Jools Topp is half of performing duo The Topp Twins. The sisters have taken their songs and comic characters to stages across the world, plus successful television shows The Topp Twins and Topp Country. The duo's story was told in 2009's Untouchable Girls, the most successful local documentary released in New Zealand cinemas to date.
In her 10 year tenure as Māori Affairs correspondent for One News, Tini Molyneux fronted some of the biggest news stories in New Zealand, let alone Māoridom — including the Foreshore and Seabed hikoi, the birth of the Māori Party and the 2007 Urerewa police raids. She began her 30 year television career as a newsreader for Te Karere, and went on to present and report stories for Waka Huia and Marae.
From a career in print journalism and public relations that began in his teens, Gordon Dryden became a familiar face on New Zealand television in the mid 70s. Earning himself a reputation as a tough interviewer, Dryden hosted coverage of the 1975 election before presenting Friday Conference. A 1991 TV series on education would lead to book The Learning Revolution, which sold in the millions.
His name was synonymous with entertainment in New Zealand. Dubbed Ol' Brown Eyes — Māoridom's version of Frank Sinatra — Howard Morrison's voice and charisma carried him through decades of success both here and abroad. From the Howard Morrison Quartet to time as a solo performer, Morrison's take on songs like 'How Great Thou Art' ensured his waiata an enduring place at the top of local playlists.
Les Andrews, QSM, began singing with the Kiwi Concert Party during World War II. After the war he studied at London’s Royal College of Music, and sang on BBC television. Back home he was one of the first faces on air when local television began transmitting, and later spent four years hosting quiz show Personality Squares. With his wife Sonia, he was a busy patron of the arts. Andrews died on 28 February 2014.
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.
The broadcasting career of so-called 'Mr Country Calendar' Frank Torley spanned almost half a century. He worked on the iconic rural series as reporter, producer and narrator, and a number of other programmes besides. In 2002, he was awarded the ONZM for services to broadcasting. Torley died of cancer on 27 March 2016, just weeks after Country Calendar celebrated its 50th year on air.
Tamati Coffey first brought his distinctive smile to television as part of the madcap team on kid's staple What Now? His work on the show saw him nominated for a 2006 NZ Screen Award. The political science graduate then began weather presenting and associated duties on Breakfast. In 2009 Coffey was the proud winner on Dancing with the Stars. Three years later he presented TVNZ's primetime reboot of New Zealand's Got Talent for two seasons. After representing the Labour Party in the Rotorua electorate in 2014, Tamati won the Māori electorate of Waiariki in the 2017 elections.
Fiona Samuel, MNZM, has worked prolifically across so many fields that she defies labels: aside from acting on stage and screen, she is a playwright (The Wedding Party), director (TV movies Bliss and Piece of My Heart), scriptwriter (Consent, Outrageous Fortune) and singer (musical revue Babes in the Mood).
Jacob Rajan’s play Krishnan’s Diary was a breakout success, named 1997 Chapman Tripp production of the year. Through company Indian Ink, the Malaysian-born, Kiwi-raised Rajan has since co-created and starred in a series of plays, winning sellout performances, awards in Edinburgh and a renowned American agent. He has also acted on screen in Outrageous Fortune, Shortland Street, and starred in award-winning Fish Skin Suit.