The name Phillip Leishman is synonymous with sports broadcasting in New Zealand. Over a four decade career he presented sports news and major events from the Olympics to rugby tests, plus a globally-syndicated golf show. He also branched out into popular quiz shows and entertainment specials (notably Wheel of Fortune). Leishman died on 25 February 2013, after a battle with cancer. He was 61.
Ernie Leonard spent time as a soldier, a railways clerk and public relations officer. His first television job was as an actor on Pukemanu, and he became a household name co-presenting wrestling show On the Mat. In 1986 Leonard became the first head of TVNZ's Māori Programmes Department. When he retired, a search of the TVNZ Archives database yielded 38,000 references to him or programmes he'd been associated with.
Karen Olsen’s work as a meteorologist and weather reporter has seen her stationed on sub-tropical Raoul Island and presenting from the blistering cold of an Antarctic winter. After 21 years reporting the weather on TV One News, often alongside much loved weatherman Jim Hickey, Olsen left TVNZ in November 2015.
Putting on magic and Punch and Judy shows as a child led Michael Woolf to a career as a broadcaster and performer. After joining the NZ Broadcasting Service he became an announcer, presenting TV in Wellington in the 60s and performing the country’s first televised puppet show. As an actor he appeared in Goodbye Pork Pie, and played a villain in Rangi’s Catch.
Actor John Tui grew up in Manurewa, the oldest of eight siblings. After training at Unitec, he got a break on Power Rangers and has since scored regular NZ TV work including recurring roles on Go Girls and Shortland Street. On the big screen he plays father to the main character in 2015's Born to Dance, and was US Navy officer Walter ‘The Beast’ Lynch alongside Rihanna, in Hollywood film Battleship.
Amanda Millar is one of New Zealand's most experienced and awarded television journalists. Millar has reported on many high profile 60 Minutes and 20/20 stories, including stories on former police Assistant Commissioner Clint Rickards, 'Parnell Panther' Mark Stephens, and disgraced Christchurch GP Morgan Fahey. In 2018 she directed her debut feature Celia, about social justice advocate Celia Lashlie.
Gareth Farr is recognised as a leading composer of contemporary music in New Zealand. Farr has many personas; composer for screen and stage, percussionist, and percussive drag artiste Lilith LaCroix. In 2006 Farr was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit.
Dunedin-born actor Colin Tapley found character parts gave his movie career longevity. Tapley argued that the average time for a leading man in 1930s Hollywood was seven years. He played supporting roles in pre-World War II Hollywood films, and after the war extended his career into the late 60s with performances in British movies and TV. His best remembered film is 1955 classic The Dam Busters.
Max Cryer’s career as an entertainer has encompassed pioneering live talk shows (Town Cryer), singing on stage and screen, and extended time in the United States. After a busy decade of television presenting beginning in the late 60s, Cryer went behind the scenes to produce a clutch of quiz shows —before a late flowering as a prolific, bestselling author, exploring his love of words and Kiwi culture.
Leanne Saunders’ eye for talent has resulted in producer credits on six features: box office hits Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Born to Dance, Nazi horror The Devil’s Rock, and dramas Desert, The Weight of Elephants and Christmas. She also executive produced a run of successful shorts. In 2016 Saunders was appointed Head of Production and Development at the NZ Film Commission.