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Profile image for Peter Young

Peter Young

Director, Cinematographer

Peter Young’s first job in the screen world was as a trainee director at TVNZ's Natural History Unit in Dunedin. Between leaving school and starting in televison, Young had spent a decade mustering, shearing, fishing and fencing. His interest in the land and the people who work on it is clear in both the images he has captured for shows like Country Calendar and Here to Stay, and the programmes he has gone on to create.

After a couple of years at the Natural History Unit, Young moved to Dunedin production house Taylormade, where he worked on award-winning children's programme N to Z. Drawn increasingly to camera work, he began a four-year stint as a news and current affairs cameraman at TV3. During this period he moved to Christchurch; in 1997 he formed company Fisheye Films.

Since then Young has shot material for TVNZ — his work on 50 plus episodes of Country Calendar has resulted in a score of awards — plus the BBC, Discovery Channel and Natural History New Zealand. He has shot travel shows, arts shows (including Young-directed Artsville piece Sand Man), commercials, and music videos (The Phoenix Foundation's 'Let Me Die a Woman', Op Shop’s ‘Nothing Can Wait’). Young has also built up a large collection of HD stock footage, which is available to buy online.

Young worked on a number of documentaries about the mysterious giant squid; he directed 2001 NZ TV Award nominee Chasing Giants: On the Trail of the Giant Squid for the Discovery Channel. After going on location for adventure shows Get Real and Africa Overland, he set about creating some shows of his own.

In 2006 Young launched the first of three seasons of travel and food series Hunger for the Wild. Young shot and directed every episode. The popular show saw Kiwi chefs Steve Logan and Al Brown setting off in an 1964 EH Holden to chase down freshly caught and cooked Kiwi cuisine. Hunger for the Wild scored awards for best series in its category at the 2007 New Zealand Screen Awards, and the 2009 Qantas Awards.

Coasters played in 2011 in a 7pm Saturday slot. Young — again wearing the triple hats of director, cameraman and producer (alongside his partner Tracey Roe) — followed Brown as he encountered the people and sights of the Kiwi coastline. The ever-busy Young also authored a spin-off Coasters book. Ten-episode series Get Fresh with Al Brown, which debuted later the same year, saw Brown producing a series of meals aimed at capturing the quintessential flavours of each Kiwi region.

Four years in the making, feature-length documentary The Last Ocean began stacking up the first of 14 awards in 2013. Waikato Times veteran Sam Edwards described it as "absorbing, politically and ecologically informative, nightmarish" cinema. The film was made as part of Young's campaign to protect the Ross Sea in the Antarctic; he had co-founded non-profit organisation the Last Ocean Charitable Trust as part of a seven-year effort to raise awareness of "the last large near-pristine marine ecosystem on Earth". The Ross Sea region Marine Protected Area came into effect in 2017. 

Young was also behind documentary The Art of Recovery (2015), which chronicled community-led arts activities in Christchurch after the 2011 quakes. Appropriately the film was the first to premiere at the city's Isaac Theatre Royal, following repairs (at the 2015 NZ International Film Festival). It won awards at design festivals in Los Angeles and Sweden. In a four star review, Stuff's James Croot called it "a fine celebration and deserved documenting of some truly innovative individual thinking that we hope will continue to flourish".

Young went on to make Fight for the Wild (2021), a four-part series and podcast about the battle to save New Zealand's native species by making the country predator free.

Profile updated on 29 October 2021

Sources include
Peter Young
Fisheye Films website. Accessed 29 October 2021
Peter Young website (broken link). Accessed 25 November 2015
James Croot, 'Review: The Art of Recovery'. Stuff website. Loaded 3 September 2015. Accessed 29 October 2021
Sam Edwards, 'The Nightmare Impact of Uncontrolled Fishing' (Review of The Last Ocean) - The Waikato Times, 8 September 2012