Actor Frank Whitten first won attention in 1984, playing the enigmatic farmer in Vincent Ward's breakthrough feature Vigil. Later he was known to many for his role as the Southern Man in the Speights "onya mate" commercials, and his ongoing appearances in Outrageous Fortune, playing the manipulative grandfather to the West clan. He died in February 2011.
David Blyth cemented his place in the Kiwi filmmaking renaissance with two films that left social realism far behind: 1978 experimental feature Angel Mine, and 1984's Death Warmed Up, New Zealand's first homegrown horror movie. Since then Blyth's work has included family friendly vampire film Moonrise, a number of documentaries on war, and varied works exploring sexuality.
Veteran wildlife cameraman Robert Brown has filmed everything from polar bears to pukeko in places from the Arctic to the Antarctic. He shot the rare bird stories that led to the formation of state television's Natural History Unit (later NHNZ), and contributed to classic BBC David Attenborough series, such as Life on Earth and The Living Planet. In 1981 he won a Feltex Award for his work on Wild South.
Actor, writer and director Rawiri Paratene, ONZM, first sprang into the public eye on the iconic Play School and comedy shows like Joe and Koro. In 1999 he played gangmember Mulla Rota in the sequel to Once Were Warriors, and four years later was seen around the globe as the stubborn grandfather in Whale Rider. In 2010 he won further acclaim after starring in movie The Insatiable Moon.
Producer Meg Douglas began in television as a teenage reporter, before heading behind the camera as an adult. Since then she has worked in a variety of roles — from researcher, writer and production manager, to producer and director. In 2005, Douglas started her own production company, Scottie Productions, which has netted several awards.
One of New Zealand's best known screen actors, Sam Neill possesses a blend of everyman ordinariness, charm and good looks that have made him an international leading man. His resume of television and 70+ feature films includes leading roles in landmark New Zealand movies, from a man alone on the run in breakout feature Sleeping Dogs to the repressed settler in The Piano.
The career of pioneering documentarian Bill Saunders began in the early days of New Zealand television. He went on to champion a fly on the wall documentary style and win Feltex Awards for acclaimed films on Moriori, and the elderly. Saunders was the final remaining member of TVNZ’s documentary unit when it was disbanded in 1988, and an outspoken advocate of public service broadcasting until his death in 1995.
By 2001 Russell Crowe was an international star, thanks to award-winning performances in The Insider, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind. Born in New Zealand and raised on both sides of the Tasman, the Oscar winner continues to act in feature films, and in 2014 made his movie directing debut with Aussie hit The Water Diviner. Once known as Auckland singer Russ le Roq, Crowe also sings in band The Ordinary Fear of God.
The late Hone Tūwhare (1922-2008) remains one of New Zealand's most loved and respected poets. Tūwhare has been the subject of numerous documentaries. He also wrote short stories and plays, and the drama Eel for anthology television series E Tipu e Rea. Tuwhare died on 16 January 2008 in Dunedin.
Keisha Castle-Hughes found fame at 12, when Whale Rider became an international hit. Her debut performance as spirited Māori girl Pai scored an Oscar nomination. She followed a variety of international roles with local success, including TV show The Almighty Johnsons and acclaim and a Qantas award for telemovie Piece of My Heart. In 2015 she joined the cast of hit series Game of Thrones.