Libby Hakaraia has an overflowing kete of credits, covering subjects from Fat Freddy’s Drop to Apirana Ngata, Anzac Day to Anne Salmond. The ex-radio journalist had a screen apprenticeship at Kiwa Productions, where she made many docos on Māori themes. Based in Otaki, she now produces shows with partner Tainui Stephens under the Blue Bach banner, including the popular Māori Television reboot of It’s in the Bag.
The multi-talented Jackie van Beek emerged from Wellington’s 90s theatre scene. After directing a run of award-winning shorts, her first feature The Inland Road was invited to the 2017 Berlin Film Festival. She went on to co-direct, co-write and co-star in comedy The Breaker Upperers, with Madeleine Sami. As an actor, van Beek is probably best known for her role in What We Do in the Shadows, as a vampire groupie.
Jeremy ‘Newsboy' Wells came to fame as sidekick to Mikey Havoc on a series of joyously silly radio and TV shows. In 2003 Wells began presenting seven seasons of satirical show Eating Media Lunch. He later brought his wry presenting style — dial turned to 'deadpan' — to The Unauthorised History of New Zealand and Birdland. In 2018 he joined Hilary Barry as co-host of primetime show Seven Sharp.
Popular and idiosyncratic radio and TV host Marcus Lush chronicled his love affair with the railways on high-rating series Off the Rails, which won him an award for best presenter at the 2006 NZ Screen Awards. Lush followed it with Ice, which saw him spending time in Antarctica, before making further Kiwi excursions South and North.
Tim Balme burst onto the big screen as the hapless young man fighting off zombies with lawnmowers, in Peter Jackson's Braindead. He went on to roles on TV's Mercy Peak, Shortland Street and Maddigan's Quest, alongside gigs as a writer (Outrageous Fortune) and time as Head of Development for South Pacific Pictures.
Tainui Stephens is a Kiwi screen taonga. Since joining Koha as a reporter in 1984, he has brought many Māori stories to television, and worked on everything from Marae to Māori Television's version of It's in the Bag. Among the notable documentaries he has directed are Māori Battalion doco March to Victory and award-winning show The New Zealand Wars. He was a producer on Vincent Ward film Rain of the Children.
Auckland-born Jay Laga’aia is the proverbial man of many talents. A busy trans-Tasman career as actor/performer has seen him performing on stage (The Lion King) and screen (Street Legal, Water Rats, Star Wars).
Aaron Watson's career path has been anything but dull. He's acted in children's television programmes (eg InFocus and Oi), performed at the 1996 Edinburgh Festival Fringe with his friend Duncan Sarkies, and spent 14 years as a tour guide in Russia and Central Europe. Dunedin-raised, Watson turned to producing in 2011, working with friend Jackie van Beek on short films In Safe Hands (a 2012 NZ Film Award winner) and Go the Dogs (2012 Berlin Film Festival). In 2017 the pair released their first feature film The Inland Road. Watson has gone on to produce feature comedy This Town, from Wellington filmmaker David White.