George Henare is acting royalty in New Zealand with a huge body of work in theatre, television and movies. His first screen performance was as a suspected killer in the 1976 TV play The Park Terrace Murder. From there Henare starred as Hone Heke in the epic TV drama The Governor. Moving to the big screen, Henare portrayed the evil tohunga in The Silent One. Henare's other film and television credits include Mercy Peak, Shortland Street, Hercules and Xena, Rapa Nui, Once Were Warriors, and The Legend of Johnny Lingo.
Rawiri Paratene (Ngā Puhi) was the first Māori student to graduate from the New Zealand Drama School, and he has since made an indelible mark on the NZ screenscape. Paratene’s small screen career began with a small part on The Governor, and playing Koro in 70s sitcom Joe and Koro. Paratene then hosted daily pre-school show Play School. Paratene is also an acclaimed writer whose credits include the TV dramas Erua and Dead Certs. On the big screen, Paratene has played the role of reformed gang member Mulla in What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?; but it was his role as Koro in Whale Rider that garnered him international recognition.
Nathaniel Lees is an NZ-born Samoan actor who has acted on both stage and screen. Lees began his screen career with small roles in Death Warmed Up and Other Halves, before joining Billy T James on his sketch comedy shows. Lees went on to appear in a number of TV dramas including Shark in the Park , City Life, Gloss, Shortland Street and Street Legal. His many film roles include Sione’s Wedding, The Lord of the Rings, Rapa Nui and The Matrix trilogy.
After 10 and a half years as CEO of the NZ Film Commission, Ruth Harley stepped down to head across the ditch to helm Screen Australia. Doctor Harley quickly moved into management in the film and television sector, initially at TVNZ in the 1980s, then as the first Executive Director of newly formed funding body NZ On Air. In 1997 she was appointed CEO of the Film Commission.
Stand-up comedian Ben Hurley began in the hotbed of Wellington comedy.
Roger Horrocks is an academic and writer who has mentored many figures in the New Zealand screen industry. Horrocks began teaching film studies at Auckland University in the 1970s, at a time when film was looked down on by academics. He helped launch the Auckland Film Festival (the precursor to the New Zealand International Film Festival), and was a founding board member of funding body NZ On Air.