Episode 23: The Governor (Part 2)

Our coverage of the 1977 TV epic The Governor continues with a detailed discussion of the final three episodes: ‘He Iwi Ko Tahi Tatou’, ‘The Lame Seagull’, and ‘To The Death’.

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The Governor

Episode Four – He Iwi Ko Tahi Tatou

Director: Tony Isaac
Producer: Tony Isaac
Screenplay: Keith Aberdein

Wiremu Tamehana…
Don Selwyn
George Grey…Corin Redgrave
Rewi Maniapoto…Kuki Kaa
Te Wherowhero…Bill Tawhai
Tamati Waka Nene…Napi Waaka
Tioriori…Do Kahu
Wikitoria…Keri Kaa
Kingi…Paka Tawhai
Donald McLean…Alan Jervis

Episode Five – The Lame Seagull

Director: Peter Muxlow
Producer: Tony Isaac
Screenplay: Keith Aberdein

Sir George Grey…Corin Redgrave
General Sir Duncan Cameron…Martyn Sanderson
Private Landers…John Callen
Private Tanner…Barry Emslie
Corporal Johnson…Norman Fletcher
Colonel Carey…Terence Cooper
Captain Gorton…Peter Hayden
Christine Balneavis…Louise Pajo
Hamiora…Rawiri Paratene
Wiremu Tamehana…Don Selwyn

Episode Six – To The Death

Director: Peter Muxlow
Producer: Tony Isaac
Screenplay: Keith Aberdein

Sir George Grey…
Corin Redgrave
Annie George…Aileen O’Sullivan
Seymour George…Peter Bool
Nancy…Vivienne Riddle
Sir William Fox…Antony Groser
John Ormond…Stephen Crane
George McLean…Bernard Kearns
John Sheehan…John Bach
Richard John Seddon…Marshall Napier
Wiremu Kingi…Paka Tawhai


  • Thankfully two of the episodes we cover this week (which happen to be the best of the series) are very easy to see. He Iwi Ko Tahi Tatou and The Lame Seagull are both available to watch through NZ On Screen. If you want to see To The Death it’s a bit more tricky. If you live in Wellington you can see it at Ngā Taonga‘s medialibrary, otherwise you’re out of luck.
  • Quite a few of the actors get overlooked in this episode due to time constraints. Napi Waaka, who not only played Tamati Waka Nene but also acted as Maori Advisor and Moko Artist, is an extraordinary figure. He was a methodist reverend, a gifted saxophonist, music composer, orator, and one of the founders of Te Matatini. Sadly, he passed away in November 2016. For more information about his life, you can watch a 2011 episode of Waka Huia on YouTube, or an episode of the Maori Television series Ngā Tāngata Taumata Rau from August last year.
  • Wiremu Tawhai (Te Wherowhero) was a teacher, serving as principal at Te Whanau a Apanui Area School and later as a lecturer at Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi. He was an expert on maramataka, the Maori lunar calendar, and wrote a book based on his academic research titled ‘Living By The Moon’. Unfortunately, a Waka Huia programme about his life is no longer available to watch on the TVNZ website, and has not been uploaded to YouTube. There is, however, a very short news bulletin from Te Karere about his passing in 2010.
  • The episode of E Tū Kahikatea about Keri Kaa that Hayden mentions is no longer available to watch on Maori TV’s website. Instead, here’s an interview with her from 2014 on Radio New Zealand. Some more background on Keri Kaa, as well as an interview with the director of the E Tū Kahikatea episode about her, is available on the Wellywood Women blog.
  • Something the final episode doesn’t quite manage to capture is the extent to which Grey’s health deteriorated in the years prior to his death. In a Listener article from November 5th 1977, historian Keith Sinclair tells a story related to him as a boy by an elderly friend. The friend had seen Grey “wandering and lost, at the East India docks in 1897, the year before his death. By then [his] mind had gone. He had a ticket with his name and address tied round his neck. My old friend called a cab for him.”
  • Moko artists Napi Waaka and Eruera Nia actually used three special felt pens to create the correct colour – blue, black, and green. According to a Listener article from October 1st 1977, the process required the layers of Moko to be built up using plastic skin imported from Germany. The skin was both the wrong colour and too shiny, so had to be treated with a matting agent and greasepaint to match the actor’s skin-tone. The finished make-up held up well under rain, but the plastic skin couldn’t handle exposure to heat, so shooting close-ups under hot lights was difficult.

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