Paul Horan co-founded the NZ Comedy Festival and The Classic Comedy Bar, kickstarting a vital Auckland comedy scene — and his own successful trans-Tasman TV career. His credits include The Topp Twins, Super City, and Australia's Rove Live. After helping develop prime time formats like The Project, his company Slightly Uncomfortable Productions has specialised in hybrid news comedy shows.
Journalist Mark Jennings joined new channel TV3 in 1989, to set up its South Island news operation. After becoming TV3's news chief in 1995, he won wide respect as a calm hand, competing against TVNZ's bigger budgets and arguing that news presenters ought to have journalism experience. By the time his resignation was announced in 2016, Jennings had become one of the longest serving heads of news in NZ TV history.
Gaylene Preston has been making feature films and documentaries with a distinctive New Zealand flavour and a strong social message for over 30 years. In 2001 she was the first filmmaker to be made a Laureate by the Arts Foundation, recognising her contribution to New Zealand film and television.
John Keir began his career as a TV reporter, and from the late 70s on was producing and directing an extended slate of documentaries. His CV includes docos about air crashes (Flight 901: The Erebus Disaster), war (Our Oldest Soldier), gender (Intersexion) crime (First Time in Prison) and the Treaty (Lost in Translation). His many collaborations with director Grant Lahood include two short films that won acclaim at Cannes.
Kiwi-born Samoan Nathaniel Lees began acting on stage in 1975, and on screen in 1984. Since then he has become a leading force in the development of Pacific Island theatre in Aotearoa, and brought his distinctive baritone voice to everything from The Billy T James Show to The Matrix.
For more than 20 years, Haunui Royal has been driven by the desire to be part of a vibrant Māori voice in broadcasting. The director turned executive got his break at TVNZ in 1988, before directing everything from a long line of documentaries (The Truth about Māori), to entertainment (Havoc and Newsboy's Sellout Tour). Later he spent seven years as General Manager of Programming at Māori Television.
Stephen Stehlin has been involved with flagship Pacific show Tagata Pasifika for over 30 years. Alongside Ngaire Fuata and John Utanga, he launched SunPix in 2015. The company took over Tagata Pasifika after Television New Zealand outsourced its stable of Māori and Pacific programmes. Of Samoan descent, Stehlin has been honoured as both a Samoan matai chief, and as a Member of the NZ Order of Merit.
Writer Rachel Lang, MNZM, has played a major hand in a host of New Zealand television dramas, including Outrageous Fortune, the iconic saga of a West Auckland family trying to go straight. Her CV also includes the long-running Go Girls, small town dramas Jackson's Wharf and Mercy Peak, plus Westside, The Almighty Johnsons, This is Not My Life, Filthy Rich and The Blue Rose.
Radio writer turned TV3 weather presenter Belinda Todd went on to win infamy and a cult following, as the boundary pushing co-host of late night show Nightline. Todd has also written and produced documentaries, and starred as a caring career woman in Melody Rules, a comedy series which has its share of detractors.
The trio of documentaries surrounding the religious community of Gloriavale generated huge TV ratings. Amanda Evans is the director and producer behind this mini-TV phenomenon. In her 30 year career she has produced and/ or directed documentaries, reality series and iconic Kiwi kids and arts shows.