Simon Mark-Brown began his screen career in 1987, buying props for TV commercials. He worked his way up to set dressing and art directing for adverts and feature films, including Ruby and Rata and The Footstep Man. In 1990, Mark-Brown set up his own production company, Republic Films, where he directed hundreds of commercials. His first short film Going Down followed in 1995. Later he made two feature-length documentaries about musicians: The Secret Life of John Rowles and The Sun Came Out. His first feature The Catch was released in 2017. Two years later he co-directed wine doco A Seat at the Table.
Since joining state television as a sound operator in the 60s, Ron Pledger has gone on to win a reputation for his assured coverage of a wide range of live events, from concerts to This is Your Life to the state funeral of Sir Edmund Hillary. A life long music lover, Pledger was awarded an MBE in 1992, helping recognise 40 years of service in a military band.
Billy T James ranks as a key figure in the development of Kiwi comedy. Billy honed his talents as a singer and comedian on stages worldwide, then brought them to a local TV audience on throwback show Radio Times. His self-titled comedy show was a major ratings hit. His turn as the Tainuia kid in Came a Hot Friday is still fondly remembered — as is Billy T's infectious chuckle, black singlet and yellow towel.
Producer Julia Parnell’s CV boasts a diverse range of credits — from comedy (Wayne Anderson: Singer of Songs) to sport (Wilbur: The King in the Ring), music (The Chills - The Triumph & Tragedy of Martin Phillipps) and te ao Māori (Restoring Hope). Parnell’s production company Notable Pictures is behind a run of award-winning short films (Dive, Friday Tigers), plus long-running mini-documentary series Loading Docs.
Orlando Stewart has appeared in various mockumentary series (including Wayne Anderson) as a reporter, talent manager, and 'marketing director', handing out pizza flyers in Pakuranga. As he says, “it’s kind of fun blurring the lines between yourself and a character”. Stewart wrote and starred in oddball series Rural Drift, and acted in short film The Dump, which he also produced. Later he directed documentary Sonics from Scratch with Simon Ogston, which screened at the 2015 New Zealand Film Festival. The film explores the life and work of experimental artist Philip Dadson.
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.
The multitalented Hinewehi Mohi, MNZM, is arguably best known for a single moment from her musical career — singing the national anthem in te reo at a 1999 rugby game. After getting a Bachelor of Arts at Waikato University in 1985, Mohi jumped into reporting for primetime Māori slot Koha. In 2004 she set up Raukatauri Productions, and launched long-running waiata programme Moteatea. It was nominated for two screen awards. Her TV work also includes producing Marae DIY and Matariki Awards coverage, and directing a documentary on Merata Mita. In 2016 Women in Film and Televison named her Te Reo Māori Champion.
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.
Comedian, actor and singer Pio Terei, MNZM has shown his talents across a host of TV shows — from comedy (Pio!, Pete and Pio! , The Life and Times of Te Tutu ) and variety (Big Night In), to fishing (the long-running Tangaroa with Pio) and food shows (Pete and Pio's Kai Safari). Twice judged best comedy performer at the NZ Film Awards, Pio has also acted in Toa Fraser drama No. 2, and written and acted for anthology series Mataku. In 2009, he took over presenting duties on iconic quiz show It's in the Bag. Later he set off through Aotearoa on foot, for two seasons of Māori TV series Te Araroa: Tales from the Trails.
Neil Stichbury trained as a photographer. After a short stint directing for TV3 and Communicado, he began a busy decade making commercials with Republic Films partner Simon Mark Brown. His partnership with director Luke Nola resulted in a run of kids shows, including Let’s Get Inventin’, whose escapades spawned multiple seasons and overseas sales. Stichbury is now developing further screen projects.