As a head of drama in New Zealand television, John McRae spearheaded a run of shows that were both local and export successes. McRae's four-decade television career saw him working in three countries, and winning two Emmy awards.
Brother of pioneering aviator Jean Batten, Rotorua-born John Batten began acting in films while living in the United States. By the 1930s he was winning starring roles in England, including The Great Game and submarine drama Men Like This. Later he appeared in his only known New Zealand film, Rudall Hayward short Song of the Wanganui. Batten passed away in England in 1993.
Barbara Darragh's screen costumes have been worn by ghosts, prostitutes, Māori warriors and Tainuia Kid Billy T James. An award-winner for The Dead Lands, River Queen and The End of the Golden Weather, Darragh's CV includes TV shows Under the Mountain and Greenstone, plus more than a dozen other features. She also runs Auckland costume hire company Across the Board.
Kirsty Cameron started in short film and art installation, before costume designing the first of around 20 feature films — including the acclaimed Whale Rider, Slow West, and No. 2. Her list of awards also includes The Orator and TV movie Jean, about aviator Jean Batten. Cameron's third short as writer/ director, teen fable The Lethal Innocents, was invited to festivals in Sweden, Germany and the USA.
Morton Wilson began composing for film while playing in band Schtung. Hagen and fellow band member Andrew Hagen went on to provide music for a quartet of Kiwi movies, including The Scarecrow and Kingpin. In 1981 they moved to Hong Kong and got even busier, composing commercials. Wilson went on to oversee Schtung sound studios in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, while Hagen launched Schtung in Hollywood.
Tony Ciprian, who passed away on 13 January 2015, spent at least 25 years shepherding sport onto local TV screens. The onetime policeman began as a reporter at Gisborne's Radio 2ZG, then moved to television fulltime; by the 80s he was producing and presenting sports for TVNZ's primetime news. In at the launch of TV3 in 1989, Ciprian mentored many young journalists, before making the first of many attempts to retire.
Brad McGann's debut feature In My Father's Den won awards in Germany, China, England, Canada, the United States, and New Zealand; The Australian reviewer called it "one of the best films I have ever seen". McGann had earlier won acclaim for his moody fourth short Possum (1997). McGann passed away from cancer in May 2007. He was only 43.
Being a big man with a “face like the map of Ireland” made him an unlikely starter, but in the mid-70s Glyn Tucker was one of New Zealand’s best known screen personalities. The larger-than-life character was a racing guru, and also a popular radio then TV presenter: his television roles ranged across sports commentator, punting pundit, crooner and light entertainment show host.
Philippa Boyens (incredibly) began her screenwriting career with The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Before then the long-time Tolkien fan had worked mainly in theatre. Return of the King won Boyens an Oscar, a BAFTA, and many other awards. She next worked with Jackson and Walsh on King Kong, and an adaptation of novel The Lovely Bones. Boyens returned to Middle-earth for The Hobbit.
Since relocating from the United Kingdom, Peter Roberts has made his mark in New Zealand as an editor. Roberts found his editing niche at TVNZ, before a prolific freelance career saw him cutting a string of documentaries, shorts, and features — including award-winning drama The Dark Horse. In 2013 he became the first editor to be elected President of the Directors and Editors Guild of New Zealand.