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.
A passionate advocate for Māori creative control, director Merata Mita (1942 — 2010) chronicled landmark moments of protest and division in Aotearoa. Her work included Patu!, a documentary on the 1981 Springbok tour, and Mauri (1988), only the second feature to have a Māori woman as director. She features in documentaries Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen and Merata Mita - Making Waves.
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.
Actor Heather Lindsay (now Heather Randerson) cemented her part in New Zealand television history as one of the original cast of the country’s first bona-fide soap hit, Close to Home. Alongside her theatre work, she enjoyed an extensive screen career in the 80s and 90s, acting alongside some of the biggest talents of the day.
Alun Falconer started his film career at the National Film Unit in 1946. Early in 1948 he and cameraman Roger Mirams left the NFU and founded the Pacific Film Unit. A year later he went to China where he worked as a journalist and was an eyewitness to the fall of Shanghai. He left in 1950 for London where he returned to film production and later made his name as a television script writer.
Nancy Brunning was on the staff of Shortland Street for the first episode in 1992. In 1999 she stole the screen as a young gang girl in Once Were Warriors sequel What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? She won a second NZ screen award for drama Ngā Tohu: Signatures, and played the family matriarch in 2016 film Mahana. Brunning died in November 2019, shortly before winning Aotearoa's top playwriting award.
From The Governor to The Lord of the Rings, Martyn Sanderson's distinctive voice and sideburns were part of New Zealand's screen landscape for three decades. His work ranged from the experimental to the mainstream, including directing feature films (Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree) and personal documentaries.
Colleen Hodge began her television career in the mid 1970s as a researcher on documentary series Encounter and Perspective. She was a co-founder of independent research company Bluestockings, which worked on the Feltex Award-winning Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story. After time on contract with various television departments, she formed her own production company, and began producing documentaries.
Kirsty Cameron started in short film and art installation, before costume designing the first of around 20 feature films — including the acclaimed Whale Rider, Slow West, and No. 2. Her list of awards also includes The Orator and TV movie Jean, about aviator Jean Batten. Cameron's third short as writer/ director, teen fable The Lethal Innocents, was invited to festivals in Sweden, Germany and the USA.
Producer Fiona Copland is noted for quirky and ambitious films, many of them made with first-time directors. 2009's The Strength of Water won praise at festivals in Rotterdam and Berlin, while multi-stranded narrative feature Matariki arrived in New Zealand theatres in 2010 via the Toronto Film Festival. These days she is part of company Field Theory, with producers Philippa Campbell and Tim Sanders.