Michael King was widely recognized as a leading chronicler of Aotearoa and its people. King wrote over 30 books, ranging from Māori culture to the bestselling The Penguin History of New Zealand. In 1974 he presented landmark documentary series Tangata Whenua. Later his books fuelled documentaries about writers Frank Sargeson and Janet Frame, while King himself was the subject of 2004's The History Man.
Should Clive Sowry ever choose to enter Mastermind, his knowledge of the National Film Unit will give his competitors a definite run for their money. Sowry worked at the government filmmaking organisation for 14 years, including nine as the NFU's archivist. He went on to undertake a programme that saved 100s of local films, and has written often about filmmaking in New Zealand — including for NZ On Screen.
Peter Wells broke ground as one of the first New Zealanders to tell gay stories on-screen. Aside from his work as an author, he explored gay and historical themes in several acclaimed drama and documentaries — including pioneering TV drama A Death in the Family, colourful big screen melodrama Desperate Remedies and Georgina Beyer documentary Georgie Girl. Wells died on 18 February 2019.
Starring one cow and two elderly guitarists, Michael Bennett's first short film Cow was invited to screen at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. Since then he has written and/or directed a wide range of projects, from children's television (Kaitangata Twitch) to award-winning shows about Māori architecture (Whare Māori). His feature film work includes ensemble feature Matariki, and the script for Cliff Curtis comedy Jubilee.
Two of Andrew Bancroft’s early short films won awards — science fiction tale Planet Man was the first New Zealand short to win the Critic's Week section at the Cannes Film Festival. Aside from his own shorts and a run of arts documentaries for television, Bancroft has also helped develop a successful slate of short films for other directors.
Antony Starr has won multiple awards for being sly and idiotic at the same time, playing twin brothers on TV's Outrageous Fortune: gormless Van and cynical lawyer Jethro. The roles are distant cousins to an earlier part on Mercy Peak. A starring turn as a sheriff with a secret in Alan (True Blood) Ball’s US TV series Banshee, followed big-screen roles in drama After the Waterfall and Australian thriller Wish You Were Here.
Sometimes referred to as the Godfather of New Zealand music TV, Kevan Moore was behind some of the iconic entertainment shows (Let's Go, C'mon) of the 1960s and 70s. Joining television at its birth, Moore was also responsible for shaping early current affairs content (eg Town and Around), and devising popular astronomy show The Night Sky.
Self-taught editor Cushla Dillon moved from shorter works to features with Harry Sinclair's Topless Women Talk about their Lives: both the bite-sized TV series then the movie, for which she won her first NZ film award. Dillon has gone on to edit shorts, documentaries, and many more features — including The Price of Milk, Orphans & Kingdoms, and award-winning documentary This Way of Life.
Margaret Mahy was a renowned author of children's books who also wrote for television. Amongst her many international awards is the Hans Christian Andersen Award (known as the Little Nobel Prize) for a "lasting contribution to children's literature". A highly visual writer, Mahy both wrote for the screen (Maddigan's Quest, Strangers), and her books inspired a number of programmes. She passed away on 23 July 2012.
Pioneering TV programmer Bettina Hollings can list the launch of Shortland Street and being the first female to head a major local television network among her credits. In 2000, she ‘jumped fence’ and formed Imagination Television. The company is responsible for making some of NZ’s most popular shows, including MasterChef New Zealand, New Zealand’s Got Talent and Grand Designs New Zealand.