A self taught stargazer, Peter Read’s passion for astronomy coincided with a budding television industry and the beginning of manned spaceflight. His programme, Night Sky, played in primetime from 1964; and his avuncular style inspired New Zealanders to look at the stars. It was the country’s longest running TV show when it was cancelled in 1974, and he was the longest serving presenter. Peter Read died in 1981.
In the course of a 32-year career, Rod Cornelius experienced seismic changes within New Zealand’s television industry firsthand. From his first job with the NZ Broadcasting Corporation through the turbulent remakings of state television in the late 80s and 90s, Cornelius held several key management roles — including TVNZ Controller of Programming and Managing Director of Avalon Studios.
Dunedin businessman and artist, Fred O’Neill, whose hobby of making quirky animated films brought him international recognition, sent his Plasticine hero to Venus thirty years before Nick Park got Wallace and Gromit to the Moon. O’Neill’s films encouraged children not to take up smoking, brought Māori legends to the screen in a novel way, and entertained young viewers in the early years of New Zealand television. Image credit: Stills Collection, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. Courtesy of the Fred O'Neill collection.
Mairi Gunn began working in the camera department in the mid 80s. Since then she has shot music videos (including Outer Space for The 3Ds), short films, and the feature-length Gravity & Grace (directed by Chris Kraus). Gunn shot and co-produced award-winning documentary Restoring the Mauri of Lake Omapere, looking at the history and future of a Northland lake.
A Diploma in Broadcast Communication led Sam Blackley to a gig with high profile company Communicado, then a run producing youth shows Space, Squeeze, and Coast. Her other career highlights include three years as Channel Manager at Sky TV’s Documentary Channel, and five seasons producing community celebration series Neighbourhood.
When he left Shortland Street in 2005 after 14 years and 3100 episodes, Karl Burnett was the soap's longest-serving cast member. His oft comical character Nick Harrison stole many scenes, romanced at least eight Shortland characters, and memorably watched as long-time love Waverley Wilson was kidnapped. Post-Shortland, Burnett has worked on and off camera, directed low budget film Captain Amazingly Incredible and the Space Vampires from the Evil Planet, and reported on video games for 2003 show Screenshot. In 2019 he won headlines, after withdrawing from TV's Celebrity Treasure Island.
After training at Auckland's South Seas Film and Television School in 1999, James Anderson began working on music shows Squeeze and Space, and became a cameraman and editor on both. After arts series The Living Room and time working on music documentaries in the UK, he returned to Aotearoa and set up company Two Heads, with Nick Ward. Anderson went on to direct globe-spanning music show Making Tracks, and a number of high profile commercials. He was also AFTA-nominated for primetime hit Food Truck. These days Anderson is a freelance director in the United States.
Advertising veteran Jonathan Gunson stepped into TV shows en route to books and the internet. After writing a children's book in 1985, he created futuristic kids series Space Knights and sci fi series The Boy from Andromeda. Then came internationally bestselling puzzle book The Merlin Mystery, offering readers a 75,000 pound prize. After work in internet marketing, Gunson launched his own blog for wannabe writers.
Described by New Zealand Geographic as the "doyen of New Zealand diving", Wade Doak was an author, marine ecologist and conservationist. Along with Kelly Tarlton he was a pioneer of underwater exploration and filming in Aotearoa. Behind and in front of the camera, he contributed to documentaries for Wild South and production company NHNZ, and showcased Aotearoa’s undersea world to wide audiences.
Simone Horrocks was roughly six when her father dragged her out of bed for a sneak preview of 2001: A Space Odyssey. She was totally transfixed. After studying film in London, Horrocks worked as a camera assistant, before her 1996 short Spindrift won a prize at the Berlin Film Festival. Her feature debut is “brooding, intense” (NZ Herald) drama After the Waterfall, featuring Anthony Starr.