National MP Melissa Lee first made her name presenting award-winning television series Asia Downunder. The show was launched in 1994 and Lee worked on 600 episodes, many as producer. In 2008 she became New Zealand's first Korean MP, and was later named Parliamentary Private Secretary for Ethnic Communities.
Known for his stylish reinventions of familiar genres, Scott Reynolds followed successful short A Game with No Rules, with rave reviews and a host of awards for his debut feature, serial killer tale The Ugly. Two further movies — Heaven and When Strangers Appear — have followed.
Leanne Saunders’ eye for talent has resulted in producer credits on six features: box office hits Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Born to Dance, Nazi horror The Devil’s Rock, and dramas Desert, The Weight of Elephants and Christmas. She also executive produced a run of successful shorts. In 2016 Saunders was appointed Head of Production and Development at the NZ Film Commission.
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.
One of the funniest people on either side of the Tasman, John Clarke’s brand of droll wit (always delivered with a wickedly understated authenticity) defined the high-water mark of Kiwi and Australian comedy for 30 years. Spawned in the early 70s, his gumboot-clad character Fred Dagg marked a defining moment in the development of New Zealand comedy. Clarke passed away on 9 April 2017.
Television producer Philip Smith made his name with a stable of internationally-successful sports programmes. These days, as head of production company Great Southern Film and Television, he has been expanding from comic shows like Eating Media Lunch into other fields — including reality shows (Rescue 1), Moa-nominated telemovie The Kick and 2008 movie Apron Strings.
Anzac Wallace made one of the most memorable debuts in New Zealand cinema when he starred as avenging guerilla leader Te Wheke in classic Māori Western Utu. The former trade union delegate followed it with movies The Silent One (1984) and Mauri (1988) and pioneering Māori TV series E Tipu E Rea. He passed away on 8 April 2019.
Roger Hall began writing and acting on television in the late 1960s. In 1976 his debut play Glide Time became a sellout — later he turned his satire of bureaucrats into Gliding On, New Zealand's most successful sitcom to date. Play Middle Aged Spread became a film in 1979. Hall went on to write marital comedy Conjugal Rights for English television. He remains Aotearoa's most successful playwright.
Derek Morton is one of those happily unsung industry all-rounders who has tried a little of everything: from documentaries and children's TV to underground films, doing time as a cameraman, editor, writer, producer and director (from commercials and docos, to trucking drama Roche), as well as running his own production company.
Bailey Mackey's first television job was as a reporter for Māori news programme Te Karere. Later, while Head of Sport for Māori Television, he created long-running sports show Code. Mackey established companies Black Inc Media and Pango Productions, and co-created high profile 2012 reality series The GC. He also sold the format for Pango's hit show Sidewalk Karaoke to global company FremantleMedia.