Todd Christian Cameron Ranginui Karehana was born in Whakatane, New Zealand on June 7, 1987 to Rahi Alma Te Ua (Ngāti Awa, Te Arawa, Ngāti Ruapani) and Turapaki Joseph Gardiner (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngai Te Rangi). He was raised in Kawerau alongside six brothers and three sisters.
In 2014 Karehana graduated from The University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Studies & Media, Film and Television. In the same year he directed his first film THE KWEENZ OF KELSTON- a short documentary about a group of transgender, fa’afafine and takataapui teenagers that attend an all-boys high school and compete in an inter-school talent quest. The film screened at imagineNATIVE and was noted by Ron Brownson (Senior Curator, New Zealand and Pacifc Art at the Auckland Art Gallery) as “one of the most important documentaries of the decade”.
In 2015 he graduated from The University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) specialising in Screen Production. While there, Karehana wrote, directed and produced THE SPECTACULAR IMAGINATION OF THE PŌHARA BROTHERS, a short film which follows two boys that sell flying lessons to pay their mother’s overdue power bill before the power is disconnected. The film features well-known Māori singer Whirimako Black as “Grumpy Kuia” alongside a cast of non-actors from his hometown, Kawerau. The film won Best Short Film Script at the 2016 Wairoa Māori Film Festival and went on to screen in Ngā Whanaunga Shorts at the New Zealand International Film Festival, where it won three audience choice awards; Best Māori Short Film, Best Actress- Whirimako Black, and Best Actor- Sonny-Beau Ngaheu.
In 2016 Karehana wrote and directed MY BROTHER MITCHELL, a semi-autobiographical short film based on the death of his brother Mitchell Nathan Karehana. The film follows nine-year- old Todd as he steals Mitchell’s dead body from the funeral, leaving their mother in search of answers. The film was his first collaboration with producer Mia Mārama Henry-Teirney and was submitted as his MA Thesis Film at The University of Auckland.
Currently, Karehana works as a writer for Kura Productions on AHIKĀROA, a new Maori scripted drama which will be released early 2018 online and on Maori Television.
See Todd in the following session: