Ruth Harley has been a leader and change agent across 30 years in the screen industry. She was commissioning editor at TVNZ, then the first Executive Director of NZ On Air. From 1997 she spent a decade as CEO of the NZ Film Commission, then crossed the Tasman to head the newly created Screen Australia for five years. In 1997 Harley was awarded an OBE, and in 2006 was named a CNZM.
Though Pamela Meekings-Stewart's work as a producer and director ranges widely, she has often been drawn to documentaries involving women and the arts. Her Feltex award-winning series Pioneer Women dramatised the lives of six women, from Princess Te Puea to Ettie Rout. These days she runs retreats from her farm in Pukerua Bay. Meekings-Stewart is sometimes credited as Pamela Jones.
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.
Scots-born Erik Thomson moved to New Zealand at age seven. In the mid 90s his career took off, after he began acting in Australia. In 2004 he won an AFI award for feature Somersault, then later starred in Aussie TV hit Packed to the Rafters and NZ drama/comedy We're Here to Help. In 2016 Thomson won a Best Actor Logie for his role in TV series 800 Words, as an Australian widower who moves his family to NZ.
Phillipa Dann’s work presenting music shows has taken her from 80s-era series Shazam! to MTV Europe. Dann studied English Literature and acted in series Pioneer Women, before winning a break fronting youth show Viewfinder. In 1986 she departed for a UK screen OE with husband Brent Hansen, before going on to present a run of shows for MTV Europe and VH1.
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.
Jane Wrightson spent 12 years as Chief Executive of Crown agency NZ On Air, which funds Kiwi television, digital media, radio and music. Prior to starting at NZ On Air in 2007, she spent a decade at TVNZ, was New Zealand's first woman Chief Film Censor, and headed both the Broadcasting Standards Authority and screen lobbying group SPADA. Wrightson became the Retirement Commissioner in February 2020.
The late Hone Tūwhare (1922-2008) remains one of New Zealand's most loved and respected poets. Tūwhare has been the subject of numerous documentaries. He also wrote short stories and plays, and the drama Eel for anthology television series E Tipu e Rea. Tuwhare died on 16 January 2008 in Dunedin.
Derek Morton is one of those happily unsung industry all-rounders who has tried a little of everything: from documentaries and children's TV to underground films, doing time as a cameraman, editor, writer, producer and director (from commercials and docos, to trucking drama Roche), as well as running his own production company.
During seven years playing Shortland Street party girl Toni Warner, Laura Hill survived miscarriage, murder attempts and romance with Chris and Guy Warner, before death from kidney failure in mid 2008. Hill, who moved to NZ aged five, is daughter of UK actor Helena Ross. At Victoria University she got first class honours in English literature; her many stage roles include starring as Jane Eyre at Dunedin's Fortune Theatre.