A self taught stargazer, Peter Read’s passion for astronomy coincided with a budding television industry and the beginning of manned spaceflight. His programme, Night Sky, played in primetime from 1964; and his avuncular style inspired New Zealanders to look at the stars. It was the country’s longest running TV show when it was cancelled in 1974, and he was the longest serving presenter. Peter Read died in 1981.
Billy T James ranks as a key figure in the development of Kiwi comedy. Billy honed his talents as a singer and comedian on stages worldwide, then brought them to a local TV audience on throwback show Radio Times. His self-titled comedy show was a major ratings hit. His turn as the Tainuia kid in Came a Hot Friday is still fondly remembered — as is Billy T's infectious chuckle, black singlet and yellow towel.
After graduating from New Zealand Broadcasting School, Clarke Gayford created student show Cow TV. Presenting gigs followed for music channel C4, United Travel Getaway, and Extraordinary Kiwis. In 2016 he swapped his microphone for a speargun to launch Fish of the Day, a Choice TV show about his lifelong passion. In 2017 Gayford became NZ’s 'first bloke', when partner Jacinda Ardern became Prime Minister.
Josh McKenzie joined the cast of Shortland Street in 2013 as ambitious executive assistant Nate Clark. His other roles include the boy in TV's Girl vs Boy, good guy Tim in the final season of Go Girls, All Black Dan Carter in The Kick and Power Ranger Jordan. In 2015 he began a memorable turn in TV's Filthy Rich, as the dodgy outcast son of a wealthy family. McKenzie won an Aotearoa Film Award for Outstanding Feature Film Debut, for his role in 2013 movie The Hopes and Dreams of Gazza Snell.
Co-creator of anthology series Mataku, Bradford Haami is a producer, director and scriptwriter as well as an author, lecturer and Māori historian. His passion for storytelling and expertise in Māori culture has seen him work on television productions and act as a consultant to numerous local and international drama, documentary and features over the past two decades.
Palmerston North-born Michael Dean won fame as a longtime presenter on pioneering BBC arts show Late Night Line-Up. Although his three decade broadcasting career was mostly spent in England, Dean also did time downunder. In 1972 he presented an opinionated Survey special on how New Zealand had changed, followed by talk show Dean on Saturday. He passed away in England on 5 October 2015.
From an early role as a teen bully in Children of Fire Mountain, Mark Hadlow, ONZM, has gone on to work beside Billy T James, Peter Jackson, talking hedgehogs and mutant huhu grubs. The veteran actor/comedian is fondly remembered for playing a wide-eyed farmer on hit TV series Willy Nilly; in Jackson’s three-part adaptation of The Hobbit, he was grey-bearded Dori the dwarf.
Tainui Stephens is a Kiwi screen taonga. Since joining Koha as a reporter in 1984, he has brought many Māori stories to television, and worked on everything from Marae to Māori Television's version of It's in the Bag. Among the notable documentaries he has directed are Māori Battalion doco March to Victory and award-winning show The New Zealand Wars. He was a producer on Vincent Ward film Rain of the Children.
In 2010, thanks to his work on James Cameron's Avatar, Kim Sinclair joined the short list of Kiwis to have scored both an Academy Award and a Bafta. His globetrotting career as a production designer has seen him working in locations from Mexico to Thailand to the Southern Alps, and for directors Martin Campbell (Vertical Limit), Steven Spielberg (The Adventures of Tintin) and Robert Zemeckis (Cast Away).
Thomas Robins has acted alongside digital penguins, dodgy teachers, and a ring forged in the fires of Mount Doom. Off-screen, his directing work has won a bag of awards, thanks to 2009's Reservoir Hill. He created the International Emmy-winning web series with David Stubbs, his partner at KHF Media. Robins was also behind TV series The Killian Curse, and directed 2017 telemovie Catching the Black Widow.