Carol Hirschfeld spent 12 years at TVNZ in news and current affairs, and also co-hosted Crimewatch. In 1997 she was hired to read TV3's 6pm news, the start of an extended association with John Campbell. They presented 3 News for seven years, then she began producing Campbell Live in 2004. Since 2009 Hirschfeld has done time as Head of Programming at Māori Television, and Head of Content at RNZ.
Jess Feast is a documentary maker whose work covers everything from Berlin and ballet to the Flight of the Conchords. Cowboys & Communists examined cultural conflicts in post-cold war Berlin via a US-themed bar and residents of the tower block it’s housed in. 2013 breakout hit Gardening with Soul follows a year in the life of a vivacious nonagenarian nun and won the Best Documentary Moa (NZ Film) award.
Margaret Mahy was a renowned author of children's books who also wrote for television. Amongst her many international awards is the Hans Christian Andersen Award (known as the Little Nobel Prize) for a "lasting contribution to children's literature". A highly visual writer, Mahy both wrote for the screen (Maddigan's Quest, Strangers), and her books inspired a number of programmes. She passed away on 23 July 2012.
From a turbulent beginning in Auckland, self-styled adventurer and traveller Shayle Gardner was regularly employed on the British stage, and managed NZ troops’ entertainment during World War I. He also played his part in UK silent film history, starring in Comin’ thro' the Rye and The Three Passions. Gardner also had a short, tantalising stay in Hollywood; but in the end he came to rest in the place of his birth.Image credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, Eph-A-DRAMA-1922-01 (Detail)
As an intrepid young cameraman for the National Film Unit, Don Oakley travelled to remote parts of New Zealand and brought to the screen scenes of the recently-rediscovered takahē, Opo the dolphin, and life in the backblocks. In a lengthy career, he also filmed in the studio and overseas, rising to be chief cameraman of the NFU.
Surely the most famous comedian to rise from West Auckland, Ewen Gilmour won the first Billy T award in 1997, and a devoted following. The longtime petrolhead had begun making regular appearances on TV show Pulp Comedy in the mid 90s; there would also be live performances in Paris, Ireland, Montreal, and across the length of New Zealand. Gilmour passed away in his sleep in early October 2014.
Ron Skelley spent 36 years with the National Film Unit’s sound department, contributing to the soundtracks of Weekly Review, Pictorial Parade, and many other NFU and independent films. He started at the NFU in 1949, and was in charge of the sound department from 1977 until his retirement in 1985. Skelley died in March 1992. Image Credit: Photo from The Evening Post, courtesy of Fairfax Media
The familiar voice of radio announcer Peter Hutt was also heard on the soundtracks of many National Film Unit productions. From 1946, when Weekly Review put a few minutes each week of New Zealand scenes and people on cinema screens, until 1972, when television was presenting hours daily of the country and its people, Hutt also developed his talent for directing, writing and editing films. Image credit: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, ID 34-232 (detail). Photographer Clifton Firth
There were times when the career of longtime National Film Unit director David Sims could have been cut short. Having survived close encounters with steam locomotives in mountainous terrain, he narrowly escaped being blown up, drowned and burnt alive at sea. Even filming a planned set-up on location had its hazards, as he found when his call of “action!” sent exploding rocks whistling by perilously close overhead.
The broadcasting career of so-called 'Mr Country Calendar' Frank Torley spanned almost half a century. He worked on the iconic rural series as reporter, producer and narrator, and a number of other programmes besides. In 2002, he was awarded the ONZM for services to broadcasting. Torley died of cancer on 27 March 2016, just weeks after Country Calendar celebrated its 50th year on air.