Described by New Zealand Geographic as the "doyen of New Zealand diving", Wade Doak was an author, marine ecologist and conservationist. Along with Kelly Tarlton he was a pioneer of underwater exploration and filming in Aotearoa. Behind and in front of the camera, he contributed to documentaries for Wild South and production company NHNZ, and showcased Aotearoa’s undersea world to wide audiences.
A visit to the set of Geoff Murphy film The Quiet Earth motivated Karen Sidney to work in the screen industry. One of her first jobs was in the art department for 1985 miniseries Heart of the High Country. She went on to join a filmmaking course run by Ngāti director Barry Barclay, then moved into documentary, producing A Whale's Tale. She also wrote award-winning Cliff Curtis drama Kahu & Maia. In 2002 Sidney helped develop Aroha, a series of love stories in te reo. She also co-produced, and wrote episode Mataora. Sidney has spent time lecturing in film studies in Whangarei, and working at Creative Northland.
An ideas man who campaigned for a Government film body, Stanhope Andrews would become the National Film Unit's first manager. Andrews commanded the Unit for a decade. Along the way he oversaw dramatic expansion, set up regular newsreel Weekly Review, and opened the door to filmmakers of both genders.
Mike King has spent his life cracking people up, although it hasn't always been easy to laugh himself. Starting out in stand-up, he began a long TV career as a comedian, chat show host, reality star and presenter of the acclaimed Lost in Translation. From the face of NZ Pork to animal rights activist, from addict to suicide prevention campaigner, King's progression has been nothing if not eclectic.
As a 20-something theatre actor Kelly Johnson starred as larrikin car thief Gerry Austin in Goodbye Pork Pie, the first NZ blockbuster. Johnson reunited with director Geoff Murphy for Utu, and starred as a farmer hitting the city in Carry Me Back. There were more vehicular hijinks in Queen Street and Pheno was Here. The Whangarei lawyer has also co-scripted short film Sink or Swim, and guested on Shortland Street.
Bill Kerton has directing and writing credits on shows from Havoc and Newsboy to Jim Hickey’s A Flying Visit, but it’s his voice that will be most recognisable to punters. Duncan Greive of The Spinoff called him a "narrating genius" for his observational documentary voice-overs. Kerton's distinctive drawl and humour have graced everything from bogans to Neighbours at War, the show he also directed for four seasons.
Laurel Devenie prefers to think of acting in terms of the long steady climb, rather than the big break. Wondering if university studies were her bag, Devenie went and made a short film instead. Roadkill (2001) won her a gig in television, but she chose drama school Toi Whakaari. She went on to work as stand-in for Sigourney Weaver in Avatar, direct plays in Whāngārei, and star in acclaimed play On the Upside Down of the World, which she took to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. After parts on TV's The Blue Rose and Rainbow Warrior drama Bombshell, Devenie joined the cast of Shortland Street in 2016, as nurse Kate Nathan.
Barbara Magner won many fans when she brought her lively, personable style to 60s era magazine show Town and Around. Born in the Waikato, Magner began her broadcasting career on state radio, then in the 60s moved into continuity announcing on television. Further television gigs followed into the 70s. Magner passed away on 12 July 2014, at the age of 77.
After studying acting in Whangarei, Rob Mokaraka won a Best Newcomer Champman Tripp acting award for 2001 play Have Car, Will Travel. On screen he was part of the ensemble cast in acclaimed Māori Battalion tale Tama Tu, and Paolo Rotondo-directed short The Freezer. Mokaraka and Rotondo would later collaborate on award-winning play Strange Resting Places, a tale of Māori and Italian bonds during World War ll.
Shirlie Fairbrother arrived in New Zealand in 1986 with her partner Keith Lambert. Together they set up Morningside Productions, and Lambert created the Open Door series to give community groups a voice on television. Following his death in 2007, Fairbrother continued to produce and direct Open Door. One of her episodes, 'Road to Recovery', won a Special Media Award at the 2008 MHS Mental Health Conference.