Veteran actor Roy Billing has acted in so many films, TV shows and plays, his CV runs to more than 10 pages. Often cast as the straight-talking everyman, Billing has also provided award-winning screen portrayals of rugby-playing priests (Old Scores), drug barons (Underbelly), small-town mayors (The Dish) and avuncular judges (Rake).
The career of pioneering documentarian Bill Saunders began in the early days of New Zealand television. He went on to champion a fly on the wall documentary style and win Feltex Awards for acclaimed films on Moriori, and the elderly. Saunders was the final remaining member of TVNZ’s documentary unit when it was disbanded in 1988, and an outspoken advocate of public service broadcasting until his death in 1995.
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).
Julian Dickon’s place in New Zealand screen history would be secure thanks to just one show — groundbreaking 70s drama series Pukemanu, which he created. Dickon also wrote a number of early plays for television, and went on to write drama, documentary and children’s show Sea Urchins. Dickon passed away on 3 April 2015.
After working his way up through the ranks of TVNZ in the 80s, producer Gavin Wood travelled the world to work on reality game shows across 10 countries. Alongside work on the local versions of popular game shows such as Wheel of Fortune, he produced live coverage of the 2011 Rugby World Cup opening ceremony on the Auckland waterfront — which went live to 1.5 billion people worldwide.
Christopher Plummer went from playing punk music to cutting film, first at TVNZ editing documentaries, and then on a slate of award-winning films. They include the shorts Sure to Rise (Niki Caro), and Possum (Brad McGann); and feature films Channelling Baby, In My Father's Den, Black Sheep, No.2, Vincent Ward doco Rain of the Children, and Taika Waititi's breakout hit Boy.
From the mid 1960s into the 1980s, Christopher Bourn’s name was synonymous with entertainment on New Zealand television. But the man behind talent shows Studio One and New Faces also played a role in groundbreaking sports broadcasts, including the first All Black test screened on television. Bourn also held senior management roles in both the old NZ Broadcasting Corporation and TVNZ.
Peter Montgomery’s colourful and vibrant commentaries made him “the voice of New Zealand yachting”. Through the 1980s and 1990s, Montgomery played a major part in the sport’s move to mass popularity and had a central role in radio and TV coverage of Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup campaigns. On dry land, he has covered many other sports, and made the Eden Park side-line his own over two decades of rugby commentaries.
After learning how to cut film at legendary indie company Pacific Films in the 1970s, Michael Hacking moved into directing while working for TVNZ. Since directing for 1987 series Journeys in National Parks, his work as a director, producer, and writer for Natural History New Zealand has taken him around the globe.
Ric Pellizzeri is an award-winning TV director and producer. He has worked extensively both in his native Australia and New Zealand, having partnered with company Screentime on Underbelly NZ and telefilms Siege, How to Murder Your Wife, The Monster of Mangatiti and Rainbow Warrior drama Bombshell. His Aussie credits include hit police drama Blue Heelers and directing the pilot episode of Home and Away.