About The Dead Lands TV series

The Dead Lands is an eight-part supernatural adventure that is set in a mythic Māori past. The series features a murdered Māori warrior, Waka Nuku Rau (Te Kohe Tuhaka), who’s sent back to the world of the living to redeem his sins. But the world Waka returns to is ravaged by a breach between life and the afterlife, as the spirits of the newly dead now stalk the land and hunt the living.

"The modern Māori world thrives because our story traditions insist we respect the past before we explore the potential of the future. With The Dead Lands, we’re proud to bring our people and those traditions to global audiences."

Producer, Tainui Stephens.

The Dead Lands TV series qualified for the New Zealand Screen Production Grant. It received a 40% cash grant. Find out more.

"If there’s one thing The Dead Lands does is put the spotlight on the necessity and absolute value of the SPG – NZFC Screen Production Grant. This is one of the most important projects of its type ever to be produced. It is truly ground-breaking."

Matthew Metcalfe

Fast Facts 

Broadcast in New Zealand on TVNZ On Demand and streamed exclusively on AMC Networks’Shudder in the US, Canada, Germany, UK and Ireland

The first New Zealand series commissioned directly by a US network, AMC Networks

One of the largest audiences ever found for a New Zealand TV series

100% of the production takes place in New Zealand

100% of the 39 cast were New Zealanders

100% of the 186 jobs were filled by New Zealanders

100% Māori/Pasifika cast

One third Māori crew

Use of Māori cultural disciplines of weaponry Mau Rakau

Shot on location in Auckland, such as Murphy’s Bush and Karekare

It was crucial that behind the camera, and across all aspects of the show, Māori held leadership and creative positions. As a starting fundamental, the Tikanga Māori of the show had to be right; had to infuse all aspects of the show from the most senior levels to the day players and casual crew. For this the production looked to producer, Tainui Stephens.

“When I was a young man I was an enthusiastic member of Māori cultural groups. I observed how our leaders guided us to be the best we could be. I know that tikanga, creativity and professionalism can go hand in hand. With a bold Māori story like this, there is no point in doing otherwise. To make the show as we did was a celebration of sharing in everyone's passion and talent” 

Tainui Stephens

 On and off set, Liz Adams, the show’s other producer, complemented this approach with ease. “This overarching importance of Tikanga Māori, joined with the best production experience led naturally to the choice of the first director on the show, who was really to be the birth-mother for the series. Peter Meteherangi Tikao Burger.”

“One of the proudest moments I had was finally making it to set and to find such a large contingent of the crew were Māori, and that was very much to do with the Tikanga Māori for the production, to do it right.” 

series co-creator Glenn Standring

 About the cast and crew

The Dead Lands series stars Te Kohe Tuhaka (Monster Problems) as “Waka Nuku Rau,” Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School senior Darneen Christian in her first television role as “Mehe Te Wehiwehi,” Kirk Torrance (Outrageous Fortune) as “Kā” and Vicky Haughton (Whale Rider, King Kong) as “Turika.” The series is written by Glenn Standring (6 Days) who also wrote the 2014 The Dead Lands feature film, which is set in the same mythical world as the series but is unconnected to its characters or story.

The series from production company GFC Films is executive produced by Glenn Standring, Fraser Brown and Matthew Metcalfe, produced by Tainui Stephens and Liz Adams, and directed by Peter Meteherangi Tikao Burger and Michael Hurst.

“I only discovered in my 20s that I had Māori ancestry through my grandmother, who had been born into a traditional Māori speaking world. So part of the pleasure for me creatively was to deep dive into Māori mythology, into her culture, and refashion it for modern audiences.” 

Glenn Standring


The Dead Lands TV Series Trailer

The Dead Lands series premieres on TVNZ On Demand and AMC Shudder on January 23 2020.