John Bates is a documentary director whose low profile and natural modesty belies his talent. His award-winning documentaries range across many iconic New Zealand people and events, including the 1951 waterfront dispute, the 1975 Māori Land March, late photographer Robin Morrison, and the history of television itself.
Surely the most famous comedian to rise from West Auckland, Ewen Gilmour won the first Billy T award in 1997, and a devoted following. The longtime petrolhead had begun making regular appearances on TV show Pulp Comedy in the mid 90s; there would also be live performances in Paris, Ireland, Montreal, and across the length of New Zealand. Gilmour passed away in his sleep in early October 2014.
Derek Wooster is a veteran producer, director, reporter and writer who made milestone mainstream and Māori programming — from Mastermind to Marae — throughout his 30-year career with Television New Zealand. As well as creating and producing the country's longest running Māori current affairs series, Wooster has worked on significant national broadcasts including the tangihanga of Dame Whina Cooper and the Māori Queen.
Rima Te Wiata's career has seen her showcasing her diverse talents as an actor (Housebound, Hunt for the Wilderpeople), comedian and impressionist (More Issues), and singer (Little Shop of Horrors) — sometimes all at the same time. In 2017 she was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit for her work on screen.
From a turbulent beginning in Auckland, self-styled adventurer and traveller Shayle Gardner was regularly employed on the British stage, and managed NZ troops’ entertainment during World War I. He also played his part in UK silent film history, starring in Comin’ thro' the Rye and The Three Passions. Gardner also had a short, tantalising stay in Hollywood; but in the end he came to rest in the place of his birth.Image credit: Alexander Turnbull Library, Eph-A-DRAMA-1922-01 (Detail)
Kevin Smith was the multi-talented actor who appeared in a host of television shows, starting with eighties soap Gloss. He also starred in three tele-movies as maverick private investigator John Lawless. His feature films include period melodrama Desperate Remedies, and offbeat drama Channelling Baby.