NZFC announces Senior Executive Pou Whakahaere

Producer Karen Te O Kahurangi Waaka-Tibble if the NZFC Pou Whakahaere


NZ Film Commission Announces Senior Māori Executive

Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commission today announces the appointment of Karen Te O Kahurangi Waaka-Tibble to the newly-created senior executive position of Pou Whakahaere. Waaka-Tibble is a producer with extensive experience in governance, culture, intellectual property rights, iwi and community organisations as well as active involvement in Māori screen issues. (A full biography and photograph is attached.)

Making the announcement, NZFC CEO Annabelle Sheehan says it is this wide-ranging career which makes Waaka-Tibble such an asset to the NZFC. “The span and depth of her experience will be invaluable as we head into the important next phase of Te Rautaki Māori. She has an extraordinary mix of skills and expertise as well as significant connections in the industry and with government. I am so pleased to welcome her to the NZFC and I believe she will have an enormous impact on our culture here and on the future of the New Zealand screen industry.”

As Pou Whakahaere, Waaka-Tibble will be responsible for ensuring the effective implementation of the NZFC’s Te Rautaki Māori strategy announced last month. Te Rautaki brings with it a commitment to three new funding initiatives for the production and development of Māori films. The strategy was created over the past two and a half years in collaboration with Māori screen organisation Ngā Aho Whakaari and the wider Māori film sector. [Links: Te Rautaki in full and funding details]

Karen Te O Kahurangi Waaka-Tibble, newly-appointed NZFC Pou Whakahaere, says, “I am delighted that this new role will give me the opportunity to facilitate funding for Māori films and career development for Māori filmmakers. I’d like to acknowledge the hard work and deep thought that has been put into the creation of this strategy and the Pou Whakahaere position from Māori filmmakers and NZFC staff and particularly Annabelle Sheehan for kick-starting it as soon as she was appointed CEO.”

Ngā Aho Whaakari chair Christina Asher says: "These are exciting times. After 20 years of protest we have Te Rautaki and in Karen we have a leader who has the mana and the skills to manage it effectively. Her career proves her dedication to our kaupapa - she has years of experience of working with Māori screen creatives in supporting te reo me ngā tikanga. Her colleagues in Ngā Aho Whakaari look forward to working alongside her to make Te Rautaki, and also the aspirations of our filmmaking tupuna Barry Barclay, Merata Mita, Tama Poata, Tungia Baker, Don Selwyn and Ramai Hayward, become a concrete, working reality."


Ma te huruhuru, ka rere te manu

With feathers, the bird will fly



Further information: 

Karen Te O Kahurangi Waaka-Tibble bio

Karen Te O Kahurangi Waaka-Tibble is of Te Arawa descent, born and raised in Rotorua. She is also of Scottish, Irish and English descent.

For the past 15 years she has been producer for Kura Productions, working with Quinton Hita on a range of television productions using Te Reo Māori, including long-running language programmes Tōku Reo and Pūkoro and the suite of Kōwhao Rau shows. Also in her credits are the documentary Te Kati – The Goethe Mystery and the comedy series Only in Aotearoa and well as feature films Mt Zion (she was line producer with director Tearepa Kahi) and Maui’s Hook (as producer with director Paora Joseph).

She has served as a board member of Ngā Aho Whakaari - the Māori in Film & Television collective - advocating for funding, training, and Māori improvements across the industry and working with other industry guilds. She was secretary/ treasurer from 2009 to 2011 and then again in 2015-2016 when Ngā Aho Whakaari celebrated 25 years as an industry organisation.

Prior to her screen industry career, she worked extensively in the tourism industry in Rotorua plus other Māori development initiatives and with over 25 years’ experience as a cultural performer, she has promoted New Zealand and Māoridom through China, United States, Germany, and Japan.

She was a policy analyst and facilitator with Te Puni Kōkiri (Ministry of Māori Development) and business mentor for the Māori Tourism Facilitation Service (2005–2008), providing advice to Māori businesses. She has also held management and marketing roles with Tarawera NZ Ltd, Te Kahui Hauora Trust, NZ Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, and was chair of the Māori Regional Tourism Organisation, Māori in Tourism Rotorua, for 10 years.

She has served on national boards: Māori Tourism Advisory Group to the NZ Tourism Strategy 2010, Ministerial Advisory Group on Immigration, NZ Tourism Research Council and Aotearoa Māori Tourism Federation.

From 2000-2002 she was a member of the Māori Tourism Advisory Group appointed by then Minister of Tourism Mark Burton to provide advice on national tourism strategy. At the same time, she was on the advisory body to

Waiariki Polytechnic’s Tourism Degree, advising on the curriculum and before that, in 1991, she was writer of the Māori Tourism Unit Standards for the NZ Qualifications Authority.

She is currently Chair of the Māori Trademarks Advisory Group (since 2003) and was a member of the 1995 focus group that developed the discussion paper and consultation with Māori that saw many of the recommendations being included in the revised legislation.

In 2006, she travelled with the Official NZ Delegation to Geneva to attend the eighth session of the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore. She has maintained her work in intellectual property, being appointed to the Patents Māori Advisory Committee in 2015 and is also a member of the Māori Working Group for the Plant Variety Rights Review.

Karen is also active in whānau and hapu including her Marae Trust renovation project (since 2016) and the inaugural Tūhourangi Tribal Authority (2007-2011), one of the iwi affiliates to the Te Arawa Treaty Settlement Entity. She has also been part of the collation team for Te Arawa Regional Kapa Haka Festival (2002, 2004, 2010) and for the Bay of Plenty Secondary Schools Māori Festival (2000) and from 1999-2001 she was on the organising committee of the Opera in the Pa event in Rotorua.

Karen has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Waikato University in Political Science, Māori and Education.

She has twin daughters, Ashleigh and Angela and a son Te Irikau and 3 grand-daughters – Te Puhi Māreikura, Rukuwainuiātea and Mahina Aotea-Lea.


Contact details: 
Sue May, Kiriata Publicity | 0274 739 318

Written by

Kiriata Publicity and Distribution

5 Jun 2018

Interests Kiriata Publicity operates as a specialist publicist of films in New Zealand, created and owned by film publicist Sue May.