Rowley Habib — also known as Rore Hapipi — was one of the first writers to bring a genuinely Māori perspective to New Zealand stage and screen. His play Death of the Land is seen as a landmark in the development of Māori theatre. In 1983 Habib won a Feltex Award for land rights drama The Protestors, part of a trio of pioneering one-off plays for television. Habib passed away on 3 April 2016.
Don Selwyn, ONZM, was an actor, casting director and mentor to a host of talented Māori who went on to work in film and television. Selwyn’s long acting resume includes 1970s historical epic The Governor and police show Mortimer’s Patch. He also directed The Māori Merchant of Venice, the first feature film in te reo Māori.
Tama Poata's wide-ranging contributions to our culture can be glimpsed through his appearances on-screen: from campaigns for Māori land rights (in 1975 doco Te Matakite O Aotearoa) and against the Springbok tour (Patu!), to his many acting roles. He also directed documentaries and wrote landmark 1987 movie Ngati, the first feature written (and directed) by Māori.
Fred Renata jumped from electrical engineering into film, after joining the camera crew on Merata Mita's only dramatic feature, Mauri (1987). After helping out on landmark Māori drama series E Tipu e Rea, he later shot his first feature, Magik and Rose (1999). Since then his work as a cinematographer has ranged widely — from music videos and adverts, to hit TV shows 800 Words and Being Eve, to successful movie Mt Zion. Renata has also shot many documentaries (Poi E, Herbs - Songs of Freedom, Hotere), often with Māori themes. In 2003 he won an NZ Television Award, for his work on drama series Street Legal.
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.
Faifua Amiga won acclaim with Kingpin - his first film role - at the age of 14. Four years later, he took centre stage in the Samoan feature film Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree.
Following small parts on television, Peter Kaa won a trio of choice screen roles: an episode of breakthrough Māori drama series E Tipu e Rea (1989), sketch comedy show Away Laughing, and a central role in Barry Barclay's second feature, Te Rua. Kaa played a poet and activist fighting to return Māori carvings from a German museum. Four years later he got another big role in mini-series Savage Play, as a member of the New Zealand Natives rugby team which toured Great Britain in 1988. Kaa went on to direct plays for Māori theatre company Taki Rua, and act in Shortland Street and anthology series Mataku.
One of many talents to emerge from legendary Wellington company Pacific Films in the 1970s, Mike Hardcastle was often behind the camera during the renaissance of Kiwi feature films. Then he took a break and returned to the industry as the man who could not only shoot your project, but edit it too. Hardcastle passed away on 24 August 2016.
Co-creator of anthology series Mataku, Bradford Haami is a producer, director and scriptwriter as well as an author, lecturer and Māori historian. His passion for storytelling and expertise in Māori culture has seen him work on television productions and act as a consultant to numerous local and international drama, documentary and features over the past two decades.
Tony Isaac played a major hand in creating some of the key TV dramas of 1970s Kiwi television. He produced New Zealand's first continuing television drama Pukemanu, co-created Close to Home, our first soap, and was one of the main forces behind The Governor, arguably the most ambitious TV drama yet made on New Zealand soil. Isaac passed away in May 1986.