Spending 13 years in one job is a very long time these days, so imagine the pressure of commissioning TVNZ shows for all that time. Kathryn Graham did just that across a diverse portfolio of programmes. The former television director was TVNZ's first Commissioning Editor of Māori and Pacific content, and the first Kaikotuitui Rangapu (Programme Commissioner) at Māori Television.
One of NZ’s most experienced and prolific TV producers, Ross Jennings cut his teeth at Avalon in the late 1970s on dramas like Close to Home and Moynihan. After stints as Head of Drama at TVNZ and at Crawfords in Melbourne, he began a long association with Screentime Communicado where he created early reality TV series Middlemore, and Police 10-7. Jennings passed away on 25 March 2016.
In a television career spanning more than 25 years, Erina Tamepo has produced a wide variety of shows, many from her time as an in-house producer for Māori Television. Among Tamepo’s credits is popular Friday night karaoke competition series Homai Te Pakipaki — which ran for nine years — and Willie Jackson’s Newsbites, which was nominated for a Qantas Award for Best Current Affairs Series in 2010.
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.
Twenty-five plus years spent working in Māori tourism proved valuable when Karen Te O Kahurangi Waaka-Tibble moved into television production. The Rotorua local was used to managing people and events, so making TV shows was a natural fit. Now general manager for Kura Productions, Waaka-Tibble has produced nine seasons of children's te reo show Pūkoro, and was line producer on movie Mt Zion.
Known for his many live tours as a poet, debater and speaker, Kiwi legend Gary McCormick has made a host of appearances on New Zealand television. His work on the talk show McCormick and long-running series Heartland helped make him television's most popular presenter in a 1999 newspaper poll.
Moana Maniapoto (MNZM) is a musician acclaimed for fusing traditional Māori and modern sounds (Moana and the Moahunters, Moana and the Tribe). With partner Toby Mills she has made award-winning films exploring Te Ao Māori, from cultural IP to activist Syd Jackson. Maniapoto has also appeared onscreen as a political commentator, fronted 90s kids show Yahoo, and played Doctor Aniwa Ryan on Shortland Street.
Kingi Ihaka would spend time as an SAS soldier — New Zealand’s youngest at the time, at just 19 — freezing worker, policeman, and prison guard, before venturing into broadcasting. Ihaka was first approached by Whai Ngata to work on new series Waka Huia in 1987, and interview Māori elders to preserve their stories. He would later become a Programme Commissioner and Cultural Advisor for Māori Television, until finally stepping down from broadcasting in 2009; he remained a member of the station's Kaunihera Kaumatua, its Elder’s Council. Kingi Ihaka passed away on 17 January 2017. He was 74.
Julian Arahanga shot into the public eye in 1994's Once Were Warriors, playing the son who becomes a gang-member. He followed it with a starring role in cross-cultural romance Broken English. Since then Arahanga has continued a prolific career working in front of, and increasingly behind the camera - including as producer and director on Māori Television series Songs from the Inside.
Quinton Hita's broadcasting career has included stints as DJ, writer, actor and producer. His abilities in te reo first took Hita to radio, then a gig co-presenting TV's Mai Time. He went on to act in Crooked Earth and Shortland Street, where he also did time as a writer and Māori script editor. These days head of Kura Productions, Hita has produced many shows for Māori Television — plus his first feature, reggae tale Mt Zion.