New Zealand Police
January 2022
What we did
Behaviour change / Kaupapa Māori storytelling / Raising awareness / Film / Documentary

Championing the power of wāhine Māori

Puhikura trailer

For over a year, we worked in close partnership with the New Zealand Police to produce and launch Puhikura - a candid documentary series championing the power of wāhine Māori through the gift of their stories as taonga.


Wāhine Māori comprise only 3.6% of the police, despite making up 8.4% of NZ population. How can we help NZ Police attract more wāhine Māori to join the service? What kind of change do wāhine Māori hope to make for their whānau and communities? How does this fit with the way their whānau and communities see the police?


With a shared compassion for people, the whenua, and the sustenance of communities, we created Puhikura - a documentary series that features five wāhine and what calls them forward and holds them back as they consider a career with the NZ Police. Celebrating women’s strength and influence, the series explores the unique motivations and obstacles experienced by Māori women who intend to become police officers. 

Puhikura was created by and for wāhine Māori. Director Kath Akuhata-Brown brings each person’s experiences and perspectives into the light without shrinking from the realities of historical and ongoing strain between Māori and the police. Whānau insights and presence support each wahine’s reflection on their hopes, sense of purpose, and what comes next. 

From inception to completion, the production of Puhikura embraced and followed kaupapa Māori, informed by tikanga and with the intent to elevate wāhine Māori through due respect and care for every person, and place, and for tirohanga Māori —  Māori worldviews. We worked closely with advisors and designed a participant consent journey to ensure that Puhikura held the stories shared as taonga. We partnered with Bastion Shine on the design, linework and use of colour throughout the series. 


The wāhine of Puhikura shared their experiences and whakaaro as a way to help others into the future, and to contribute to healing, connection, and trust. It is hoped their stories can support all wāhine Māori interested in working in the police.

A series of community screenings shared the documentaries with the public in an effort to engage communities in korero, as well as the documentaries’ online presence on the NZ Police New Cops website. 

Puhikura documentary series - five episodes
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