A self taught stargazer, Peter Read’s passion for astronomy coincided with a budding television industry and the beginning of manned spaceflight. His programme, Night Sky, played in primetime from 1964; and his avuncular style inspired New Zealanders to look at the stars. It was the country’s longest running TV show when it was cancelled in 1974, and he was the longest serving presenter. Peter Read died in 1981.
The work of promising filmmaker Cameron Duncan was seen internationally, after two of his short films were included on an international DVD release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Son of Auckland cinematographer Rhys Duncan, Cameron continued to make films while battling cancer. He passed away on 12 November 2003, aged 17.
Jools Topp is half of performing duo The Topp Twins. The sisters have taken their songs and comic characters to stages across the world, plus successful television shows The Topp Twins and Topp Country. The duo's story was told in 2009's Untouchable Girls, the most successful local documentary released in New Zealand cinemas to date.
After presenting children's television, sports and magazine shows (Spot On, That's Fairly Interesting, 3:45 LIVE!, Keoghan's Heroes), Phil Keoghan moved to the United States. In 2000 he was picked to host The Amazing Race, one of the most awarded shows in the history of reality television. Multiple Emmy-winner Keoghan has also written book No Opportunity Wasted, and created a bevy of accompanying TV series.
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)
Producer George Andrews has been making documentaries about New Zealand for more than 40 years, including legendary documentary series Landmarks. In 2002 he was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to television.
The consummate all-rounder, Murray Wood began arranging and performing music for television in the 1970s. Later he founded computer sales company MagnumMac, and spent seven years as managing director of Canterbury Television. Wood died in the collapse of the CTV building, in the earthquake of February 22 2011.
Mitchell Manuel burst onto the small screen in Mike Walker's 1981 bros-in-borstal drama Kingi's Story, playing the title role of a petty thief. Manuel followed it with acting and writing credits for acclaimed feature Kingpin (1985) and tele-movie Mark II (1986) — for which he won critical praise, and a best acting award.