Best known to the public for an extended career as an actor — he co-starred in Mortimer's Patch and won an award playing a dopey farmer in comedy Willy Nilly — Sean Duffy alternated acting gigs with two decades editing for television. Later he moved into directing, working on a range of shows from Heartland to one-off documentaries.

It was amazing how easy it was, to be honest. That's because I'd spent 18 years on and off in a dark room, looking at other people's mistakes. So I knew exactly what I needed to do. Sean Duffy, on making the transition from editing to directing

Utu Redux

2013, As: Corporal Jones - Film

In 1983, director Geoff Murphy stormed out of the scrub of the nascent Kiwi film industry with a quadruple-barreled shotgun take on the great NZ colonial epic. Set during the New Zealand wars, this tale of a Māori leader (Anzac Wallace) and his bloody path to redress 'imbalance' became the second NZ film officially selected for Cannes, the second biggest local hit to that date (after Goodbye Pork Pie). A producer-driven recut was later shown in the US. This 2013 redux offers Utu “enhanced and restored”.


50 Years of New Zealand Television - Episode One

2010, Subject - Television

This is the opening episode of the Prime TV series celebrating 50 years of New Zealand television: from an opening night puppet show in Auckland in 1960, through to Outrageous Fortune five decades later. It traverses the medium's development and its major turning points (including the rise of programme-making and news, networking, colour and the arrival of TV3, Prime, NZ on Air, Sky and Māori Television) and interviews key players. The changing nature of the NZ living room — always with the telly in pride of place as modern hearth — is a story within a story.


Life's a Riot

2008, As: Freeman


Truth Files

2006, Director


Orange Roughies

2006 - 2007, As: Paul Grayson - Television

Orange Roughies was a 'border security' drama series following a Police and Customs task force led by Danny Wilder (Australian actor Nicholas Coughan). Made for TV ONE, the ScreenWorks production was a Kiwi attempt at the Aussie water police procedural, with the action transferred from Sydney to Auckland Harbour and CBD. Storylines included drugs busts, child trafficking, undercover ops and plenty of land-sea motorised chase action. Created by Scott McJorrow and Rod Johns, the script team was rounded out by Kristen Warner and series writer Greg McGee.


Locked Down

2005, Director, Narrator


Grass Roots Business

2003, Director


Police Ten 7

2002 - 2005, Director - Television

Taking its name from police code for "a unit has arrived at the job", Police Ten 7 is a long running TV2 show which adds elements of reality TV to the crime-fighting model pioneered by the BBC's Crimewatch (which ran on TVNZ from 1987 to 1995). Made in conjunction with the NZ Police, and fronted until 2014 by retired Detective Inspector Graham Bell, the series profiles wanted criminals, asks for public help to solve crimes, and features behind the scenes policing stories. It achieved international fame after the "blow on the pie" incident. Sergeant Rob Lemoto began presenting in September 2015.


The Tamaki Brothers in Hog Heaven

2002, Director, Camera


The Big Art Trip - Series One, Episode 13

2001, Director - Television

The final episode in Series One of The Big Art Trip starts in Dunedin. Hosts Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins and Nick Ward explore found art and ceramic sculptures with artist Jim Cooper and visit jewellery artists Ann Culy and Rainer Beneke, before heading to the Kaka Point home of poet Hone Tuwhare (where he lived until his death in 2008). They head to Invercargill to meet classical singer Deborah Wai Kapohe, who takes them op-shopping and performs her original folk songs. Last stop is Cosy Nook in Southland where they meet painter Nigel Brown.


The Big Art Trip - Series One, Episode Seven

2001, Director - Television

The Big Art Trip hosts Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins and Nick Ward start this leg of the journey in Palmerston North, where they meet Centrepoint Theatre artistic director and actor Alison Quigan and sculptor Robert Jahnke. Next it's Wellington, and a chat about the bucket fountain in Cuba Mall, before they visit painter Marianne Muggeridge and drop in on Circa Theatre co-founder and actor Grant Tilly, who shares his secret passion for box making. They finish up with theatre-centric band Cloudboy, who discuss their music and their move from Dunedin to Wellington.


The Big Art Trip - Series One, Episode Five

2001, Director, Camera, DV Operator - Television

Central North Island art is spotlighted in this episode of the road trip arts show. Douglas Lloyd Jenkins and Nick Ward discuss Len Lye's 'Wind Wand' and visit Michael Smither works in a Catholic church. Novelist Shonagh Koea reads in her favourite antique shop while photographer Sarah Sampson serves tea and discusses her fabric work and "chick art". Rangi and Julie Kipa reconcile traditional Maori process with modern art, performance artists Matt and Stark deconstruct the family sedan; and, in Wanganui, Ross Mitchell-Anyon is proud to call himself a potter.


The Big Art Trip - Series One, Episode Eight

2001, Director, Camera, DV Operator - Television

Douglas Lloyd Jenkins and Nick Ward's arts road trip reaches Wellington where Jacob Rajan and Justin Lewis of Indian Ink Theatre Company discuss their acclaimed play 'Krishnan's Dairy'. Dancer Ross McCormack reflects on his journey from building site to dance school; and percussion group Strike incorporate movement and staging into their work. Ceramic artist Raewyn Atkinson is exploring the textures of Antarctica and there's a visit to the Dowse Art Museum to meet jeweller Peter Deckers and to view an exhibition of textile designer Avis Higgs' work.


Willy Nilly (TV Series)

2001 - 2003, As: Eric


Wild about New Zealand

2000 - 2001, Director


McCormick Rips

2000, Director


The Day Morris Left

1999, As: Hugh - Short Film

This Dan Salmon-directed short is about three barbers and the search to replace Morris (Rawiri Paratene), who wants to become a professional dancer. Morris dreams of "bigger mirrors" with "lights around them instead of hair dryers" while the old boys’ club of barbers banter about the past, each telling a personal story as they discuss Morris's impending departure. But the search for a replacement barber is fruitless. "You can't even advertise for a man for a bloody barbers" complains one. Meanwhile local mother Joanne (Pip Hall) dares to apply for the job.


Firth Ground Force

1998 - 2000, Director


Willy Nilly

1998, As: Eric - Short Film

This bawdy backblocks comedy follows the efforts of a couple of middle-aged siblings to adjust to life after the death of Mother (Dorothy McKegg). The brothers dim (Mark Hadlow, Sean Duffy) are lost without Mum's cooking and her advice on Judy Bailey’s attractiveness and getting too close to goats … until the hired help (Alison Bruce) arrives. The short film was the first production of Big House, a collaboration between director Mike Smith and editor John Gilbert. Invited to the revered Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival in 1999, it inspired a hit TV series of the same name.


Tiger Country

1998, As: Sergeant 'Horse' Radisich


Black Spots, White Crosses

1998, Director


The Chosen

1998, As: Jim Gordon



1997 - 1998, Director


Fresh Up In The Deep End

1997 - 1998, Director


Heartland - Reefton

1996, Director - Television

Heartland host Gary McCormick visits the West Coast mining town of Reefton. He takes an early morning trip down Surprise Mine, getting an insight into the tough life of a coal miner. He also meets the miners' wives, who talk about the perils of trying to wash ingrained coal dirt out of clothes, and living with men who are frequently injured in the course of their work. McCormick also attends the First Light Festival, held to mark the fact that Reefton was the first town in the southern hemisphere to have electric lighting.


Heartland - Lyttelton

1996, Director - Television

In this Heartland edition Gary McCormick heads south to the port town of Lyttelton, where some say you can't claim to be local unless you've been in town all your life. There he looks around a freighter and finds time to talk to a smorgasboard of passionate locals, some of whom wish yuppies from Christchurch would stay home. He visits ex-Seaman's Union President Bill 'Pincher' Martin, who recalls the tense days of the 1951 lockout. Meanwhile cameraman Matt Bowkett captures some evocative footage from the surrounding hills, and among the action of a busy port.



1995, As: Detective LP Pitt


The Neighbourhood Network

1994, As: Stanley Events, Creator


Heartland - Wainuiomata

1994, Director - Television

This show was possibly the most controversial edition of the Heartland series. After an obligatory historical preamble, explaining the state house roots of this working class dormitory suburb, Gary hits the rugby league club, local homes and Tupperware parties for some seriously extra-terrestrial encounters with Wainui-o-Martians. Chloe Reeves, with her squeaking voice, romantic dreams, and tiger slippers, proved to be unforgettable and became a national figure. In the second clip future All Black Piri Weepu holds a school road safety lollipop (around 6.40).


Moonrise (aka Grampire)

1992, As: Derek - Film

While visiting family down under, American teen Lonny catches up with his grandfather, a man with an infectious giggle, a thirst for adventure — and two vampire-sized incisors. Released locally as Grampire, this family-friendly adventure combines local names (among them future Pluto singer Milan Borich) with a winning turn as nice guy vampire by American Al Lewis (cult series The Munsters). Director David Blyth was won over by Michael Heath’s script because it reversed convention, and “was a plea for children to be allowed to keep and develop their imaginations”.



1991 - 1996, Director - Television

Heartland was a long-running series where, in each episode, affable presenter Gary McCormick explored a Kiwi community. Location and local legend are relayed as McCormick (or occasionally Annie Whittle, Maggie Barry, or Kerre McIvor) interacts with the natives, most famously, tiger slipper-shod Chloe of Wainuiomata. The popular, award-winning series, was inspired by a collaboration — Raglan by the Sea — between McCormick and director Bruce Morrison; it connected mostly-urban Kiwis with faraway corners of the country, and a homely sense of shared identity.


The Champion - Yankee Soldier

1989, As: George Perry - Television

Writer Maurice Gee’s experiences growing up in West Auckland during World War II were the basis for this home front drama expertly realised by the producer/director team of Ginette McDonald and Peter Sharp. Twelve-year-old Rex Pascoe (Milan Borich — future singer in the band Pluto) is a war-obsessed schoolboy worried about his father’s black-market dealings. Meanwhile, American soldiers are making their presence felt but not all of their attitudes are welcome. The locals’ prejudices are about to be tested by the arrival of a GI to stay with Rex’s family.


A Current Affair

1989 - 1996, Associate Producer, Field Director


Tagata Pasifika

1987 - ongoing, Editor - Television

Tagata Pasifika is an english language magazine-style show with news, profiles and interviews focusing on Pacific Island communities in New Zealand. The TVNZ show features coverage of Pacific Island cultural events like the annual Pasifika festival, along with longer documentaries. It is the only show focusing on PIs on mainstream New Zealand television. Debuting on 4 April 1987, Tagata Pasifika celebrated 25 years on air in 2012. Stephen Stehlin is the show's longtime producer.


Terry and the Gunrunners - (5) Episode Five

1985, As: Curly - Television

In this episode of the 80s kid’s TV drama, matters are coming to a head. Terry Teo and brother Ted and sister Polly, criminal mastermind Ray Vegas and his henchmen Blue and Curly, government agents Thompson and Crouch, the bikies and the local policeman continue to chase each other around rural Kaupati. What Thompson and Crouch lack in intelligence, they make up for in costume changes; and Spud (Billy T James) is now quoting Byron to his bikies. The constable is dimmer than first suspected — but old salt Captain Shaddock’s aim is true.


Terry and the Gunrunners - (6) Episode Six

1985, As: Curly - Television

The series finale in this 80s children’s drama begins with hero Terry Teo once again in the clutches of the evil Ray Vegas and sidekicks Blue and Curly. While Terry is held hostage by the gang, local cop Sergeant Wadsworth calls for back up — but reinforcements seem to have come from Keystone rather than HQ. Blue reveals an unexpected facility with heavy weaponry and humanity in amongst the pyrotechnics, but will the forces of good, and Polly’s karate skills and commonsense, be enough to get the Teo siblings back home for mum’s roast dinner?


Terry and the Gunrunners - (3) Episode Three

1985, As: Curly - Television

In this episode of the larger-than-life kids' drama series, action moves to the punningly named town of Kaupati where crime boss Ray Vegas and sidekicks Curly and Blue are expecting a weapons delivery (in well labelled cardboard cartons). They’ve also abducted Terry Teo after he stumbled on their cunning plan. Meanwhile, Terry’s sister and brother are in pursuit, Thompson and Crouch are looking highly conspicuous in their quest for stealth, the bikies are discussing Hegel — and the Kaupati cop could be the dimmest bulb in the chandelier so far.


Terry and the Gunrunners - (4) Episode Four

1985, As: Curly - Television

In this episode of the beloved 80s kids’ drama, hero Terry Teo has escaped from evil criminal mastermind Ray Vegas. All roads lead to a lovingly realised Kaupati A&P Show (with cameo from radio personality Merv Smith) as Vegas’ henchmen Curly and Blue, Terry’s brother and sister, and Thompson and Crouch pursue him. Curly still has the best outfit and manages to trash another motorcycle — but the bikies are too busy discussing philosophy. Meanwhile, Thompson and Crouch are revealed as government agents (with a cavalier approach to spending taxpayers’ money).


Terry and the Gunrunners - (2) Episode Two

1985, As: Curly - Television

In this episode of the kids’ adventure series, 12 year old Terry Teo has stumbled on a gunrunning operation. The baddies — boss Ray Vegas and villainous sidekicks Curly and Blue — are hunting for him; and Terry’s brother and sister are doing their best to help, ending up in Kaupati in the most Kiwi holiday park ever. Meanwhile, more information emerges about the mysterious, but dim, Thompson and Crouch as they report to their boss (none other than real life former PM Sir Robert Muldoon) and Billy T James is turning out to be a very cultured bikie.


Terry and the Gunrunners - (1) First Episode

1985, As: Curly - Television

This first episode from the kidult series pits 12 year old Terry Teo, sister Polly and brother Ted against a gang of gunrunners led by crime boss Ray Vegas (former Goon Michael Bentine) after Terry skates down the wrong driveway and stumbles on the crims and their illegal arsenal. Terry was fondly remembered by Kiwi kids who grew up in the 80s. Taking cues from the Stephen Ballantyne and Bob Kerr comic it was based on, there are Batman-esque graphics and arcade game style animated sequences. Sean Duffy’s bald villain is called Curly and the bikie is Billy T.


Country GP

1984 - 1985, Actor - Television

Country GP was a major 80s drama series that charted the post-war years 1945 to 1950 in a rural central South Island town. Using fast-turnaround techniques that anticipated later series like Shortland Street, 66 episodes of Country GP were shot in 18 months at a specially built set in Whiteman’s Valley, Lower Hutt. It was groundbreaking as the first NZ series to cast a Samoan in a title role (Lani Tupu as Dr David Miller); but it also provided a nostalgic look back to an apparently kinder, gentler time than mid-80s New Zealand with its major social reforms and upheavals.



1984, As: Constable Dave Gilchrist



1983, As: Corporal Jones - Film

It's the 1870s, and Māori leader Te Wheke (Anzac Wallace) is fed up by brutal land grabs. He leads a bloody rebellion against the colonial Government, provoking threatened frontiersmen, disgruntled natives, lusty wahine, bible-bashing priests, and kupapa alike to consider the nature of ‘utu’ (retribution). Legendary New Yorker critic Pauline Kael raved about Geoff Murphy’s ambitious follow up to Goodbye Pork Pie: “[He] has an instinct for popular entertainment. He has a deracinated kind of hip lyricism. And they fuse quite miraculously in this epic ...”


Both Sides of the Fence

1982 - 1985, Actor


Eyewitness News

1982 - 1989, Editor - Television

The nightly Eyewitness News debuted in 1982 having evolved out of TV2’s twice weekly current affairs show of the same name. Screening at 9.30pm, it moved to TV One before being axed in 1990 in favour of a later One News bulletin. Two of the key moments in the political turmoil of 1984 played out in front of its cameras — PM Robert Muldoon’s calling of the snap election and his devaluation interview which sparked an economic and constitutional crisis. Reporter Rod Vaughan also received his infamous bloody nose from Bob Jones while on an Eyewitness story.


Koha - Hone Tuwhare

1981, Editor - Television

This 1981 Koha documentary, 'No Ordinary Bloke' — poet Hone Tuwhare — reflects on his life and influences in a wide-ranging interview by Selwyn Muru. He recites poems and is shown walking around his Dunedin haunts, where he was living at the time. Tuwhare recounts his early life as a railway workshop apprentice and tells of the workshop library that opened his eyes to the world. Later he’s shown with mate and artist Ralph Hotere and discusses, with emotion, the nature of Māori relationships with the land in light of the then-proposed Aramoana aluminium smelter.


Smash Palace

1981, As: Frank - Film

Smash Palace is a Kiwi cinema classic and launched Roger Donaldson's American career. Al Shaw (a brilliant, brooding Bruno Lawrence) is a racing car driver who now runs a wrecker's yard in the shadow of Mount Ruapehu. His French wife Jacqui is unhappy there and leaves him, taking up with Al's best mate. When she restricts Al's access to his young daughter, his frustration explodes and he goes bush with the girl, desperate not to lose her too. "There's no road back" runs the tagline. New Yorker critic Pauline Kael called the film "amazingly accomplished".


Close Up

1981 - 1987, Editor - Television

80s show Close Up had a similar brief to earlier current affairs show Compass: to present mini-documentaries on topical local issues. Stories in the primetime hour-long slot were wide-ranging, from hard news to human interest pieces, including a profile of 25-year-old foreign exchange dealer, future-Prime Minister, John Key. The show won Feltex Awards for most of the years that it was on air. Close Up is not related to the post-nightly news show of the same name, which was hosted by Mark Sainsbury until 2012.


Mortimer's Patch - Day of Judgement

1980, As: Constable Dave Gilchrist - Television

Mortimer’s Patch was a highly popular detective series following Detective Sergeant Doug Mortimer (Terence Cooper) and his policing adventures in the small town of Cobham. Mortimer plays a city cop returning to his rural roots. In this Keith Aberdein-scripted episode a girl, Judy Savage (Smash Palace’s Greer Robson), goes missing in sand dunes near the shack of an eccentric recluse. Fear and suspicion mounts and Mortimer brings in help from the city: prejudiced detective, Chris Knight (Ken Blackburn). Don Selwyn plays Sergeant Bob Storey.


Sea Urchins

1980 - 1984, As: Lieutenant McBride - Television

This TVNZ kidult drama is a saltwater Swallows and Amazons, where the plucky "urchins" stumble upon villainous plots (from missing treasure to wildlife smuggling) on their seaside adventures. Over three series, locations like Mahurangi Peninsula in the Hauraki Gulf — where the youngsters holidayed with their uncle — and the Marlborough Sounds allowed for much floatplane, launch and navy frigate chase action. The cast included an array of experienced talent and featured a young Rebecca Gibney (the Packed to Rafter’s star’s first major TV role) and Robert Rakete.



1981 - 1987, Editor - Television

Regular Māori programmes started on Television New Zealand in 1980 with Koha, a weekly, 30-min programme broadcast in English. It explored everything from social problems, tribal history, natural history, about weaponry, to the preparation of food, canoe history, carvings and their meanings, language and how it changed through time. It was a window into te ao Māori for Pākekā, and it provided a link to urban Māori estranged from their culture. It was the first regular Māori programme which was shown in prime time. 


Mortimer's Patch

1980 - 1984, As: Constable Dave Gilchrist - Television

Mortimer’s Patch was a popular detective series following Detective Sergeant Doug Mortimer (Terence Cooper) and his policing adventures in the small town of Cobham. Mortimer plays a city cop returning to his rural roots. The series was NZ’s first police drama and was the most successful drama of the early 80s (it was a rare local show to top ratings). The series was made when the archetype of the ‘community cop’ everyone knew was still a powerful one, and it was a counterweight to the faceless riot policing of the Springbok Tour. Three series were made.


Sons for the Return Home

1979, As: Sarah's first lover - Film

Sons for the Return Home tells the story of a Romeo and Juliet romance between students Sione, a NZ-raised Samoan, and Sarah, a middle class palagi. Director Paul Maunder shifts between time and setting (London, Wellington, Samoa) in adapting Albert Wendt's landmark 1973 novel. Sons was the first feature film attentive to Samoan experience in NZ — alongside themes of identity, racism and social and sexual consciousness. In this excerpt Sione meets Sarah's parents, and his tin'a has him scrubbing their Newtown pavement prior to Sarah's reciprocal visit.



1976 - 1989, Editor - Television

Kaleidoscope was a magazine-style arts series which ran from 30 July 1976 until 1989. Running for many years in a 90 minute format, the show tried varied approaches over its run, from an initial mix of local and international items — including live performances — to episodes which focused on a single artist or topic. In the early 80s Kaleidoscope collected three Feltex awards for Speciality Programme. Hosts over the years included initial presenter Jeremy Payne, newsreader Angela D'Audney, future Auckland music professor Heath Lees, and Warratahs fiddler Nic Brown.



1976, Actor - Television

In Moynihan, secretary of the carpenters’ union Leo Moynihan (Ian Mune) — with orange mini and leather jacket — has to navigate the shark-infested waters of 70s industrial relations. The first NZ-Australia co-production (with ABC) was devised by union organiser Earle Spencer and Jane Galletly (a rare credit in the then-male dominated industry). It was the first series made by TV One’s drama department; it won viewers as well as Feltex awards for best drama and Mune’s performance. The changing face of Wellington, including an under-construction Beehive, features.


TV One News

1975 - 1988, Editor - Television

In 1975 TV One launched with a flagship 6.30 news bulletin which went largely unchanged with the move to TVNZ in 1980. In a 1987 revamp, it became the Network News with dual newsreaders Judy Bailey and Neil Billington (replaced by Richard Long). In 1988, the half hour programme moved to 6pm. With the advent of TV3 in late 1989, it was rebranded One Network News; and, from 1995, extended to an hour. The ill-fated replacing of Long with John Hawkesby in 1999 saw it make headlines rather than report them. In 1999, there was another name change to One News.



1970 - 1972, Editor - Television

In the one channel days of the early 70s, the Survey slot was the place to find local documentaries. Topics ranged across the board, from social issues (alcoholism, runaway children) to the potentially humdrum (an AGM meeting) to the surprisingly experimental (an awardwinning doco about service clubs). After extended campaigning by John O’Shea, a number of emerging independent filmmakers, including Tony Williams and Roger Donaldson, joined the party, bringing fresh creativity and new techniques to the traditional narration-heavy, gently-paced doco format.

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