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.
Former Commonwealth Games athlete Kirk Torrance (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa) struggled with asthma and school as a child, before realising his potential as an internationally competitive swimmer. Following his exploits at home and abroad in the pool, Torrance graduated from Toi Whakaari and embarked on a successful career in film and television. His most memorable performances to date include Toa in Fish Skin Suit, Lee Kapene in Shortland Street, Holden in award-winning feature film Stickmen, and detective Wayne Judd in the hit TV series Outrageous Fortune.
Actress and TV presenter Miriama Smith made her acting debut in cop show Shark in the Park. At 20 she graduated to Shortland Street, playing nurse Awhina Broughton. Since then, Smith has appeared in a raft of TV shows including Mercy Peak, Mataku and Serial Killers. She played lawyer Donna Hall in tele-feature Stolen, was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, and a judge on the Prime Television version of New Zealand’s Got Talent.
Canadian-born to New Zealand parents, writer and director Alison Maclean helmed one of the most successful NZ Film Commission-funded short films of all time, Kitchen Sink, which debuted at Cannes and won eight international awards. A graduate of Elam School of Fine Arts, she has directed feature films Crush (which she also wrote) and Jesus’ Son. A director of commercials and television series including Sex and the City and Gossip Girl, Maclean divides her time between New York, Canada and New Zealand, and she is developing several feature films.
Tammy Davis (Ngāti Rangi, Atihaunui a Paparangi) grew up in Raetihi, and studied acting at Northland Polytechnic before landing his first major role (alongside fellow graduate Clint Eruera) as Mookie in the feature film What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? Following supporting roles in Whale Rider, and TV dramas Jacksons Wharf, The Market and Mataku, Davis starred in macabre feature Black Sheep, and Taika Waititi short film Tama Tū, before securing the role of Munter in long-running TV series Outrageous Fortune. Davis won Best Performance by a Supporting Actor at the 2008 Qantas Film and Television Awards for his role as Munter.
Shavaughn Ruakere began her screen career as a presenter on kids TV show What Now?, and later graduated to music channel C4 after a stint on UK morning show SM:TV. Since then Ruakere has made the switch to acting, and appeared in a number of shows including The Jaquie Brown Diaries and a long stint in Shortland Street as Roimata Ngatai.