Upcoming series Kaitangata Twitch already making waves

Just weeks before locally-made family drama Kaitangata Twitch makes it to New Zealand screens, the rest of the world is already giving the series the thumbs up.

Kaitangata Twitch, a 13-part series based on the Margaret Mahy novel and premiering on Maori Television on May 2, has been shortlisted for two major international children’s television awards.

Maori Television’s general manager of programming Haunui Royal says the channel is thrilled to see the programme, which is made for a family audience, making waves on the global stage: “We’re so pleased with the quality of this project, from the pen of Margaret Mahy and turned into a series by some of the most experienced television hands working in New Zealand. It seems the programme is relevant not only to all New Zealanders, but to the rest of the world as well.”

Prix Jeunesse is a highly-regarded, bi-annual international award that recognises excellence in children’s television. The programme has made the cut in the 7-11 year olds’ fiction category, with voting in the hands of fellow finalists.

“The Prix Jeunesse is the most prestigious prize in the world for children’s and family television,” says director and co-executive producer Yvonne Mackay, whose Wellington-based company Production Shed made the series. “If it was film, it would be like being accepted to be in competition in Cannes. We think ours is the first show ever in New Zealand to be in the finals, so this is incredibly exciting for us all.”

The awards, which are held in Munich in Germany will be announced on June 3 (NZ time).

Meanwhile, the series has already won a prize at WorldFest-Houston. Named in the top four, Mackay will find out on April 18 (NZ time) if it bags the bronze, silver, gold or platinum award.

Mackay has already helped to negotiate sales of the programme to several broadcasters including ABC in Australia, as well as Sweden and Canada. She is hopeful the Houston award will give Canadian-based distributors Lenz International a boost to close sales in America.

Mackay says the name of Margaret Mahy, a New Zealand writer of international acclaim, has aroused strong interest in buyers. The Maori themes and language give a point of difference to potential buyers and viewers.

“I think that the funders in New Zealand recognised that Kaitangata Twitch was an international product, but also that it was perfect for Maori Television.

“Maori Television has a mandate to support the reo and tikanga elements. There also themes that come through from the Maori worldview, like conservation, and importance of knowing who you are by being Maori. In emphasising those I think we have created something incredibly unique to show the world.”

Kaitangata Twitch was made with funding from Te Mangai Paho, NZ On Air and Maori Television.

General manager of programming Haunui Royal says Maori Television is thrilled to see the programme, which is made for a family audience, making waves on the global stage: “We’re so pleased with the quality of this project, from the pen of Margaret Mahy and turned into a series by some of the most experienced television hands working in New Zealand. It seems the programme is relevant not only to all New Zealanders, but to the rest of the world as well.”

Kaitangata Twitch screens on Maori Television from Sunday May 2 at 7.00 PM. Episodes will be available online after screening at www.maoritelevision.com
 
ABOUT KAITANGATA TWITCH:

Action, adventure, myth and magic come together in this amazing supernatural thriller, to tell the story of 12-year-old Kiwi girl Meredith Gallagher, and a mysterious island, an island with a secret, Kaitangata.

The last time it moved was an earthquake 50 years ago. It ‘twitched’, and a young girl disappeared without trace, perhaps swallowed up by the island. Now it’s moving again …

Meredith lives with her family in a beautiful bay that looks out to the island. Her father and sister, both ‘eco warriors’, are getting all fired up about plans to build new houses they say will spoil their bay.

Meanwhile, Meredith has other things on her mind as she starts having strange dreams about Kaitangata. It seems like the island is getting angry, but only she can find out what the island wants, before something terrible happens. Before it claims another victim!

Based on a book by the one and only Margaret Mahy, tune in to Kaitangata Twitch on Maori Television from Sunday May 2 at 7.00 PM

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