Once Bitten

Blended families, step-families, cross-cultural marriages and extended whanau – for many second-time round couples, one or both partners often come with heavy family baggage.

ONCE BITTEN is a documentary series about couples that have risen to the challenge to find their ‘happily ever after’ amid ferociously complex family circumstances – and the programme needs your stories.

Maybe your family swells to the size of a football team every time the rellies descend. Perhaps your relationship has caused a significant break from, or return to, your family and culture. Or perhaps you’re grappling one of life’s big events – a wedding, a baby, a new house – while juggling some big personalities within the family. The more complex the better, according to programme-makers.

“We will draw from the wider community and across two countries to find compelling stories, which highlight different issues and cultural perspectives,” says Janette Howe, whose Kingsland-based company, Caravan Productions, will co-produce the two-part programme with Circe Films in Australia. “Stories from diverse cultures across both countries: Maori, Asian, Indian, Arabic and European Australian, will show how culture and family bring us together – or can tear us apart.”

Paula Whetu Jones (Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Ngati Porou) will direct the New Zealand component of the documentary. Her credits include award-winning documentary Gang Girls, Mama Tere and Tatai Hono – and she is highly experienced in projects that involve social issues and family.

Film Finance Corporation and New Zealand On Air will fund the project, which will screen on SBS Australia and Maori Television.

With filming due to begin in August, Howe is still on the hunt for more families, and in particular hopes to hear from Maori couples who believe that sharing their story – the joys, the complications, the pitfalls, the lessons learned – will give others an insight into family life today.

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