Mātai Smith began his screen career reporting on Marae. He was a long-running host of pioneering te reo children's show Pūkana and later co-hosted breakfast TV staple Good Morning (where he introduced te reo, and was hypnotised). Smith fronted popular Māori TV talent quest Homai Te Pakipaki, winning Best Presenter at the 2012 NZ TV Awards. He is currently Native Affairs’ Australian correspondent.
Between 1975 and 1983, London-born variety artist Chic Littlewood entertained a generation of Kiwi kids, writing and presenting 500 plus episodes of his after school shows Now C Here, Chicaboom and Chic Chat — appearing with Alma Woods, puppet Willie McNabb, and as Gramps. In 1993 Littlewood enjoyed a primetime career revival, after starting a three year stint on Shortland Street. He passed away on 11 January 2015.
Named Head of the Internal Production Department at TVNZ while still in her late 20s, Dana Youngman first worked her way up the producing ladder on lifestyle shows like Maggie’s Garden Show and A Taste of Home. Since then she has worked on New Zealand’s Got Talent and Whānau Living, and helped create a cooking show with Annabel Langbein which screened in more than 80 countries.
Ray Columbus, OBE, began hosting television shows at the tender age of 19. After Columbus and the Invaders topped Australasian charts with 1964 single 'She's a Mod', Columbus spent time as a musician in America. The song was covered multiple times. He later returned to Aotearoa to resume a long career as recording artist, TV presenter and talent manager. Columbus passed away in late November 2016.
Rachel Hunter is the girl from Glenfield who made the big time. Hunter won fame for her stellar career as an international supermodel, starting in the late 1980s. Her onscreen work has grown through the years with a range of television roles, from ice cream adverts to travel, talent and beauty shows — and a long list of acting credits ranging from thrillers to acclaimed dramas.
Wellington-raised producer Debra Kelleher has more than three decades experience in the screen industry. She cut her production teeth in Australia (Neighbours, Sale of the Century), before returning home to work on Shortland Street, then cult teen show The Tribe. Kelleher was at the helm of breakfast TV show Good Morning, and five seasons of flagship TVNZ show Dancing with The Stars.
Ian Sinclair has reported from every corner of the globe. After experiencing dictatorship while studying flamenco guitar in Spain, Sinclair returned home to New Zealand, and eventually began working for TVNZ in 1986. Since then he has covered four major wars and been a mainstay as an investigative journalist, winning New Zealand’s Qantas Media Award for Best Investigation in 2009.
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.
Since joining state television as a sound operator in the 60s, Ron Pledger has gone on to win a reputation for his assured coverage of a wide range of live events, from concerts to This is Your Life to the state funeral of Sir Edmund Hillary. A life long music lover, Pledger was awarded an MBE in 1992, helping recognise 40 years of service in a military band.
From the mid 1960s into the 1980s, Christopher Bourn’s name was synonymous with entertainment on New Zealand television. But the man behind talent shows Studio One and New Faces also played a role in groundbreaking sports broadcasts, including the first All Black test screened on television. Bourn also held senior management roles in both the old NZ Broadcasting Corporation and TVNZ.