Sima Urale, Samoa’s first female filmmaker, has brought touching stories of Pacific peoples to the screen, often from an NZ outsider’s point of view. Urale credits her film success to determination and dealing with social issues close to her heart. Her lauded shorts (O Tamaiti, Still Life) were followed by her 2008 feature debut Apron Strings. Urale has also spent time as head tutor at Wellington's NZ Film and Television School.
Samoan Kiwi Beulah Koale first discovered acting as a way to skip classes, then appeared in short films Manurewa and Suni Man. After doing a guest spot on Shortland Street in 2012, he won a recurring role. In 2014 Koale starred in big screen crime drama The Last Saint, as a young man who becomes a drug courier to help his family. He followed it with post-apocalyptic TV series The Cul De Sac, then won acclaim for film Thank You for Your Service, in which he played an American Samoan soldier struggling to adapt to life after fighting in Iraq. Two years later he joined the team of cops on long-running series Hawaii-Five-O.
Max Cryer’s career as an entertainer has encompassed pioneering live talk shows (Town Cryer), singing on stage and screen, and extended time in the United States. After a busy decade of television presenting beginning in the late 60s, Cryer went behind the scenes to produce a clutch of quiz shows —before a late flowering as a prolific, bestselling author, exploring his love of words and Kiwi culture.
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.
Rowley Habib — also known as Rore Hapipi — was one of the first writers to bring a genuinely Māori perspective to New Zealand stage and screen. His play Death of the Land is seen as a landmark in the development of Māori theatre. In 1983 Habib won a Feltex Award for land rights drama The Protestors, part of a trio of pioneering one-off plays for television. Habib passed away on 3 April 2016.
Shirley Horrocks, ONZM, is one of New Zealand’s leading directors of documentaries about the arts. Her work has chronicled the work and lives of artist Len Lye, photographer Marti Friedlander, writer Albert Wendt and playwright Roger Hall. Her films have won awards, and screened at festivals from France and Italy to the United States.
Jayashree Panjabi began her television career in 1980 as a presenter on children's staple Play School, which she later returned to direct. During (and after) eight years with programme powerhouse NHNZ, Panjabi directed and produced documentaries around the world.
Ray Waru has been a prolific television producer and director since the 1970s, specialising in Māori, heritage and historical programming. He established the first Māori production unit and has been involved in a range of ground-breaking, award-winning shows, while operating his own media company for over 20 years. In 2006 Waru was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for services to broadcasting.
Ray Collins was working in a camera-shop when a senior BCNZ cameraman offered him a job on the spot. Collins was shooting items for the main evening news his first morning on the job. Based in Dunedin for much of the 15 years he spent with the state broadcaster, Collins shot for Spot On, Fair Go and Wild Track. Collins left TVNZ in 1990, and now shoots and makes programmes from his Dunedin base.
German-raised Alexander Behse has produced a run of documentaries exploring Māori subjects, from ta moko to te reo Shakespeare, to acclaimed Tūhoe HQ story Ever the Land. Behse got an MA in production from UTS Sydney, and has many TV credits as an editor. He made his directing debut with 2012 TV documentary Nazi Hunter, and was at the helm of award-winning TV series Radar Across the Pacific.