Since the 1970s John Barnett has brought a host of uniquely Kiwi stories to local and international screens, from Fred Dagg and Footrot Flats, to Whale Rider, Sione's Wedding and Outrageous Fortune. As boss of production company South Pacific Pictures for 24 years, he was a driving force behind some of our landmark television dramas and feature films.
Veteran wildlife cameraman Robert Brown has filmed everything from polar bears to pukeko in places from the Arctic to the Antarctic. He shot the rare bird stories that led to the formation of state television's Natural History Unit (later NHNZ), and contributed to classic BBC David Attenborough series, such as Life on Earth and The Living Planet. In 1981 he won a Feltex Award for his work on Wild South.
Trevor Spitz, who died in March 2012, was a key player in the 1989 launch of channel TV3. The musician turned promoter had begun working in television in the 70s as a talent scout and producer of entertainment shows, and won success — and controversy — with hit television export That's Country. He was influential in the careers of many performers, including comedic duo McPhail and Gadsby and singer Suzanne Prentice.
The voice and face of Ian Johnstone are a familiar part of the New Zealand television landscape. Since the early 60s, his work as a reporter, presenter and producer has allowed him to document many key events from the first four decades of local television.
As an intrepid young cameraman for the National Film Unit, Don Oakley travelled to remote parts of New Zealand and brought to the screen scenes of the recently-rediscovered takahē, Opo the dolphin, and life in the backblocks. In a lengthy career, he also filmed in the studio and overseas, rising to be chief cameraman of the NFU.
Chris Bailey has made key creative contributions to a host of significant Kiwi television dramas, from sci fi classic Under the Mountain to Nothing Trivial. In 1998, Bailey, along with producer Chris Hampson and writer Greg McGee, founded production company ScreenWorks. These days he is managing director of South Pacific Pictures.
Described by New Zealand Geographic as the "doyen of New Zealand diving", Wade Doak is an author, marine ecologist and conservationist. Along with Kelly Tarlton he was a pioneer of underwater exploration and filming in Aotearoa. Behind and in front of the camera, he has contributed to documentaries for Wild South and production company NHNZ, and showcased Aotearoa’s undersea world to wide audiences.
Rodney Bryant was one of the stars of the heyday of regional television news. In the early 70s he became a Canterbury institution fronting The South Tonight with Bryan Allpress, and returned to host The Mainland Touch in the early 80s. He moved on to TV talkback, then children’s current affairs with The Video Dispatch, before leaving TV for a twenty year run in communications for the Dunedin City Council.
Allan Martin, OBE, worked as a television executive on both sides of the Tasman, but had his roots in programme making. He began making TV in England in the early 60s. Returning home, he developed influential programmes for the NZBC in Compass and Town and Around. Headhunted by the ABC in Australia, he returned to NZ in 1975 to set up the new second channel, and later became Director-General of TVNZ.
Simon Bennett's extensive CV includes producing and directing episodes of long-running successes Shortland Street and Outrageous Fortune — including helming Fortune's keenly-watched final episode — and producing fantasy series Maddigan's Quest. Bennett began in theatre, and has gone on to spend time as head of drama at South Pacific Pictures, the production house behind all three shows.