Hone Kouka studied English Literature at Otago University, then acting at Toi Whakaari. A leading figure in Māori theatre, Kouka is an acclaimed playwright (including The Prophet, which was filmed for TV in 2012). He has also written for the screen; he studied screenwriting at Amsterdam's Binger Institute, and co-wrote dance movie Born to Dance and NZ TV Award-winning Treaty of Waitangi drama Ngā Tohu: Signatures. In the mid 2000s Kouka executive produced a run of successful short films (Nature’s Way, Run) and worked in development at the NZ Film Commission, advising on films like Boy and The Orator.
Rūātoki-raised Reuben Collier cut his screen teeth reporting on Waka Huia. In 2001 he founded Maui TV Productions in Rotorua. Collier's producing and directing credits include Marae, Matatini coverage, award-winning documentary Sciascia, and long-running food show Kai Time on the Road. in 2017 Collier was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the television industry and Māori.
Tainui Stephens is a Kiwi screen taonga. Since joining Koha as a reporter in 1984, he has brought many Māori stories to television, and worked on everything from Marae to Māori Television's version of It's in the Bag. Among the notable documentaries he has directed are Māori Battalion doco March to Victory and award-winning show The New Zealand Wars. He was a producer on Vincent Ward film Rain of the Children.
Libby Hakaraia has an overflowing kete of credits, covering subjects from Fat Freddy’s Drop to Apirana Ngata, Anzac Day to Anne Salmond. The ex-radio journalist had a screen apprenticeship at Kiwa Productions, where she made many docos on Māori themes. Based in Otaki, she now produces shows with partner Tainui Stephens under the Blue Bach banner, including the popular Māori Television reboot of It’s in the Bag.
The son of legendary Pacific Films producer John O’Shea, Rory O’Shea made his mark as a camera operator and lighting cameraman of sensitivity and skill. His artistically-composed images complemented and enhanced the vision of key collaborators like directors Tony Williams and Barry Barclay.
Whai Ngata worked in Māori broadcasting at Television New Zealand for 25 years, a period when the quantity of Māori broadcasting underwent a major expansion. Starting as a reporter, he rose to become TVNZ's general manager of Māori Programming, a post he held from 1994 until retiring in 2008. Ngata was named an Officer of the Order of New Zealand Merit in 2007. He passed away on 3 April 2016.
Tom Finlayson has worked in television in almost every capacity: as a reporter and producer in the cauldron of daily news, developing and producing classic drama shows (Under the Mountain, Mortimer's Patch) and movies, directing documentaries (The Party's Over) — as well as commissioning programmes, during a three year stint as TVNZ’s Director of Production.
Actor Matariki Whatarau has appeared on screens both big (co-starring as reggae musician Tau, in road movie The Pā Boys) and small (Go Girls). In 2015 he began playing a metrosexual Māori accountant out of touch with his culture, in acclaimed TV comedy Find Me a Māori Bride. He went on to portray Exponents bassist Dave Gent in TV movie Why Does Love? The award-winning theatre actor (I, George Nepia) trained at drama school Toi Whakaari. Also a singer, Whatarau has made screen appearances as part of The Modern Māori Quartet, including co-hosting TV's My Party Song. He presented 2015's My Reggae Song.
Marcia Russell, OBE, blazed a trail for women working in print and screen journalism. Her TV work ranged from reporting and documentary making, to Beauty and the Beast panelist, and a key role in the creation of TV3. She was behind the award-winning Revolution series (surveying 80s Labour government reforms), and contributed to major series Landmarks and The New Zealand Wars. Russell died on 1 December 2012.
Not to be confused with the newsreader of the same name, Richard S Long has had a prolific career as a cameraman and director. Since starting out in 1977, he’s shot news, run his own production company, and worked abroad, directing commercials and music videos in Asia and the US. In 2015 Long directed his debut feature Not For Children.