In this local series, letters, manuscripts, photos, artifacts, heirlooms and family stories provide the starting point for each episode.
Using drama and documentary, their past is brought to life through each character's distinct story and the telling of it from their first-person perspective.
A collection of true historical stories, 'Taonga' includes tales of love, passion, intrigue, murder and survival.
Those covered in the series include Arapeta Awatere, who was born a warrior, rose to command the 28th Maori Battalion, became a respected elder, city councillor and statesman, yet died in 1975, a prisoner convicted of murder in Mt Eden prison. His poems and diary entries take viewers on a journey of duty, love, passion and betrayal.
Maui Pomare was a man who fought for the very survival of his people, a race many believed was doomed to extinction; Te Rangi Topeora was a warrior priestess at the forefront of battle in the mid 1800s, a passionate woman who was a vengeful lover and an intelligent strategist. Before converting to Christianity, Topeora resolved one of her many husbands' affairs by killing and eating his mistress. No woman would go near him again! And Hetty Idiens-Brown would become one of Hitler's youngest prisoners during the Second World War when a routine boat trip from the Chatham Islands to Lyttleton Harbour went wrong.
The series featured actors such as Rawiri Paratene ('Whale Rider'), Taungaroa Emile ('Once Were Warriors', 'The Market') John Leigh ( 'Shortland Street' , 'Spooked'), Miriama McDowell ('No. 2') and Ian Mune ('The World's Fastest Indian').
'Taonga' started with the story of Ohaki and Albie Bennett, a classic WWII love story. 'Til Death Do Us Part' tells of a love that crossed the divide of country, war and Maori tradition. It is the incredible story of two coins, a soldier's passion and one woman's faith and belief in the man she would always love.