By 2001 Russell Crowe was an international star, thanks to award-winning performances in The Insider, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind. Born in New Zealand and raised on both sides of the Tasman, the Oscar winner continues to act in feature films, and in 2014 made his movie directing debut with Aussie hit The Water Diviner. Once known as Auckland singer Russ le Roq, Crowe also sings in band The Ordinary Fear of God.
Ernie Leonard spent time as a soldier, a railways clerk and public relations officer. His first television job was as an actor on Pukemanu, and he became a household name co-presenting wrestling show On the Mat. In 1986 Leonard became the first head of TVNZ's Māori Programmes Department. When he retired, a search of the TVNZ Archives database yielded 38,000 references to him or programmes he'd been associated with.
Pioneering current affairs reporter Dairne Shanahan brought social issues like abortion, transsexuality and poverty into the national conversation. Her credits include documentary Women in Power - Indira Gandhi, and current affairs shows Gallery, Close Up, Sunday and 60 Minutes in New Zealand, The Mike Willesee Show in Australia and W5 in Canada.
Writer and director Damon Fepulea'i trained as an editor before turning to directing. His credits include Dawn Raids and Life After Footy, two documentaries exploring Pacific Islanders experiences in New Zealand, and comedies Jono and Ben, Funny Girls and Mean Mums. His short film Watermark was invited to 20 international film festivals.
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.
A journeyman actor for many years, Peter McCauley is a familiar face on both sides of the Tasman, with a long string of roles in film and television. His gruff, craggy image belies a capacity for sensitivity, and his rich sonorous voice has flattered many a script over the years.
Vincent Burke has been producing television programmes for roughly three decades. Since launching company Top Shelf Productions, he has worked on history series Frontier of Dreams, acclaimed NZ movie history Cinema of Unease, and long-running consumer show Target.