Jessica Hansell (aka Coco Solid) has many strings to her creative bow — artist, musician, writer, director and actor. The Aucklander is the creator of comic and animated series Aroha Bridge, a writer on Wellington Paranormal and a globetrotting rapper. The part Māori, Samoan and German creative has also acted in episodes of Aroha Bridge, which follows a suburban hip hop band. Along with Carthew Neal, she directed 2014 documentary Heaven's Gate, about transgender Pacific culture in South Auckland. In 2018 Hansell was awarded the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer's Residency in Hawaii.
Producer Julia Parnell’s CV boasts a diverse range of credits — from comedy (Wayne Anderson: Singer of Songs) to sport (Wilbur: The King in the Ring), music (The Chills - The Triumph & Tragedy of Martin Phillipps) and te ao Māori (Restoring Hope). Parnell’s production company Notable Pictures is behind a run of award-winning short films (Dive, Friday Tigers), plus long-running mini-documentary series Loading Docs.
Billy T James ranks as a key figure in the development of Kiwi comedy. Billy honed his talents as a singer and comedian on stages worldwide, then brought them to a local TV audience on throwback show Radio Times. His self-titled comedy show was a major ratings hit. His turn as the Tainuia kid in Came a Hot Friday is still fondly remembered — as is Billy T's infectious chuckle, black singlet and yellow towel.
Legendary sports broadcaster Keith Quinn has come to be known as the voice of All Black test rugby in New Zealand. He has worked on countless All Black tours, and covered every Rugby World Cup since they began. Quinn worked for the NZBC/TVNZ for four decades, as both presenter and commentator. Aside from rugby, he has covered seven Olympic Games, ten Commonwealth Games, and three Paralympics.
Alongside his brother Jeff, Phill Simmonds has created a run of quirky short films, which utilise traditional animation to retell real-life stories. The films from the SPADA 2006 New Filmmaker of the Year (shared with Jeff) include family history tale A Very Nice Honeymoon and bickering band chronicle The Paselode Story. His latest project is an animated feature film based on Parihaka.
Clive Cockburn has composed music for a host of Kiwi television shows, and the occasional movie. Since devoting himself to soundtrack work in the early 80s, Cockburn has provided sounds for iconic programmes from Wild South and Country Calendar, to the theme for the TV One news.
Director and editor Lala Rolls has made short films, music videos and documentaries (Tupaia's Endeavour, Children of the Migration). She has gone on location throughout the Pacific Islands, and had her work invited to festivals in New Zealand and overseas.
Nancy Brunning was on the staff of Shortland Street for the first episode in 1992. In 1999 she stole the screen as a young gang girl in Once Were Warriors sequel What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? She won a second NZ screen award for drama Ngā Tohu: Signatures, and played the family matriarch in 2016 film Mahana. Brunning died in November 2019, shortly before winning Aotearoa's top playwriting award.
A pioneer of New Zealand film and star of 1940 classic Rewi's Last Stand, Ramai Hayward is credited as Aotearoa’s first Māori filmmaker, camerawoman, and scriptwriter. At the 2005 Wairoa Māori Film Festival she received the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to Māori filmmaking; the following year Hayward was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit. She passed away on 3 July 2014.
Keisha Castle-Hughes found fame at 12, when Whale Rider became an international hit. Her debut performance as spirited Māori girl Pai scored an Oscar nomination. She followed a variety of international roles with local success, including TV show The Almighty Johnsons and acclaim and a Qantas award for telemovie Piece of My Heart. In 2015 she joined the cast of hit series Game of Thrones.