Tama Poata's wide-ranging contributions to our culture can be glimpsed through his appearances on-screen: from campaigns for Māori land rights (in 1975 doco Te Matakite O Aotearoa) and against the Springbok tour (Patu!), to his many acting roles. He also directed documentaries and wrote landmark 1987 movie Ngati, the first feature written (and directed) by Māori.
Tying David Stevens' career down to a single nation or genre is a challenge. Stevens grew up in Africa and the Middle East, studied acting in the UK, then began his screen career in NZ. In 1972 he directed award-winning drama An Awful Silence, then moved to Australia. There he was Oscar nominated for co-writing movie Breaker Morant, and forged a busy career directing (A Town Like Alice) and writing (The Sum of Us).
Wi Kuki Kaa was a diverse, formidable presence on New Zealand stage and screen for almost 30 years. His iconic roles included Iwi in Barry Barclay-directed feature Ngati, Rewi Maniapoto in TV series The Governor, Wiremu in Geoff Murphy-directed Utu, the koroua in Trinity Roots' music video Little Things, a scarecrow maker in Worzel Gummidge Down Under, and many more.
Chris Graham studied filmmaking in New York before returning to NZ and forging a reputation through distinctive promos for well known Aotearoa musicians (Scribe, Trinity Roots). He made his feature film debut with comedy hit Sione's Wedding (2006), closely followed by horror movie The Ferryman.
After studying design at Victoria University, Nick Ward helped write reality television for Julie Christie, spent time as assistant editor at fashion magazine FQMen, then in 2004 launched production company Two Heads, alongside director James Anderson. Ward went on to produce comedians-abroad series Funny Roots, comedy club series A Night at the Classic, and two seasons of primetime hit The Food Truck — which spawned overseas sales, cookbooks, and a restaurant business. At the start of 2017 Ward left Two Heads, to become Head of Development at company Great Southern Film and Television.
Julian Arahanga shot into the public eye in 1994's Once Were Warriors, playing the son who becomes a gang-member. He followed it with a starring role in cross-cultural romance Broken English. Since then Arahanga has continued a prolific career working in front of, and increasingly behind the camera - including as producer and director on Māori Television series Songs from the Inside.
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.
A veteran figure in Māori broadcasting, Waihoroi Shortland has also been an actor (Rain of the Children, Boy), scriptwriter (Crooked Earth) and Māori advisor (The Piano). In 2003 he won the NZ Film Award for Best Actor, after playing Shylock in movie The Māori Merchant of Venice. In 2015 he became the first chair of Te Mātāwai, the organisation charged with revitalising te reo on behalf of Māori.
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.
Grant Bowler cemented his place in Kiwi television history by playing charismatic Outrageous Fortune bad boy Wolf West. Long based out of Australia, the self-described 'Aussiwi' has become increasingly visible on American screens since 2008, backing movie work with roles in shows Ugly Betty, True Blood and Lost.