Inaugural Screenwriters’ Residency Recipients Draw on Local Inspiration and Expertise

Great Southern Television and Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) are pleased to announce the five winners of the first-ever Tāhuna Writers Residency.

The screenwriters’ residence was created last year as a partnership between Great Southern Television and QLDC’s film office, Film Queenstown Lakes, and is supported by the New Zealand Film Commission and NZ On Air.

Danny Aumua, Malinna Liang, Tom Augustine, Isla Macleod and Todd Karehana (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāi Tamaoki, Ngāti Tarawhai, Ngāti Ruapani ki Waikaremoana) were selected from over 150 applicants from across the country for a program of workshops, mentoring, writing and presenting will be based in Queenstown from March 21 to April 14.

Great Southern Television CEO Philip Smith said he was delighted with the incredible caliber and range of contestants.

“It was a very competitive process. Our outstanding ‘Top Five’ represent a wide range of genres and writing styles, and each has captivating, courageous and exciting stories to share with the world. They make us excited about the future of Aotearoa’s screen industry and we look forward to starting working with them,” he said.

“Tāhuna is focused on creating gripping TV series that could hit major networks and streamers around the world, but are filmed in his hometown of New Zealand. These days it’s all about being brave and thinking big. We want to take these writers on the journey by providing them with the resources and insights needed to make their creative visions a reality.”

Queenstown Lakes film coordinator Kahli Scott said she was delighted to welcome the screenwriters to town.

“Danny, Malinna, Tom, Isla and Todd have all shown incredible talent in their nominations, as well as an enthusiasm for creating stories in and about our district.”

She said the purpose of the residency was to generate local stories leading to more productions filming in the neighborhood.

“Film and television production has a key role to play in diversifying our economy, creating jobs and businesses, developing local skills and enriching our communities. The projects our Tāhuna writers will create during their residency are the type of work that will help us grow and further strengthen the industry. We look forward to seeing how the writers are inspired by their presence here and rise to the challenge.

During the residency, they will each develop a concept for a scripted drama series to be based and produced in the Queenstown Lakes District.

Writers’ biographies

Danny Aumua
Danny Aumua is a 34-year-old Kiwi Samoan filmmaker from Tāmaki Makarau. He has worked as a creative producer on networks including TVNZ, Discovery Channel, Disney and Fox Sports Australia. He recently directed and wrote 26:29, an episode of TVNZ’s new horror anthology, and directed the documentary series Roar of lions for Asahi TV.NIPW World in Japan. He is currently a video producer for digital entertainment company BuzzFeed.

Todd Karehana
Todd Karehana (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāi Tamaoki, Ngāti Tarawhai, Ngāti Ruapani ki Waikaremoana) is a 34-year-old emerging Maori writer, director and producer based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Previous credits include: storyliner, writer and script editor on Ahikaroa; storyliner and co-writer on The exceptional team; storyline on Ink; storyliner on SE2 from The Panthers; and assistance with feature film writing We are always here. His directorial credits include Kelston’s Kweenz, My brother Mitchell, Night walk for loading documents, and Young and on the Paepae for TVNZ.

Malinna Liang
Malinna Liang, 26, is a first-generation Chinese-New Zealand writer based in Auckland. She is a writer on TVNZ/Greenstone’s my life is murder and was a storyliner on Vegas. She has placed in several international screenwriting competitions, most recently as a semi-finalist for the 2021 Academy Nicholl Scholarship. His prose has been published in Auckland University Press’s Landfall and A Clear Dawn.

Macleod Island
Isla Macleod is a 27-year-old writer/director residing in Tāmaki Makaurau. She is a graduate of the NZBS (Julian Walker scholarship for the best graduate) and the IIML of Victoria (project scholarship for her thesis script). She co-created the web series
Oddly even who won TVNZ’s inaugural New Blood competition. She has written/directed several short films and has been employed in Netflix series, domestic feature films, AMAs, international reality formats, a summer internship at the Globe Theater (London) and the commissioning service of TV3.

Tom Augustine
Tom Augustine, 30, is an Auckland-based filmmaker and writer. In 2019 Tom received the New Zealand Writers Guild Seed Advanced Grant to develop his first feature film script,
Incendiary, which he later developed when he was selected to attend Script to Screen’s 2020 Story Camp. In 2019-20 Tom also wrote, directed and produced The story of Te Awe a four-part documentary series for the Auckland Museum, premiering on Radio New Zealand. In 2015, Tom graduated from the University of Auckland’s Masters in Screen Production program with his short film Long time ahead, who won the Geoff Evans Memorial Prize. His writing includes articles published in Little White Lies, North + South, Metro, The Spinoff, The Pantograph Punch, Canvas, The New Zealand Herald and Birth Movies Death, as well as numerous episodes of Shortland Street.

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