Wayne Leonard has directed some of the highest-rated live events on New Zealand television. Since leaving TVNZ in the early 2000s to go freelance, he has continued to be one of the country’s premiere live directors, and helmed TV series ranging from hit panel show Game of Two Halves to My Kitchen Rules. In 2013 his coverage of the America’s Cup in San Francisco was nominated for multiple Sports Emmy awards.
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.
The career of pioneering documentarian Bill Saunders began in the early days of New Zealand television. He went on to champion a fly on the wall documentary style and win Feltex Awards for acclaimed films on Moriori, and the elderly. Saunders was the final remaining member of TVNZ’s documentary unit when it was disbanded in 1988, and an outspoken advocate of public service broadcasting until his death in 1995.
Billy T James ranks as a key figure in the development of Kiwi comedy. Billy honed his talents as a singer and comedian on stages worldwide, then brought them to a local TV audience on throwback show Radio Times. His self-titled comedy show was a major ratings hit. His turn as the Tainuia kid in Came a Hot Friday is still fondly remembered — as is Billy T's infectious chuckle, black singlet and yellow towel.
Michele Fantl has been producing acclaimed documentaries, telemovies and features since the 1990s, often through her production company MF Films. Along the way she has worked extensively with writer/directors Stewart Main (50 Ways of Saying Fabulous), Garth Maxwell (When Love Comes) and Fiona Samuel (Bliss).
With the movie Savage Honeymoon and classic TV show Outrageous Fortune, Mark Beesley established himself as the man to call when dealing with rough and tumble families from West Auckland. Elsewhere the talented director and sometime producer has shown his gift for melding comedy and drama on The Almighty Johnsons, Insiders Guide to Happiness, and Xena: Warrior Princess.
The trio of documentaries surrounding the religious community of Gloriavale generated huge TV ratings. Amanda Evans is the director and producer behind this mini-TV phenomenon. In her 30 year career she has produced and/ or directed documentaries, reality series and iconic Kiwi kids and arts shows.
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.
Jane Wrightson is Chief Executive of Crown agency NZ On Air, which funds Kiwi television, digital media, radio and music. Prior to taking on the job in 2007, she spent a decade at Television New Zealand, was New Zealand's first woman Chief Film Censor, and headed both the Broadcasting Standards Authority and screen lobbying group SPADA.
Journalist Mark Jennings joined new channel TV3 in 1989, to set up its South Island news operation. After becoming TV3's news chief in 1995, he won wide respect as a calm hand, competing against TVNZ's bigger budgets and arguing that news presenters ought to have journalism experience. By the time his resignation was announced in 2016, Jennings had become one of the longest serving heads of news in NZ TV history.