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Live from Gladstone Road

The green screens and bright lights at Rāngai studios on Gladstone Road are set up for students to take over the airwaves with a career in film and television.

As well as a commercial film and television studio with green screen, motion capture and virtual production technologies, the studio has launched a student-run television show, He Tangata (The People).

The show format is taken from morning entertainment shows like TVNZ’s Breakfast and Three’s The AM Show.

“We really want the students to evolve the format and make it more youthful and pick the topics they know. I don’t think a single one of them is interested in doing weather,” said Rāngai founder and director Shannon Dowsing.

“It’s more of a focus on e-sports than traditional sports, but when we do cover sports it will focus on regional activities, like stuff around the skatepark or waka ama.”

By partnering with motion image company Target3D and Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT), Rāngai offers training pathways to allow students to do paid work while studying and getting experience in the industry.

“The cool thing is it’s local. We’re so lucky to have this opportunity,” said Ben Plowman, one of the presenters on the show.

“We have a supportive culture in Gisborne as opposed to a big city,” said Te Hira Horua, who operates the camera.

“So for young people who want to get into the industry, it’s easier to do so in Gisborne.”

Te Hira is enrolling in EIT’s Diploma in Screen Production, and hopes to move into writing and directing in the future.

The goal is to have the show broadcast on Saturday and Sunday mornings next year, partnering with TVNZ or Discovery, the new owner of Three.

“It supports a lot of the students to get the qualifications they need to enter the Level 5 course we’re providing next year,” said Dowsing.

Some students don’t have the Level 3 NCEA results required, so the practical experience in the studio can help get them into the course.

As well as the traditional show in production, students are making content for social media accounts, like TikTok, which have the potential to rack up thousands, if not millions of views when done right.

“We’re always throwing content ideas around on chat groups and we do a big brainstorm session at the start when students come in, which gives us things to research throughout the week.”

The students visit Rāngai every Friday to plan, produce and shoot the show.

There are 13 working in the studio with the addition of new staff to help run the programme.

“We have hired an associate producer to manage that aspect of the show, to work out the content ideas with the students and to flesh them out for the show, as well as finding guests.”

The students are a range of ages.

“We’ve got a mix of 13-year-olds to 25-year-olds working on the show so it’s a really broad range. The students we are able to employ are the ones joining the Level 5 next year so we have got nine students identified for that at the moment,” said Dowsing.

Studio manager Tom Paton said all the eligible students working for Rāngai are paid the living wage.

And television isn’t the only thing going at Rāngai. Soon they will be hosting regional e-sport and drone racing club with tournaments.

The show was helped out with funding from the vaccination roll-out. Each show has a segment on a youth-related topic to do with Covid-19.

One week a student went over applying for the vaccine passport and how the red level in the traffic light system affects youth spaces.

“So far we have been able to provide all our services free to the students and this opportunity, for all eligible students, is paid and for all the others it is work experience.”

Even though they have managed to tap into support, Dowsing said they had plans to make a show anyway.

“We already had the platform and were ready to go and we’re about to produce anyway. We were just fortunate that we gave a genuine rangatahi platform to speak to a new audience.

“We still have to develop that audience and get those followers. It’s an investment that has got a long life.”

THE DREAM TEAM: Some of He Tangata crew posing in the green room. From left, studio manager Tom Paton, Sophia Seaton, Rāngai founder and director Shannon Dowsing, William Rendall, Te Aroha Harrison and Omanaia Harrington. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

  1. John Goodmonson says:

    Anyone asked Dowsing, a board director of Trust Tairawhiti, how it is that he got trust funding to the tune of $225,650 for this project?

    The trust also provided initial Investigation, Research and Feasibility (IRF) funding of $24,000 which allowed him to “formulate their full business case and branding for this project”.

    The trust boasts about this “success story” on their website, but somehow seems to have forgotten to mention in the story that Dowsing is a board member. They also neglect to mention the terms of said loan – how long is it? What secures it? When is it repayable by? What’s the interest rate? If Dowsing’s idea was so good, and the $24k he got for a business case proved the business was viable, why didn’t he go to a bank for the loan like the rest of us would have to?

    The trust has also given funds to Barry Soutar, whose wife Kristen is a trustee, and Trust employee General Manager, Economic Development, Richard Searle, reportedly got funding for a business he owns with his wife to build three luxury cabins on their vineyard.

    Hundreds of thousands of dollars awarded to people who are either on, or have strong ties to, the board of Trust Tairawhiti.

    No conflict of interest here whatsoever? SMH.

    Footnote response from Shannon Dowsing:
    Kia ora
    In response to Mr Goodmonson’s questions I am happy to comment as managing director of Rāngai, and its parent company Target3D. I have no comment as a trustee as I am excluded from any discussion regarding my business and it is listed on the conflict register.
    I first made an approach to the trust in February 2019 for support. At that stage I had established a range of partners who I believed could deliver on digital strategy aspirations in the region. I have often spoken of my desire to run for council being driven by my involvement in the regional digital strategy, something I am actively trying to deliver.
    At this stage Meng Foon was Mayor and there was no appointment to the Trust on my horizon. I believed in my project and worked hard to make it a reality. It was 12 months more before I made my first successful application, the $24,000 IRF funding mentioned.
    In this time I was offered my role on the trust (beginning Dec 2019) and it is worth noting that I highlighted my conflict and made it clear that I would decline the offer if the Mayor, CE or chair were concerned with managing the conflict; they were not. My intention was always to apply to the trust and my first comment had already been made to my business partners.
    Mr Goodmonson asks a question of why I didn’t go to the bank. In short, I have. I have invested heavily in my project, much more than the lending from the trust or the grant that helped significantly after putting in 12 months worth of development, unpaid.
    It is also asked what security is against the loan; my property is the security.
    Most importantly, though, I went to the trust because we have the trust. It is an incredible asset for our community and I encourage those with big ideas and aspirations to ask for support. Be aware though, it’s not easy, my business model is complex and it took me 12 months to get my first support and another 12 to secure lending. I can blame some delays on Covid; it disrupted the business relationships formed and of these partners I’m the last man standing. All of the debt and all of the risk sits on my shoulders and as a commercial business, the loan is favourable but not free.
    Finally, I am happy to invite Mr Goodmonson or anyone else with questions to visit Rāngai, and see the outcome of the investment. It has filled an empty store in our town, engaged youth in a new career opportunity and currently has 11 employees on the books. I am proud of what I have done and have done it with integrity. I have worked tirelessly (with the help of friends and understand of family) and renovated, established and started producing shows from this unique and aspirational facility in our city.
    Ngā mihi nui

    ■ Further note from Trust Tairāwhiti chairman John Clarke:
    The trust’s audited financial statements for 2021 (page 54) fully outlines the grants and or loans to Toro, Rangai and Target 3D, including the procedures for managing conflicts of interest. If a conflict is registered for a trustee, they are not able to see any board reports or take part in trustee discussion or decision-making related to it.
    In signing off the financial statements, trustees were satisfied correct and proper procedures were followed. Both funding applications were supported as part of the trust’s strategic plan to develop the digital sector in Tairāwhiti and align with our wellbeing framework, He Rangitapu he Tohu Ora.
    The trust did not provide any funding for luxury cabins.

    1. Jason Ekerton says:

      How is this a success? Has it generated a revenue since opening? Who is the tutor for the course? If EIT pulls out of the partnership could it survive?

  2. Peter Millar says:

    Just a query on this. How does the conflict of interest mentioned get cleared with Mayor, CE or chair (in Dec 2019)? Because it was reported in The Gisborne Herald on Aug 21, 2020 that GDC had no conflict of interest policy nor formal enforcement policy.

    “Gisborne is the only regional council without a conflict of interest policy and one of two without a formal enforcement policy, the 2018/2019 Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement (CME) report by Local Government New Zealand reveals”.

    The report, released in February 2020, is the second of its kind.