scenes opposite acting great George Henare as the mysterious old man Lee Kaa, have delighted the director.  “On screen together they are just wonderful to watch,” she says. 


Actor and Presenter Miriama Smith (We’re Here To Help, NZ’s Got Talent) plays Meredith’s Mum and in a role very much against type, Charles Mesure (
Without a Trace; Bones; Cold Case) plays Meredith’s Greenie father Carey.  Blair Strang (Shortland Street; Go Girls) proves to be a catalyst for change as property developer Sebastian Cardwell.


New faces include stunning model-turned-actress Kerry-Lee Dewing (Love Has No Language) as Meredith’s activist sister Kate; rising young actor James Davies (Legend of the Seeker) her adoring side-kick and Cejay Pickett and Francis Daly are Meredith’s younger brother Rufus and his friend Alan.


Production Designer Gary Mackay has been involved in much of the look of the film alongside Director of Photography David Paul.  The special effects sequences are in the hands of Dunedin-based Ian Taylor’s (
Ngati Kahungunu) Animation Research Ltd (ARL).


Kaitangata Twitch, commissioned by Maori Television and supported by Te Mangai Paho and NZ On Air, will be released internationally by Canadian-based Lenz Entertainment at the MIPCOM market in Cannes later this year.   It is produced by veterans of many New Zealand dramas Chris Hampson
and Executive Producers Dorothee Pinfold and Yvonne Mackay.  The series is scheduled to screen on Maori Television in 2010.

Written by

Sian Clement

4 Jun 2009