There were times when the career of longtime National Film Unit director David Sims could have been cut short. Having survived close encounters with steam locomotives in mountainous terrain, he narrowly escaped being blown up, drowned and burnt alive at sea. Even filming a planned set-up on location had its hazards, as he found when his call of “action!” sent exploding rocks whistling by perilously close overhead.
Paora Maxwell spent three years as Chief Executive of Māori Television. He began in the job in May 2014 after time heading TVNZ’s Māori and Pacific Programmes Department, and 15 years making shows for his company Te Aratai Productions. Maxwell was set to step down from Māori Television in August 2017.
A National Film Unit cameraman for 36 years, Brian Cross worked on a large number of films, ranging from royal tours and rugby tours to industrial progress in forestry and electricity transmission, some as cameraman and director. He is particularly remembered for his record of the maiden voyage of HMNZS. Otago, and for his many films of New Zealand railways.Image credit: Archives New Zealand, ref AAQT 6421 B18889
Whai Ngata worked in Māori broadcasting at Television New Zealand for 25 years, a period when the quantity of Māori broadcasting underwent a major expansion. Starting as a reporter, he rose to become TVNZ's general manager of Māori Programming, a post he held from 1994 until retiring in 2008. Ngata was named an Officer of the Order of New Zealand Merit in 2007. He passed away on 3 April 2016.
For more than 20 years, Haunui Royal has been driven by the desire to be part of a vibrant Māori voice in broadcasting. The director turned executive got his break at TVNZ in 1988, before directing everything from a long line of documentaries (The Truth about Māori), to entertainment (Havoc and Newsboy's Sellout Tour). Later he spent seven years as General Manager of Programming at Māori Television.
Producer Meg Douglas began in television as a teenage reporter, before heading behind the camera as an adult. Since then she has worked in a variety of roles — from researcher, writer and production manager, to producer and director. In 2005, Douglas started her own production company, Scottie Productions, which has netted several awards.
Tainui Stephens is a Kiwi screen taonga. Since joining Koha as a reporter in 1984, he has brought many Māori stories to television, and worked on everything from Marae to Māori Television's version of It's in the Bag. Among the notable documentaries he has directed are Māori Battalion doco March to Victory and award-winning show The New Zealand Wars. He was a producer on Vincent Ward film Rain of the Children.
The multitalented Hinewehi Mohi, MNZM, is arguably best known for a single moment from her musical career — singing the national anthem in te reo at a 1999 rugby game. After getting a Bachelor of Arts at Waikato University in 1985, Mohi jumped into reporting for primetime Māori slot Koha. In 2004 she set up Raukatauri Productions, and launched long-running waiata programme Moteatea. It was nominated for two screen awards. Her TV work also includes producing Marae DIY and Matariki Awards coverage, and directing a documentary on Merata Mita. In 2016 Women in Film and Televison named her Te Reo Māori Champion.
Spending 13 years in one job is a very long time these days, so imagine the pressure of commissioning TVNZ shows for all that time. Kathryn Graham did just that across a diverse portfolio of programmes. The former television director was TVNZ's first Commissioning Editor of Māori and Pacific content, and the first Kaikotuitui Rangapu (Programme Commissioner) at Māori Television.
As manager of the National Film Unit, David Henry Fowler oversaw the organisation's move from Miramar to Lower Hutt. In 35 years of filmmaking he worked in both government and private sectors: writing, directing, and producing memorable films ranging from commercials to features. After his career at the top was cut short by ill-health, he continued to pass on his knowledge and experience in advisory roles. Image credit: Archives New Zealand, ref AAQT 6421 B57