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.
From a career in print journalism and public relations that began in his teens, Gordon Dryden became a familiar face on New Zealand television in the mid 70s. Earning himself a reputation as a tough interviewer, Dryden hosted coverage of the 1975 election before presenting Friday Conference. A 1991 TV series on education would lead to book The Learning Revolution, which sold in the millions.
Barry Jenkin spent three years as the inaugural host of Radio with Pictures, the long-running TV show that demonstrated life existed outside the musical mainstream. Aside from talking music on radio and TV, the veteran DJ’s distinctively gravelly voice has been heard on documentaries and many commercials.
John Carlaw's directing career spanned four decades. During 23 years in England, he directed for the BBC and Channel 4, and on high profile ITV arts slot The South Bank Show. Shortly before starting over in New Zealand, Carlaw was nominated for a Cable Television award for Edgar Allen Poe adaptation The Tell-Tale Heart, starring stage legend Steven Berkoff. Carlaw's Kiwi work was almost exclusively in documentary, including docos on Michael King and Ian Mune. He won more awards for Edmund Hillary series View from the Top and Revolution, which chronicled the Rogernomics era. Carlaw passed away on 29 May 2017.
Composer Stephen McCurdy's screen music has crossed the gamut — from jazz, chamber pieces, rock, and pop, to the faux Peggy Lee song which opened each episode of 80s soap Gloss. McCurdy won NZ Film Awards for his scores to Came a Hot Friday and The End of the Golden Weather.
Although he may not be keen to do so, Bill Toepfer can claim a place in global television history as the man behind the Popstars reality TV juggernaut. Toepfer has enjoyed a long and accomplished career in New Zealand television, editing and producing hundreds of hours of documentaries and TV specials.
Ian Fraser made his name in the late 70s as one of New Zealand’s most respected interviewers, facing off against everyone from Robert Muldoon to the Shah of Iran. In 2002, after time spent in public relations and as head of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, he returned to Television New Zealand — this time as its chief executive.
Canadian-born New Zealand director Leanne Pooley has won a raft of awards for her work as a documentary filmmaker. The 2011 Arts Laureate's films include hit Topp Twins movie Untouchable Girls, 3D Everest first ascent saga Beyond the Edge, and euthanasia exploration The Promise. In 2015 her film 25 April, an animated feature about Gallipoli, was selected for the Toronto International Film Festival.
Makerita Urale grew up in her father's village in Samoa, before the family emigrated down under. She has gone on to bring a Pasifika voice to plays (the acclaimed Frangipani Perfume), museum exhibits, and documentaries. In 1995 Urale wrote Samoans-down under drama 'The Hibiscus' for TV's Tala Pasifika. Since then, the one time RNZ journalist has directed documentaries on Samoan tattooing (Savage Symbols), gangs (Gang Girls), and Kiwi activists (Qantas award-winner Children of the Revolution). In 2010 she joined Creative New Zealand, as an arts advisor on Pacific Arts.
Kiwi-born Samoan Nathaniel Lees began acting on stage in 1975, and on screen in 1984. Since then he has become a leading force in the development of Pacific Island theatre in Aotearoa, and brought his distinctive baritone voice to everything from The Billy T James Show to The Matrix.