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.
Throughout his 50 year career, John O’Shea was a pioneer and a champion of the independent New Zealand film industry. His name was synonymous with Pacific Film Productions, which he ran for over 20 years after Pacific founder Roger Mirams left for Australia. O’Shea was involved in the establishment of the New Zealand Film Commission, Ngā Taonga and the Wellington Film Society.
Barry Barclay — director of landmark TV series Tangata Whenua and feature film Ngati — was a longtime campaigner for the right of indigenous people to tell their own stories, to their own people. In 2004 he was made an Arts Foundation Laureate, and in 2007 a Member of the NZ Order of Merit. Barclay passed away on 19 February 2008, after publishing his acclaimed book Mana Tuturu.
Writer and comedian Jon Gadsby, QSM, likely spent more time being funny on NZ television screens than almost anyone — aside perhaps from his longtime partner in crime, David McPhail. After appearing together on breakthrough comedy show A Week of It, the two helped form the comic backbone of the long-running McPhail and Gadsby, satirical show Issues, and the outdoor escapades of Letter to Blanchy.
Chris Harrington began in local television in 1976, reporting and producing current affairs and news. Highlights of his career include award-winning Sunday stories about allegations of police pack rape by Louise Nicholas, and another on treatment of Porirua Hospital inmates. In 1989 he was awarded a QSM for services to journalism. In 2007 Harrington moved into private production and public relations.
Brian Kassler started his career building sets for theatre and film, then worked as a camera grip on a host of New Zealand features. In the mid 80s he started supplying film equipment to local crews, before launching successful production company Flying Fish with Lee Tamahori. Today he fronts Showtools, a film production website.
Being a big man with a “face like the map of Ireland” made him an unlikely starter, but in the mid-70s Glyn Tucker was one of New Zealand’s best known screen personalities. The larger-than-life character was a racing guru, and also a popular radio then TV presenter: his television roles ranged across sports commentator, punting pundit, crooner and light entertainment show host.
Impressed by untapped Polynesian talent, Levin-based filmmaker collaborated on a trio of pioneering films that put young Polynesians and Māori centre-frame: Kingi's Story, Kingpin, and award-winning telemovie Mark II. Walker passed away in late 2004.
Actor Frank Whitten first won attention in 1984, playing the enigmatic farmer in Vincent Ward's breakthrough feature Vigil. Later he was known to many for his role as the Southern Man in the Speights "onya mate" commercials, and his ongoing appearances in Outrageous Fortune, playing the manipulative grandfather to the West clan. He died in February 2011.
Geoff Jamieson was working as a mechanic in Queenstown when he was asked to help out on landmark 70s television series Hunters's Gold. So began a busy career as a camera grip on a run of classic TV dramas, as well as the ambitious shoots for movies The Quiet Earth and The Piano. Jamieson passed away on 24 May 2016.