Rima Te Wiata won fame with her impersonations of famous New Zealanders in comedy shows Laughinz and More Issues. Her most famous parody was of newsreader Judy Bailey. Te Wiata is also a successful dramatic actor, having appeared in Shark in the Park and Shortland Street. Her film credits include Via Satellite and — after this interview was conducted — Housebound and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Mark Wright is an actor who is well known for impersonating celebrities and sports stars on television. He has appeared on a number of primetime comedy shows including Issues, That Comedy Show and Newsflash. Wright has also appeared in TV dramas Shortland Street, City Life, Nothing Trivial and Harry.
Producer/director Michael Firth first made his mark directing ski movie Off the Edge. A key early film in the NZ 'new wave', the documentary earned an Academy Award nomination in 1977. Firth went on to direct dramatic features Sylvia, Heart of the Stag and Vulcan Lane. But he loved the outdoors best: he went off the edge again in 1987 with zany adventure movie The Leading Edge, and was behind internationally successful TV series Adrenalize and fishing show Take the Bait.
Pio Terei is an actor, singer and comedian, who has been involved in a wide range of TV shows such as Issues, Pete and Pio, Big Night In and Tangaroa with Pio. He had a small role in the feature film No. 2 and a dramatic role in Mataku. Terei has also hosted iconic quiz show It’s in the Bag for Māori Television.
Award-winning documentary maker John Bates is a Scotsman who has lived in New Zealand for over 40 years. His documentaries have covered a range of genres, from the arts — Sense of Place: Robin Morrison Photographer, Reflections - Gretchen Albrecht — to social issues — New Faces Old Fears, Crime and Punishment — to history: 1951, Banned - 100 Years of Censorship in New Zealand. In 2010, Bates directed and produced acclaimed series 50 Years of New Zealand Television.
Canadian-born documentary filmmaker Leanne Pooley’s award-winning films have examined some of the most potent issues of New Zealand’s recent history - from euthanasia, to sport and politics, to controversial court verdicts. She has also sensitively paid tribute to some of our foremost artists - dancer Douglas Wright, and beloved comedians and singers The Topp Twins.
Alister Barry is the filmmaker behind a series of provocative and politically charged documentaries, most of them self-funded. His first documentary Mururoa 1973 tackled nuclear testing, and saw him on a boat headed into the middle of a bomb test zone. Over the next four decades Barry has continued to make significant political documentaries including Someone Else’s Country, The Hollow Men, Wildcat and Hot Air.
Simone Kessell first appeared on screen playing Hannah Tumai on short-lived soap Homeward Bound. She acted in both Hercules and Xena before being cast as a TV journalist on Cover Story, and as the lead in period drama Greenstone. Kessell has worked in both America and Australia, and appeared in Aussie dramas Underbelly and Wonderland.
At the age of 15 actor and singer Stephanie Tauevihi debuted on TV as a reporter on the youth current affairs show InFocus. She gained nationwide fame playing Donna Heka on Shortland Street for seven years. Tauevihi has also appeared in the feature films Rest for the Wicked and Russian Snark. She won Best Supporting Actress at the 2010 Qantas Awards for her role in the latter film.
Long-time television and radio host Mark Leishman began his TV career as a continuity announcer, and then moved on to regional news show Today Tonight. Over the years Leishman has appeared on a number of hit shows including Top Town, That’s Fairly Interesting and Tux Wonder Dogs. As well as presenting, he has also directed documentaries such as A Friend For Life and Kohi: A Guide For Life.