Toby Mills began as an actor (eg. short films Mananui and The Find). After managing theatre company Te Rakau Hua o te Wa o Tapu, he took up directing, and in 2000 was awarded for series Nga Morehu, which profiled Māori elders. Mills works often with his partner Moana Maniapoto; together they have won awards for docos on Syd Jackson and carver Pakaariki Harrison. Mills also helmed te reo short Te Po Uriuri.
In a turbulent media landscape, director/producer Kay Ellmers feels that the long-form documentary is still powerful. Her screen CV includes acclaimed doco He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan, and popular series like Marae Kai Masters and Mīharo. Ellmers is Managing Director of Tūmanako Productions, and a consultant on documentary and factual programming for Māori Television.
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.
Comedian, actor and singer Pio Terei, MNZM has shown his talents across a host of TV shows — from comedy (Pio!, Pete and Pio! , The Life and Times of Te Tutu ) and variety (Big Night In), to fishing (the long-running Tangaroa with Pio) and food shows (Pete and Pio's Kai Safari). Twice judged best comedy performer at the NZ Film Awards, Pio has also acted in Toa Fraser drama No. 2, and written and acted for anthology series Mataku. In 2009, he took over presenting duties on iconic quiz show It's in the Bag. Later he set off through Aotearoa on foot, for two seasons of Māori TV series Te Araroa: Tales from the Trails.
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.
Jim Moriarty's screen career has ranged from 70s soap Close to Home and Rowley Habib's The Protestors, to starring in mock-doco The Waimate Conspiracy and playing Dad in The Strength of Water. Committed to theatre as a tool for change, he has often worked with troubled youth (eg 2003 documentary Make or Break). Moriarty's directing work includes TV's Mataku, and a stage musical of Once Were Warriors.
Sometime actor Taika Waititi has clearly sunk his teeth into directing. His 2005 short film Two Cars, One Night was Oscar-nominated. Second feature Boy (2010) became the most successful Kiwi film released on its home soil — at least until the arrival of Waititi's fourth movie, Barry Crump inspired adventure comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople. In 2017 Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok became an international hit.
Errol Wright has co-directed a run of festival-selected documentaries with Abi King-Jones, under their CutCutCut Films banner: Te Whānau o Aotearoa, The Last Resort, Operation 8 and The 5th Eye (which examine homelessness, land sales, the 2007 terror raids and surveillance respectively). Wright has also been a camera operator for Alister Barry documentaries (Hollow Men, Hot Air) and television news.
Schooled at Unitec, Auckland University and Juice TV, King-Jones has made a run of NZ film festival-selected documentaries in partnership with Errol Wright: Te Whānau o Aotearoa, The Last Resort, Operation 8 and The 5th Eye (about homelessness, land sales, terror raids and surveillance respectively). With Alister Barry, she co-directed the award-nominated Hot Air; she also edited his A Civilised Society.
Actor, writer and director Rawiri Paratene, ONZM, first sprang into the public eye on the iconic Play School and comedy shows like Joe and Koro. In 1999 he played gangmember Mulla Rota in the sequel to Once Were Warriors, and four years later was seen around the globe as the stubborn grandfather in Whale Rider. In 2010 he won further acclaim after starring in movie The Insatiable Moon.