The Last Laugh


Billy T. James, the silly Maori fella with the round face, the hard case giggle, the guitar in his hand, who can make anybody – Maori or Pakeha – laugh, probably sums up the popular perception of Maori humour.  Is this all of what Maori  humour is, or is there more?

Produced by greenstone Pictures, “The Last Laugh” endeavors to dig deeper into finding the true character of Maori humour – by speaking to an array of renowned and ordinary New Zealanders.  We take a hilarious journey to explore what really makes Maori people laugh, where Maori humour occurs, the difference between Maori and Pakeha humour, and who the faces of Maori humour are – from the past and the present.

We first saw Maori humour on-stage with Maori entertainers – such as Johnny Cooper, Lou and Simon, Robbie Ratana, Ricky May, the Quintikis, the Maori Volcanics, The Howard Morrison Quartet, and of course the priceless master, Prince Tui Teka.  We take a look down memory lane at the special blend of musicianship, showmanship and natural Maori humour that touched the hearts of audiences worldwide.  This was, of course, the era that Billy T James emerged from.  He was able to cross the cultural divide by laughing at himself and his people, sometimes to the objection of some Maori…however, he always seemed to have the last laugh on Pakeha.

In the wake of Billy’s illustrious work, a new crop of Maori comedians such as Rawiri Paratene, Pio Terei and Mike King, have endeavoured to try and produce a niche of their own within this cut-throat business.  The notable thing with all these entertainers is the fact that they draw their influences, not from invented media based characters, but from real life whanau situations – from the rural communities they come from, or from their marae.  Watching the live performance of family storytellers, the hard case grandparents, the grumpy uncles, humorous aunties and nannies…and the cheeky kids, is the foundation of Maori humour.


Promotional Trailer

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Production Details

Producer: Catherine White

Network exec: Irene Gardiner

Executive Producer: Tony Manson

Maori Advisor: Ngamaru Raerino

Kai Urungi: Tainui Stephens

Director: Wayne Leonard

Researcher: Erina Tamepo

Writer: Bradford Haami

Online Editor: Daniel Habedank

Offline Editor: Steven Sinkovich

Production manager: Aroha Shelford

Camera: Ted Koopu

Sound: Brent Iremonger

Narrator: Quinton Hita

Production accountant: Glenda Paterson

Funded by: TVNZ & NZ On Air