Twenty-five plus years spent working in Māori tourism proved valuable when Karen Te O Kahurangi Waaka-Tibble moved into television production. The Rotorua local was used to managing people and events, so making TV shows was a natural fit. Now general manager for Kura Productions, Waaka-Tibble has produced nine seasons of children's te reo show Pūkoro, and was line producer on movie Mt Zion.
David Beatson's 50 year career included high profile stints in TV current affairs: reporting, interviewing and producing for shows like Town and Around, Compass, Gallery, and Eyewitness, and chairing election debates. Beatson went on to edit The Listener, and was a press secretary to PM Jim Bolger and spokesperson for Air NZ. He served on the boards of various media organisations, and was chairman of NZ On Air.
Libby Hakaraia has an overflowing kete of credits, covering subjects from Fat Freddy’s Drop to Apirana Ngata, Anzac Day to Anne Salmond. The ex-radio journalist had a screen apprenticeship at Kiwa Productions, where she made many docos on Māori themes. Based in Otaki, she now produces shows with partner Tainui Stephens under the Blue Bach banner, including the popular Māori Television reboot of It’s in the Bag.
Hugh Macdonald began his long, award-studded career at the National Film Unit, where at age 25 he directed ambitious three-screen spectacular This is New Zealand (1970). It was seen by 400,000 New Zealanders. In the 1980s he produced Oscar-nominated short The Frog, the Dog, and the Devil and set up his own company, continuing a busy diet of train documentaries, commercial films and animation.
After graduating from New Zealand Broadcasting School, Clarke Gayford created student show Cow TV. Presenting gigs followed for music channel C4, United Travel Getaway, and Extraordinary Kiwis. In 2016 he swapped his microphone for a speargun to launch Fish of the Day, a Choice TV show about his lifelong passion. In 2017 Gayford became NZ’s 'first bloke', when partner Jacinda Ardern became Prime Minister.
Billy T James ranks as a key figure in the development of Kiwi comedy. Billy honed his talents as a singer and comedian on stages worldwide, then brought them to a local TV audience on throwback show Radio Times. His self-titled comedy show was a major ratings hit. His turn as the Tainuia kid in Came a Hot Friday is still fondly remembered — as is Billy T's infectious chuckle, black singlet and yellow towel.
Producer Tash Christie's screen credits span from motorway patrols to outsider art. Now working at company Greenstone TV, Christie has produced documentaries The Women of Pike River and Qantas award-winner A Good Way to Die? (alongside her partner Dan Salmon). She has also worked on a run of primetime documentary and reality shows, from Neighbours at War to The Big Ward.
Ray Collins was working in a camera-shop when a senior BCNZ cameraman offered him a job on the spot. Collins was shooting items for the main evening news his first morning on the job. Based in Dunedin for much of the 15 years he spent with the state broadcaster, Collins shot for Spot On, Fair Go and Wild Track. Collins left TVNZ in 1990, and now shoots and makes programmes from his Dunedin base.
Brother of pioneering aviator Jean Batten, Rotorua-born John Batten began acting in films while living in the United States. By the 1930s he was winning starring roles in England, including The Great Game and submarine drama Men Like This. Later he appeared in his only known New Zealand film, Rudall Hayward short Song of the Wanganui. Batten passed away in England in 1993.
Mark McNeill has been making documentaries for over 20 years. Along the way he has shown a knack for offbeat factual programming, including work with Te Radar and psychologist Nigel Latta. In 1999 McNeill launched company Razor Films. He and Latta went on to reshape The Politically Incorrect Parenting Show for a primetime Australian slot. In 2018 McNeill become the first Kiwi producer to make a series for Netflix.