Olly Ohlson is a pioneer of Māori language and Māori content on local television. As longtime presenter on daily children's show After School, his catchphrase “Keep cool till after school” (with accompanying sign language) was known to a generation of New Zealanders.
Tania Simon spent four years as co-host of Takatāpui, the world’s first television show aimed at indigenous gay, lesbian and transgender viewers. Her acting resume includes Shortland Street and the starring role in 1993 short Peach, opposite Lucy Lawless. Simon is also a longtime sign language interpreter who has interpreted on TV; in 2009 she directed documentary He Māori He Turi, about NZ’s 110,000 Māori deaf.
Award-winning journalist Mihingarangi Forbes has spent 20+ years working in television, reporting in both te reo and English. Feilding-raised Forbes began her career as an intern on Te Karere, before moving to One News, Campbell Live, 20/20 and Native Affairs. She resigned from Māori Television in 2015, claiming she'd lost control over her stories, and began presenting Three's new current affairs show The Hui in 2016.
The idea that New Zealanders often take for granted the depth of talent in the local screen industry is well illustrated by the career of Flux Animation founder Brent Chambers. Most Kiwis would have seen at least one example of his prolific output, yet few would be able to put a face or a name to his work. Chambers was tireless in building a competitive and viable international business, with a distinct local identity.
Described by author Emma Jean Kelly as a flamboyant "champion of New Zealand culture", Jonathan Dennis was the founding director of The Film Archive in 1981 and led the organisation into a bicultural era. Dennis, who headed the Film Archive for nine years, was praised for making films more accessible. He also made documentaries (Mouth Wide Open, Mana Waka) and presented Radio New Zealand's Film Show.
Ruth Harley has been a leader and change agent across 30 years in the screen industry. She was commissioning editor at TVNZ, then the first Executive Director of NZ On Air. From 1997 she spent a decade as CEO of the NZ Film Commission, then crossed the Tasman to head the newly created Screen Australia for five years. In 1997 Harley was awarded an OBE, and in 2006 was named a CNZM.
Joel Haines has composed screen music for over two decades, including soundtracks for TV shows Outrageous Fortune, Westside, The Brokenwood Mysteries and Mercy Peak— plus movies This Way of Life and After the Waterfall. Haines has also created themes for dozens of high profile brands (Air New Zealand, McDonald's), and channel music for TV2, Māori Television, and Sky Sports.