In the depths of Television New Zealand a new game show is underway, one with a distinctly Kiwi twist.
“Yes, this is a bilingual show,” says host Matai Smith as he caught up with Jordyn Rudd from TVNZ’s A Current Affair between filming episodes.
“I do a mihi or an introduction in te reo. I utilise a couple of kīwaha or colloquialisms or slang.”
The television and radio personality has done a plethora of shows and now he’s back in the television studio where it all began for the one telly genre left on his list, hosting the game show called 9 Lives.
"It was quite a poignant moment when I walked back and saw the amazing set because 9 Lives is also the studio where I learned to present and report," he says.
It's been nice to kind of return back to my tūrangawaewae, the place that nurtured me for those initial years of my broadcasting career."
As a champion of te reo, it's a key part of the show for Smith.
“I think it was hugely important. Te reo has been a huge part of my life.
Most people are surprised to hear that I'm a second language learner. I'm not a native speaker.
So when I was growing up in Gisborne in and around the marae, I would marvel at kaumātua, kuia speaking Te Reo Māori, my elders. And I always as a kid was fascinated by Te Reo Māori.
The problem with it was none of my parents or my aunties and uncles or grandparents spoke te reo. They were from that generation where it was frowned upon.”
His advice for those learning the language: “Part of learning Te Reo Māori are the three P's: Patience, perseverance and perspiration.”
So get your buzzers ready because this show will leave you yelling at the television, as well as picking up some new voacb.
“Oh, absolutely. It is going to be that show,” says Matai, “You are going to be screaming out the right answers, and even though they're not the right answers. We've all done that.”
Watch the full interview with Matai Smith on A Current Affair, Thursdays at 9pm on TV2.
Episodes are also available at OnDemand.