Peter Wells broke ground as one of the first New Zealanders to tell gay stories on-screen. Aside from his work as an author, he explored gay and historical themes in several acclaimed drama and documentaries — among them pioneering TV drama A Death in the Family, Georgina Beyer documentary Georgie Girl, and lavish big screen melodrama Desperate Remedies. Wells died on 18 February 2019.
Barry Barclay — director of landmark TV series Tangata Whenua and feature film Ngati — was a longtime campaigner for the right of indigenous people to tell their own stories, to their own people. In 2004 he was made an Arts Foundation Laureate, and in 2007 a Member of the NZ Order of Merit. Barclay passed away on 19 February 2008, after publishing his acclaimed book Mana Tuturu.
During his career as a production designer, Rob Gillies has drafted plans for subterranean caverns (Under the Mountain), 60s era Kiwi garages (The World's Fastest Indian) and a slew of palaces, forts and magical kingdoms. Along the way he has won awards for a number of productions, including Fastest Indian and Xena: Warrior Princess.
Since debuting in the late 90s as presenter of crime-solving show Crimescene, Dan Henry has gone on to direct a range of non-fiction programmes, from Country Calendar and Here to Stay, to Lost in Libya, the acclaimed tale of the Kiwis who were part of World War II's Long Range Desert Patrol.
With his 1973 book Tangi, Witi Ihimaera became the first Māori to publish both a novel and a book of short stories. Later his book The Whale Rider inspired a feature film which won international acclaim, and became one of the highest grossing 'foreign' titles released internationally in 2003. Ihimaera's work has also seen a number of television adaptations, including landmark big city tale Big Brother, Little Sister.
Starring one cow and two elderly guitarists, Michael Bennett's first short film Cow was invited to screen at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. Since then he has written and/or directed a wide range of projects, from children's television (Kaitangata Twitch) to award-winning shows about Māori architecture (Whare Māori). His feature film work includes ensemble feature Matariki, and the script for Cliff Curtis comedy Jubilee.
Maurice Gee, who was named an Arts Foundation icon in 2003, is one of New Zealand's most acclaimed writers. His work for the screen includes creating 80s kidult series The Fire-Raiser and The Champion. Gee's novels have also inspired a number of adaptations, notably classic sci-fi series Under the Mountain and movie In My Father's Den.
Although best known as a writer, Maurice Shadbolt also did time as a filmmaker. In his 20s he made a number of films at the National Film Unit, as part of a career that encompassed fiction, journalism, theatre and two volumes of autobiography. His classic Gallipoli play Once on Chunuk Bair was made into a feature film in 1992.
The novels of Elizabeth Knox range from autobiographically-based fiction to fantasy. One of New Zealand's most successful writers, she found an international audience in 1998 with breakthrough novel Vintner's Luck. This tale of angels and French vineyards has been brought to the screen by Whale Rider director Niki Caro.
Andrew Niccol is one of the rare Kiwis to have made a career in Hollywood, and to boot he has done so largely with films based on his original ideas. His directing debut was dystopic GE future tale Gattaca, and he wrote one of the most acclaimed films of the 90s, reality TV saga The Truman Show. He has directed A-list actors Al Pacino, Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, Nicolas Cage, and Justin Timberlake.