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Tavake

About Us

The Tavake bird can be seen close to land; either leading a vaka home, or to new horizons. To us, Tavake represents an angel, a friend, a guide. Founded by Halaifonua Finau and Tom Hern, Tavake is a Production company based in Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa.

In the first ever episode of Tavake’s flagship drama series, The Panthers, lead character, Will says, “Why be a sailor following a map, when you can be a navigator, led by the stars?” This line is said in jest but is actually at the heart of what our company, Tavake, stands for. We call it ‘Burning the Map’. In other words, decolonising, or indigenizing outdated systems (across the full creative and business affairs spectrum). We have found that this Burning of the Map to be very successful in liberating us and our collaborators from restrictive systems and mindsets. 

The Team

The People of Tavake

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Tom Hern

Executive Producer

Tom loves unique human beings and their stories. He also loves music, food, and psychology. 

 

He broke into the international indie film scene as the sole producer on chess drama, The Dark Horse, a critic’s darling (98% on Rotten Tomatoes) and international award-winner (over 20 prizes - including Audience Prizes at the Rotterdam, Seattle and San Francisco International Film Festivals). Variety said, “it's the raw tone…and revealing performances that allow “The Dark Horse” to hustle its way into our hearts…the most deserving cinematic export to emerge from New Zealand in years.” Hern was the lead producer on Shadow in the Cloud, which won the TIFF Midnight Madness Award and has grossed over $10M in US VOD box office and produced Guns Akimbo (starring Daniel Radcliffe) 

 

After years of creative producing features, in 2020, Hern made the natural move into writing, directing and showrunning his own projects. Alongside biz partner, Halaifonua Finau, Hern co-created and show-ran Tavake’s drama series, The Panthers (about the Polynesian Panthers political movement in the ‘70s), on which Hern also acted as a director. The Panthers premiered at TIFF,  broke streaming records in its home territory and won a slew of Awards. 


Recently, Hern directed a docu-series in Joshua Tree California, Desert Hikoi, for TVNZ and acted as non-writing showrunner on Tavake’s latest scripted series; Madam (starring Rachael Griffiths and Martin Henderson); set within the legalised sex work industry in New Zealand (to be released later this year).

Hern is repped by Kaplan Perrone Entertainment

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Halaifonua Finau

Executive Producer

A proud Tongan, born and raised in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Halaifonua Finau, or Nua as he's more commonly known, is at the forefront of bringing Polynesian stories to our screens. 

 

He studied at Whitireia Performing Arts as a dancer but made his name in the industry as an actor and presenter, before shifting his love of performance and storytelling behind the camera. 

 

Nua brings storytelling with Tongan swag to the kava bowl of creativity. He is a writer and producer, with a mission to take his little corner of the Pacific to the world. He cut his teeth in 

children's television as a producer on Small Blacks TV and honed his skills and vibe in series two of the much-loved Polynesian series Baby Mama's Club. In 2019, Nua was co-writer and associate producer on Jonah, the tele-feature drama series on Tongan and All Blacks rugby legend, Jonah Lomu. 

 

In 2021, Nua teamed up with Four Knights’ maestro, Tom Hern and the pair founded  their production company Tavake. Tavake’s first drama series The Panthers, which Nua wrote, created and executive produced alongside Hern, was the first New Zealand TV series to premiere at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival. 

 

2023 was a landmark year for Nua. He released his first feature film 'Red, White & Brass, a crowd-pleasing family film (based on Nua's own life experiences in a family/church brass band) - which he wrote and produced alongside Executive Producers Taika Waititi and Carthew Neal. The film opened at number 1 at the local box office and went on to  become the top local film of the year and, in doing so, a certified Polynesian classic. r. 

 

Nua was the 2023 recipient of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Pacific Enterprise Award. He currently  serves on the Content Advisory Board for the Banff World Media Festival. 

Finau is represented by Kaplan Perrone Entertainment.

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Lealani Siaosi

Associate Producer

Born and raised in Hawkes Bay, Lani moved to Auckland for university where she received the Vice Chancellor’s Significant Student Scholarship to attend Auckland University of Technology, graduating in 2019 with a Bachelor of Communications, majoring in Television and Screen Production and minoring in Journalism.

With a strong passion for storytelling and serving her Pacific people, Lani directed, wrote, edited and shot her first documentary, 46 Years Later, during her final year of university. Her documentary based on a Grandmother and Grandson’s experience  as a Pacific person living in New Zealand, won Best Documentary in Direct Monthly’s Online Film Festival and is currently a finalist in the Changing Face International Film Festival and the Pasifika Film Festival 2020.

Shortly after graduating, Lani crossed paths with Crystal Vaega and joined the TUKU team as a production assistant, growing the social media platform, editing content and recruiting as well as managing talent.

Lani now works full time across Four Knights Film’s entire slate with TV series, Panthers, being her first project with the crew.

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Harsh Patel

Production Coordinator 

Harsh has always been captivated by the power of stories to move and inspire. His passion for storytelling led him to immerse himself in various drama programs at a young age and later refine his skills at Auckland University of Technology, where he majored in Film and TV production, graduating in 2019.

Harsh broke into the industry in 2021 as a social media manager for our series, "The Panthers." He crafted and executed a dynamic social media strategy that significantly boosted the show’s online presence and reach. Following his work on "The Panthers," Harsh freelanced on prominent projects like "Wellington Paranormal" and "Creamerie," where his innovative content creation and storytelling expertise shone through.

Now, Harsh brings his creative vision and technical acumen full-time to the Tavake/Four Knights Film slate, where he continues to leverage his expertise to tell powerful stories that resonate with audiences worldwide.

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