Suzy Cato leapt from radio announcing into television as presenter of TV3's Early Bird Show, quickly claiming her place as one of New Zealand's most beloved children's presenters. Thanks to the success of Suzy's World and pre-school favourite You and Me, her television CV now runs to well over 2300 episodes. In 1999 she set up her own company, Treehut Productions.
From his early days on the stage, Percy Hayes was known for singing and impressions; but it was as actor Rupert Julian that he made his name in Australia, then in the pictures in America. After earning a million dollars as director, producer, writer and star of The Kaiser, his directing career peaked with The Phantom Of The Opera in 1925, starring Lon Chaney. He stayed on in a mansion in LA's Hollywood Hills, until his death in 1943.Image: courtesy of Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archive
Allan Martin, OBE, worked as a television executive on both sides of the Tasman, but had his roots in programme making. He began making TV in England in the early 60s. Returning home, he developed influential programmes for the NZBC in Compass and Town and Around. Headhunted by the ABC in Australia, he returned to NZ in 1975 to set up the new second channel, and later became Director-General of TVNZ.
A key player behind the scenes, Gary Hannam’s ability to find and exploit mechanisms for financing movies was a key driver in the rapid growth of the NZ film industry during the 1980s.
Barbara Magner won many fans when she brought her lively, personable style to 60s era magazine show Town and Around. Born in the Waikato, Magner began her broadcasting career on state radio, then in the 60s moved into continuity announcing on television. Further television gigs followed into the 70s. Magner passed away on 12 July 2014, at the age of 77.
A visit to the set of Geoff Murphy film The Quiet Earth motivated Karen Sidney to work in the screen industry. One of her first jobs was in the art department for 1985 miniseries Heart of the High Country. She went on to join a filmmaking course run by Ngāti director Barry Barclay, then moved into documentary, producing A Whale's Tale. She also wrote award-winning Cliff Curtis drama Kahu & Maia. In 2002 Sidney helped develop Aroha, a series of love stories in te reo. She also co-produced, and wrote episode Mataora. Sidney has spent time lecturing in film studies in Whangarei, and working at Creative Northland.
Tying David Stevens' career down to a single nation or genre is a challenge. Stevens grew up in Africa and the Middle East, studied acting in the UK, then began his screen career in NZ. In 1972 he directed award-winning drama An Awful Silence, then moved to Australia. There he was Oscar nominated for co-writing movie Breaker Morant, and forged a busy career directing (A Town Like Alice) and writing (The Sum of Us).
As a director Gregory King has mined dark, sometimes darkly comic tales both in shorts, and in award-winning digital features Christmas and A Song of Good. He has also written shorts for other directors (including festival success Brave Donkey) and is developing further features.
Trailblazing broadcaster Shirley Maddock, ONZM, was making and presenting television in 1960, when the medium first began in New Zealand. After doing theatre in London and radio in New York, she went on to produce and present a series of documentaries in her homeland, and wrote a bestselling book to accompany 1964 series Islands of the Gulf. Maddock passed away on 10 October 2001. She was 72.
Surely the most famous comedian to rise from West Auckland, Ewen Gilmour won the first Billy T award in 1997, and a devoted following. The longtime petrolhead had begun making regular appearances on TV show Pulp Comedy in the mid 90s; there would also be live performances in Paris, Ireland, Montreal, and across the length of New Zealand. Gilmour passed away in his sleep in early October 2014.