The late Hone Tūwhare (1922-2008) remains one of New Zealand's most loved and respected poets. Tūwhare has been the subject of numerous documentaries. He also wrote short stories and plays, and the drama Eel for anthology television series E Tipu e Rea. Tuwhare died on 16 January 2008 in Dunedin.
Anzac Wallace made one of the most memorable debuts in New Zealand cinema when he starred as avenging guerilla leader Te Wheke in classic Māori Western Utu. The former trade union delegate followed it with movies The Silent One (1984) and Mauri (1988) and pioneering Māori TV series E Tipu E Rea. He passed away on 8 April 2019.
Veteran animator Euan Frizzell brought his artist's hands to almost every form of the genre, from traditional cartoons to stop motion to computer generated animation. Along the way, he animated stories by local legends Margaret Mahy and Lynley Dodd, and directed and animated for Bugs Bunny, Road Runner and Fred Flintstone. Frizzell died on 23 September 2012.
John Anderson got busy directing a run of television dramas in the 1980s, including award-winning Polynesian road movie Mark ll, and two of the final works by playwright Bruce Mason. The onetime actor reinvented himself as a documentary filmmaker in the 90s, then relocated to Kiribati, where he worked on more than 400 films covering everything from climate change to dance. Anderson died in Kiribati on 19 August 2016.
Manurewa-bred Kiel McNaughton followed stunt work and study at Unitec with a five year stint playing beloved Shortland Street nurse James 'Scotty' Scott. Alongside his wife Kerry Warkia, he founded Brown Sugar Apple Grunt Productions in 2006, where he has directed shows Fine Me a Māori Bride, This is Piki, and Nia’s Extra Ordinary Life, New Zealand’s first web series for kids. McNaughton and Warkia went on to produce anthology movies Waru and Vai, which was shot across the Pacific. In April 2019 production began on McNaughton's debut feature as director: action movie The Legend of Baron To'a.
Following small parts on television, Peter Kaa won a trio of choice screen roles: an episode of breakthrough Māori drama series E Tipu e Rea (1989), sketch comedy show Away Laughing, and a central role in Barry Barclay's second feature, Te Rua. Kaa played a poet and activist fighting to return Māori carvings from a German museum. Four years later he got another big role in mini-series Savage Play, as a member of the New Zealand Natives rugby team which toured Great Britain in 1988. Kaa went on to direct plays for Māori theatre company Taki Rua, and act in Shortland Street and anthology series Mataku.
Lamenting a lack of good roles for Asian women, Chinese Kiwi JJ Fong teamed up with fellow actors Ally Xue and Perlina Lau and director Roseanne Liang. The result was comical web series Flat3. Fong played aspiring actor Jessica, whose life is overly dictated by her libido. After three seasons, the quartet began on follow-up web series Friday Night Bites, and short film Sugar Hit (part of anthology series K’ Rd Stories). JJ Fong originally studied dance, which led her to musical theatre and acting. Her screen CV also includes web series ADK, TV's Go Girls and Shortland Street, and a memorably bitchy part on Step Dave.
Owen Hughes segued directly from university to a job at independent production company Pacific Films. Since establishing his own company Frame Up Films in 1977, Hughes has gone on to produce 40 plus documentaries and many dramas. Along the way he has nurtured the talents of a number of directors early in their careers, including Niki Caro, Fiona Samuel and Jessica Hobbs.
Robin Laing began her long career as a producer with 1985's Mr Wrong, the first of many projects she has worked on with director Gaylene Preston. In 1993 Laing was awarded a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the New Zealand film industry.
Dwayne Cameron got his screen break as a teen with an ongoing role on science fiction hit The Tribe. Since then he has co-starred in horror movie The Locals, acted on television shows Street Legal, Mercy Peak, and Agent Anna, and directed a number of short films. In 2017 he played race car legend Bruce McLaren in Roger Donaldson docudrama McLaren, and join Nicolas Cage in bank heist drama #211.