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.
Shimpal Lelisi is an award winning actor, writer and presenter. He is well known for his work with comedy group, The Naked Samoans, appearing in hit movie Sione's Wedding, and writing for animated TV comedy bro’Town where he also voiced the character Valea.
Kiwi-Samoan Robbie Magasiva was performing in a primary school talent quest when he fell in love with acting. At age 16 he made his first screen appearance, playing a police cadet in a TV commercial. Since then Magasiva has honed his skills in television (Aussie series Wentworth, Shortland Street, The Semisis), film (Stickmen and Sione's Wedding) and stage (comedy group The Naked Samoans).
An iconoclast with a bent for experimentation, director Paul Maunder brought the mixed flavours of social realism and the arthouse to New Zealand screens in the 1960s and 70s, before shifting stages and leaving the government's National Film Unit, to concentrate on theatre. His second feature Sons for the Return Home (1979) as the first film to dramatise the experience of Pacific Islanders living in contemporary New Zealand.
Rowley Habib — also known as Rore Hapipi — was one of the first writers to bring a genuinely Māori perspective to New Zealand stage and screen. His play Death of the Land is seen as a landmark in the development of Māori theatre. In 1983 Habib won a Feltex Award for land rights drama The Protestors, part of a trio of pioneering one-off plays for television. Habib passed away on 3 April 2016.
Aged 17, Max Quinn joined the NZ Broadcasting Corporation as a trainee cameraman. At 25 he was filming landmark television dramas like Hunter’s Gold. In 1980 he moved into directing and producing. Since joining Dunedin’s Natural History Unit (now NHNZ) in 1987, Quinn's many talents have helped cement his reputation as one of the most experienced polar filmmakers on the globe.
Veteran Tagata Pasifika producer/reporter John Utanga has interviewed prime ministers, and covered everything from vaka voyaging to Polyfest. Born and bred in Rarotonga, Utanga studied journalism at Auckland University and started as a reporter in print before transferring to television in 1994. Utanga co-founded the Pacific Islands Media Association, has chaired Auckland University of Technology’s Pacific Media Centre, and in 2015 completed the Taupo Ironman. He is now one of the partners in company SunPix, which took over production of Tagata Pasifika in 2015, from TVNZ.
Māori and Cook Island producer and director Lanita Ririnui has made a career telling the stories of youth, women, Māori and Pacific Islanders. Her extensive CV includes Pasifika youth show Fresh, Māori Television's flagship sports show Code, and interactive website Poi 360.
Award-winning documentary maker Peta Carey has framed subjects from a Kiwi buddha to Fiordland waterfalls, Pacific atolls to paragliders. She cut her teeth as a presenter on kids show Spot On, then began directing current affairs. Genetic research examination Lifting of the Makutu won her a 2006 NZ Screen Award. Carey runs Watershed Films, and has written feature stories for North & South and The Listener.
Lisa Taouma has a laufala bag spilling over with Pasifika screen credits. She has directed on Tagata Pasifika, helmed TV2’s Polyfest and made documentaries on subjects from Samoan tattoo to fa’afafine. She produces pioneering PI youth show Fresh with Mario Gaoa, and in 2014 launched Polynesian online community Coconet. Taouma also wrote short films Brown Sugar and Talk of the Town.