His name was synonymous with entertainment in New Zealand. Dubbed Ol' Brown Eyes — Māoridom's version of Frank Sinatra — Howard Morrison's voice and charisma carried him through decades of success both here and abroad. From the Howard Morrison Quartet to time as a solo performer, Morrison's take on songs like 'How Great Thou Art' ensured his waiata an enduring place at the top of local playlists.
After working his way up through the ranks of TVNZ in the 80s, producer Gavin Wood travelled the world to work on reality game shows across 10 countries. Alongside work on the local versions of popular game shows such as Wheel of Fortune, he produced live coverage of the 2011 Rugby World Cup opening ceremony on the Auckland waterfront — which went live to 1.5 billion people worldwide.
Temuera Morrison was acting on screen at age 11. Two decades later he won Kiwi TV immortality as Dr Ropata in Shortland Street, and rave global reviews as abusive husband Jake Heke in Once Were Warriors. Since reprising his Warriors role in a well-regarded sequel, Morrison has starred in Crooked Earth, Tracker and Mahana, hosted a talk show and a variety show, and played Jango Fett in two Star Wars prequels.
Since the late 1980s Bryan Bruce has been a prolific documentary maker and presenter. Over more than 30 documentaries, plus three seasons of The Investigator, he has cast fresh eyes on some of the most famous crimes in New Zealand’s history, and asked tough questions about the country’s economic and social trajectory.
Ray Columbus, OBE, began hosting television shows at the tender age of 19. After Columbus and the Invaders topped Australasian charts with 1964 single 'She's a Mod', Columbus spent time as a musician in America. The song was covered multiple times. He later returned to Aotearoa to resume a long career as recording artist, TV presenter and talent manager. Columbus passed away in late November 2016.
Ray Woolf’s career as a performer spans from rock’n’roll to jazz, including touring shows of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Sound of Music. Born in England, but New Zealand-based since the early 60s, Woolf’s television work includes singing, acting, and hosting his own talk show. He was New Zealand Entertainer of the Year in 1975.
Between 1975 and 1983, London-born variety artist Chic Littlewood entertained a generation of Kiwi kids, writing and presenting 500 plus episodes of his after school shows Now C Here, Chicaboom and Chic Chat — appearing with Alma Woods, puppet Willie McNabb, and as Gramps. In 1993 Littlewood enjoyed a primetime career revival, after starting a three year stint on Shortland Street. He passed away on 11 January 2015.
Bernie Allen, QSM, was a professional musician and teacher before beginning his TV career as musical director of popular 60s show C’mon. He continued on to Happen Inn, followed by a vast number of shows as composer or music director over the next two decades. His score for Hunter’s Gold won an APRA Silver Scroll; his arrangement of ‘Hine E Hine’ accompanied the classic Goodnight Kiwi animation.
Max Cryer’s career as an entertainer has encompassed singing on stage and screen, time in the United States, and pioneering live talk shows on television (Town Cryer). After a busy decade of TV 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.
In the late 1970s actor and singer Marcus Craig ( aka Diamond Lil) popularised the glittering world of drag for mainstream New Zealand. His hit cabaret act featured talents like Billy T James and Tina Cross; his duet with Fred Dagg made the pop charts. His television credits include satirical series Something to Look Forward to, various guest slots and the role of co-host on variety show Top of the World.