Lee Tamahori worked his way up the filmmaking ranks, before debuting as a feature director with 1994's Once Were Warriors. The portrait of a violent marriage became the most successful film in Kiwi history, and won international acclaim. Between Warriors and 2016's Mahana, Tamahori has worked mainly overseas, where he has directed everything from The Sopranos to 007 blockbuster Die Another Day.
Playwright turned director Toa Fraser grabbed the theatre world with award-winning play No.2, which he then directed for the screen. At the 2006 Sundance Festival it won the coveted audience award. Follow-up Dean Spanley won seven gongs at the 2009 Qantas Film Awards, including best director. Fraser went on to helm ballet documentary Giselle, te reo action movie The Dead Lands, and hostage drama 6 Days.
With the movie Savage Honeymoon and classic TV show Outrageous Fortune, Mark Beesley established himself as the man to call when dealing with rough and tumble families from West Auckland. Elsewhere the talented director and sometime producer has shown his gift for melding comedy and drama on The Almighty Johnsons, Insiders Guide to Happiness, and Xena: Warrior Princess.
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.
For three decades, playwright and critic Bruce Mason played intelligent, impassioned witness to many key developments in Kiwi theatre and culture; a number of them his own. His play The Pohutukawa Tree has spawned more than 180 productions, and was watched by 20 million after being adapted for the BBC. The End of the Golden Weather is both a classic solo play, and movie.
David Blyth cemented his place in the Kiwi filmmaking renaissance with two films that left social realism far behind: 1978 experimental feature Angel Mine, and 1984's Death Warmed Up, New Zealand's first homegrown horror movie. Since then Blyth's work has included family friendly vampire film Moonrise, a number of documentaries on war, and varied works exploring sexuality.
Richard O’Brien made his mark in the history of musicals — and cult movies — after creating the tale of a sweet transvestite from Transylvania. The Rocky Horror Picture Show has played on cinema screens for decades. The stage show continues to win new fans. O’Brien has gone on to a wide range of projects, including movie Dark City and hosting New Zealand’s DNA Detectives and UK hit The Crystal Maze.
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.
Peter Jackson has gone from being a shy, unknown fanboy making pastiche versions of his favourite fantasy movies, to a renowned master of his craft; from Pukerua Bay to Wellywood: today he has few peers in the realm of large scale filmmaking.
Seasoned stand-up comedian Rhys Darby played an inept band manager on cult hit Flight of the Conchords. It proved a springboard to wider fame. After feature acting roles on both sides of the Atlantic, Darby took the lead role in Kiwi romantic comedy Love Birds. 2014 saw the debut of comedy show Short Poppies, with Darby playing a different person in each episode. He continues to act and perform live.