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Case Study

New Zealand Police Puhikura


Puhikura is the Police’s first major recruitment campaign focused specifically on wāhine Māori. Ever.


The New Zealand Police are focussed on diversifying their workforce to ensure it reflects the communities it serves. For a range of historical and current reasons, Māori have been most difficult to attract, and wāhine Māori have the lowest demographic representation. In order to communicate their commitment to both applicants and their whānau the campaign needed to be created in an authentic and sincere approach, in a te ao Māori way.

Puhikura was made to share with communities, to attract wāhine Māori recruits who care and want to make a difference.

Each documentary film, created by Wrestler, set out to deliver an open look at some of the challenges, as well as the aspirations wāhine Māori have in joining Police, with the intent that the series will assist Police to continue to improve its relationship with Māori and its recruitment process to support their application.

Acclaimed New Zealand filmmaker Kath Akuhata-Brown (Ngati Porou) directed the Puhikura films, threading a unique pepeha around each of the five wāhine portrayed and treating each kōrero with care and consideration.


Our five wāhine: Ario, Iritana, Shaquana, Sam and Desiree, told their stories with bravery and honesty, in the hopes to demystify the recruitment process and provide valuable insight.

The film crew was established to be autonomous from the Police to capture as much authentic documentary content as possible. The client wanted to ensure each wāhine could feel free to speak honestly from their own perspectives while also having confidence their honesty wouldn’t affect their Police career.

The name ‘Puhikura’ was gifted by Rahui Papa, (Waikato Tainui), referring to a person of renown, with a particular reference to mana wāhine.

Kath breathes life into the Puhikura cinematography’s kaupapa. Each film depicts the threads of past, present and future of each wāhine. They are supported in their story by another wahine who has walked their journey with them.

Kath’s intimate approach to telling these stories through first-hand perspective using handheld, close up footage work alongside wide shots of the wāhine grounded in the whenua, standing tall and proud, to echo the mana of their kōrero and give their stories room to breathe on screen.

Editor Lea McLean (Ngati Porou) worked alongside Kath to bring the kaupapa and vision to life through a wāhine Māori lens.

Each film was graded separately, their tones inspired by the wairua, whenua and personality traits of each of the five wāhine.

Fern Ngatai (Ngati Porou and Tainui) provided her expertise in Tāmoko and Toi Maori through her intricate, bespoke line work — in specific colours to articulate the wairua of each wāhine and their characteristics.

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. These stories are a taonga now and into the future.

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