New Web Series Showcases Humorous, Human Papakura

Still from TVNZ New Blood competition's 'Kura

Local filmmakers James Watson and Vince McMillan always felt their home suburb wasn’t represented on TV – so they wrote a script to solve the problem.

Kura is a series based around Billy-John, a Māori guy straight out of high school and looking to escape small-town South Auckland.

Billy-John buys a one-way ticket to Australia, and the story follows his last week in Papakura with his best friend, Hotene. Star Lionel Wellington, who plays Hotene, stated that when the duo ask the question ‘Is home really home? Or are there bigger and better things for me overseas?’ the series gets interesting quickly.

“Papakura is one of those places with a certain charm most New Zealanders can relate to,” said McMillan. “The realities of growing up in small-town New Zealand are experienced in some way by almost every Kiwi.”

The capers and conundrums Billy-John and Hotene face are based on McMillan and Watson’s real memories of Papakura, which are generally uplifting and positive – not what the media usually presents.

“We wanted to explore some of the social issues that people who live in South Auckland will relate to,” explained Watson. “Our approach was to represent Papakura in a more comedic and positive tone, rather than how South Auckland is typically seen quite negatively in the media.”

The two describe the series as “humorous and human.” Wellington feels the same. “As funny and hori as it is, the story is still about some real issues Māori and Pacific youth go through every day here,” he said.

Kura is one of five finalist scripts selected out of 736 in the TVNZ New Blood competition. The first episode is available to watch now, but to see the rest you need to vote. Only one of the finalist scripts will become a fully-fledged series.

You can see the finalists’ first episodes here, and vote for your favourite.