A meticulous, unflappable producer and director, John Lye’s career spanned three decades – most of it spent with TVNZ in Christchurch and Avalon. Lye did time as a cameraman and floor manager. Later he commanded two major productions of the 1980s — That’s Country and McPhail and Gadsby. After leaving TVNZ in 2000, he helped launch Big Brother Australia and live broadcasts of New Zealand Parliament.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the multi-talented Dave Fraser brought his multiple musical talents to score everything from features and National Film Unit documentaries to television dramas and commercials. Image credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-215042-F (Detail)
Lynda Topp is half of the Topp Twins, the singing sisters who have plucked their way across the country and the globe with their unique brand of comedy and country music. 2009 Topp Twins documentary Untouchable Girls is the most successful local doco released to date in local cinemas. In 2014 the twins presented TV series Topp Country, which became the third most watched local programme of the year.
Ray Columbus, OBE, began hosting television shows at the tender age of 19. After Columbus and the Invaders topped Australasian charts with 1964 single 'She's a Mod', Columbus spent time as a musician in America. The song was covered multiple times. He later returned to Aotearoa to resume a long career as recording artist, TV presenter and talent manager. Columbus passed away in late November 2016.
Raymond Thompson, MNZM, has created and supervised a run of television shows since setting up base in New Zealand in the mid 90s. Longtime head of production company Cloud 9, he first began selling scripts in his native England. Thompson's series The Tribe, set in a world without adults, became a cult international hit, running for five seasons plus a sequel. His shows have sold to more than 130 countries.
Trevor Spitz, who died in March 2012, was a key player in the 1989 launch of channel TV3. The musician turned promoter had begun working in television in the 70s as a talent scout and producer of entertainment shows, and won success — and controversy — with hit television export That's Country. He was influential in the careers of many performers, including comedic duo McPhail and Gadsby and singer Suzanne Prentice.
Andrew Shaw has experience of both sides of the camera. After debuting in his teens as a popular children's TV host, Shaw went on to spend time as producer and director, on a variety of music programmes and live shows. These days he is a TVNZ executive, responsible for commissioning and buying programmes.
Stephen Latty has built up an eclectic CV encompassing short films, a run of documentaries, and 2010 feature film Russian Snark. His collaborations with director Michael Heath include two docos on modernist painter Edith Collier, and spellbinding images for 50-minute drama A Small Life. As a director, he has chronicled musicians in Opera in the Outback (with Kiri Te Kanawa) and country music tale Maple on the Hill.
Brent Hansen was a director of iconic 80s music show Radio With Pictures for four years. In 1987 he joined music network MTV in London. By 2003 he had risen to the position of creative president of the entire MTV network outside of America. Hansen finally left MTV in 2006.
Libby Hakaraia has an overflowing kete of credits, covering subjects from Fat Freddy’s Drop to Apirana Ngata, Anzac Day to Anne Salmond. The ex-radio journalist had a screen apprenticeship at Kiwa Productions, where she made many docos on Māori themes. Based in Otaki, she now produces shows with partner Tainui Stephens under the Blue Bach banner, including the popular Māori Television reboot of It’s in the Bag.