John Bates is a documentary director whose low profile and natural modesty belies his talent. His award-winning documentaries range across many iconic New Zealand people and events, including the 1951 waterfront dispute, the 1975 Māori Land March, late photographer Robin Morrison, and the history of television itself.
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.
A passionate advocate for Māori creative control, director Merata Mita (1942 — 2010) chronicled landmark moments of protest and division in Aotearoa. Her work included Patu!, a documentary on the 1981 Springbok tour, and Mauri (1988), only the second feature to have a Māori woman as director. She features in documentaries Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen and Merata Mita - Making Waves.
John Anderson got busy directing a run of television dramas in the 1980s, including award-winning Polynesian road movie Mark ll, and two of the final works by playwright Bruce Mason. The onetime actor reinvented himself as a documentary filmmaker in the 90s, then relocated to Kiribati, where he worked on more than 400 films covering everything from climate change to dance. Anderson died in Kiribati on 19 August 2016.
Bill Kerton has directing and writing credits on shows from Havoc and Newsboy to Jim Hickey’s A Flying Visit, but it’s his voice that will be most recognisable to punters. Duncan Greive of The Spinoff called him a "narrating genius" for his observational documentary voice-overs. Kerton's distinctive drawl and humour have graced everything from bogans to Neighbours at War, the show he also directed for four seasons.
Des Monaghan has worked as a producer and network executive in both New Zealand and Australia. A pioneering force in local current affairs, he went on to beome TVNZ's Controller of Programming, and sue Prime Minister Robert Muldoon for defamation. In 1996 Monaghan joined Bob Campbell to found Australasian production company Screentime, producers of the globally successful Underbelly drama franchise.
Since first winning fame as lead singer of 60s blues band The Underdogs, Murray Grindlay has gone on to apply his musical talents as a composer for feature films (Sleeping Dogs, Once Were Warriors), veteran jingle-writer (including the classic Crunchie train robbery commercial), and producer (hit single 'Sailing Away', Goldenhorse's Out of the Moon).
New Zealand’s first left-wing documentary filmmaker, Cecil Holmes achieved notoriety in the late 1940s through the highly publicised exposure of his communist activity as a Public Service Association (PSA) delegate in the National Film Unit. He went on to become a significant film director in Australia.Image credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-023573; F (detail)
Nancy Brunning was on the staff of Shortland Street for the first episode in 1992. In 1999 she stole the screen as a young gang girl in Once Were Warriors sequel What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? She won a second NZ screen award for drama Ngā Tohu: Signatures, and played the family matriarch in 2016 film Mahana. Brunning died in November 2019, shortly before winning Aotearoa's top playwriting award.
Phillipa Dann’s work presenting music shows has taken her from 80s-era series Shazam! to MTV Europe. Dann studied English Literature and acted in series Pioneer Women, before winning a break fronting youth show Viewfinder. In 1986 she departed for a UK screen OE with husband Brent Hansen, before going on to present a run of shows for MTV Europe and VH1.