Writer, producer and actor Paul Yates is a comedic "everyman". His CV includes sketch shows Facelift and Telly Laughs, pre-teen series Freaky and The Killian Curse, and teen sitcom Girl vs Boy. He’s written for popular sitcoms Willy Nilly and Sunny Skies, and is producer and co-writer for Wellington Paranormal, the successful What We Do in the Shadows spin-off.
Jacob Rajan’s play Krishnan’s Diary was a breakout success, named 1997 Chapman Tripp production of the year. Through company Indian Ink, the Malaysian-born, Kiwi-raised Rajan has since co-created and starred in a series of plays, winning sellout performances, awards in Edinburgh and a renowned American agent. He has also acted on screen in Outrageous Fortune, Shortland Street, and starred in award-winning Fish Skin Suit.
David Blyth cemented his place in the Kiwi filmmaking renaissance with two films that left social realism far behind: 1978 experimental feature Angel Mine, and 1984's Death Warmed Up, New Zealand's first homegrown horror movie. Since then Blyth's work has included family friendly vampire film Moonrise, a number of documentaries on war, and varied works exploring sexuality.
Writer James Griffin has had a hand in an eye-opening proportion of the successful TV comedies and dramas made in New Zealand since 1985. His credits stretch from Gloss and The Almighty Johnsons, to award-winner 800 Words and big screen comedy Sione's Wedding. Working alongside writer Rachel Lang, he also helped create Westie family drama Outrageous Fortune and its prequel series Westside.
Riwia Brown is a Māori playwright and scriptwriter who won the Best Screenplay award for her adaptation of Alan Duff's novel Once Were Warriors. She has written and directed strong Māori roles for the stage and screen.
Temuera Morrison was acting on screen at age 11. Two decades later he won Kiwi TV immortality as Dr Ropata in Shortland Street, and rave global reviews as abusive husband Jake Heke in Once Were Warriors. Since reprising his Warriors role in a well-regarded sequel, Morrison has starred in Crooked Earth, Tracker and Mahana, hosted a talk show and a variety show, and played Jango Fett in two Star Wars prequels.
Maaka Pohatu was an established theatre actor (Strange Resting Places, The Māori Troilus and Cressida) before making his movie debut as hapless flatmate to Bret McKenzie's character, in 2012's Two Little Boys. Pohatu went on to play a sergeant battling the supernatural, in hit comedy series Wellington Paranormal. Alongside three fellow Toi Whakaari graduates, he was a founding member of The Modern Māori Quartet. They were the house band on Temuera Morrison variety show Happy Hour, then hosted their own show on Māori Television, My Party Song. Pohatu played Dalvanius Prime in acclaimed documentary Poi E.
Margaret Mahy was a renowned author of children's books who also wrote for television. Amongst her many international awards is the Hans Christian Andersen Award (known as the Little Nobel Prize) for a "lasting contribution to children's literature". A highly visual writer, Mahy both wrote for the screen (Maddigan's Quest, Strangers), and her books inspired a number of programmes. She passed away on 23 July 2012.
Former ad agency creative-turned-director Steve Ayson attracted attention with 2002 supernatural short The French Doors (scoring a 'Leopard of Tomorrow' award at Locarno). He has since collaborated with partner Jane Shearer on award-winner Nature’s Way, and as co-director of Bird. Ayson is globally recognised as a commercials director; his local efforts include the iconic Ghost Chips and Lotto Lucky Dog campaigns.
American-born Steve Sachs is the producer of drama/comedy Savage Honeymoon and horror movie The Locals. He also produced the television series True Life Stories and a number of acclaimed short films.