Story by Himiona Grace
CEO / Producer
East Coast boy Bailey Mackey had an interesting childhood. He was bought up by his grandparents in Kaiti, on the out skirts of Gisborne. They, like many were a product of the urban drift where rural people and communities moved to the towns and cities for employment and the prospect of a ‘better life’. Although Bailey describes his childhood as “pohara as” his grandparents made sure they didn’t lack the essentials in life. Stability, schooling and there was always food on the table. “I was instilled with Ngati Poroutanga but (going to school in Kaiti) meant I had also mixed and interacted with a lot of Pakeha kids and teachers so in that sense I ended up with a pretty balanced upbringing”. This was no doubt where Bailey’s competence in speaking both Maori and English came from. And his ‘Naati’ humour.
“There was a lot humour, [at home] and it was interesting too. My grandfather was a 28th Battalion veteran. He was a fencer and a shearer and was a grand nephew of Sir Apirana Ngata (National Party) He was a Tory with conservative politics. My grandmother was a sewing machinist and a pretty staunch unionist. And I’d get up in morning and they’d be arguing about politics all in Maori. Sometimes it was heated arguments but then they’d be laughing too. It was awesome”.
His fluency in both Maori and English wasn’t the only result of growing up in this environment.
When he attended Gisborne Boys High he committed himself to the Manu Korero speech competitions where he was very successful. His ability to stand and speak seemed to come naturally. It was around this time his passion for broadcasting was born. “I wanted to be a reporter for Te Karere or Wakahuia so I could visit all the marae around the country and talk to our kuia and koroua.”
But school wasn’t always great for Bailey. “To be honest, when I look back at my schooling I didn’t really fit in. I was smart enough and got in the top classes and the teachers told me I should I commit myself more. But I don’t think the school system catered for us. I’m a believer in passion and it’s something you can’t be taught [in school]. I had a passion for Manu Korero and was successful at it. After college I committed to rugby and played for East Coast/ Ngati Porou, was really passionate about it. Then in my twenties I committed to broadcasting, another passion [of mine]. I think we’re natural explorers and that’s one of my big things now. Don’t lose the explorer in you. We’re descendants of Maui and that’s who we are”. Of course he’s referring to Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga who was famously mischievous and a daring opportunist. Ngati Porou are descendants of Maui.
“If Maui was at school today he wouldn’t be sitting NCEA, he’d be out the back of the incinerator checking out the fire, or behind bike sheds”. [Laughs]
Bailey started his broadcasting career at Radio Ngati Porou in Ruatoria. He then went on the become a reporter for Te Karere (passion). He even had a short stint at writing for Shortland Street before becoming a reporter for TV3’s sports department. When he became Head of Sport for Maori TV another opportunity presented itself. “It was a bit of sea-change for me because I was no longer a sole trader or practitioner, I was a manager, strategist learning more of the production side of things”. This is where he learned the tricks of the trade needed to go it alone.
He went on to set up his own company which allowed him to work for any network in any genre of television programming. From sports to reality to drama. This broadened his skill set and provided more opportunities. After producing over 20 shows Bailey’s company Pango (www.pango.co.nz) have made the move into the film industry. A natural progression for someone with the talent, passion and an eye for opportunity.