Hosted by Jason Gunn, this popular late 90s teen talent quest became a pop culture marker for young Kiwis of the era. In this 1999 grand final at Te Papa’s marae, judges King Kapisi and Stacey Daniels assess the year's finalists. They include 11-year-old Hayley Westenra performing ‘The Mists of Islay’, which Westenra would later record after finding global fame as a classical crossover singer. The international guest is another young prodigy: violinist Vanessa Mae. Future Sticky TV/C4 presenter Drew Neemia was one of the members of house troupe The Super Troopers.
Special effects man and designer Richard Taylor got his break making puppets for 1980s comedy series Public Eye. He has gone on to become a key part of the Weta effects empire, supervising the creation of orcs, zombie mishaps and miniature cities for movies and TV shows. A passionate advocate for Kiwi talent, Taylor and his team have scored five New Zealand screen awards, four BAFTAS and five Academy Awards.
Michael Noonan is a legend in New Zealand scriptwriting, and not just because he was amongst the first to prove you could actually make a living at it. Creator of landmark New Zealand shows The Governor and Close to Home, Noonan's work has often explored ideas of power and social injustice.
One of New Zealand’s leading TV actors, Jeffrey Thomas was born in Wales and graduated with a Master of Literature from Oxford University. Since arriving in Wellington in 1976, his credits have included Close To Home, Gloss, Shark in the Park, Mercy Peak, Shortland Street and Outrageous Fortune. In the 80s he starred in a Welsh language drama series. An award-winning playwright, he has also acted extensively on stage.
Geoffrey Scott, MBE and OBE, oversaw the Government's National Film Unit for over 20 years, until his retirement in 1973. Scott began his film career playing piano over silent movies. During his command of the unit, the organisation won 141 awards.
Danielle Cormack has showcased her naturalistic, seemingly effortless acting style on both sides of the Tasman. After roles in TV soaps Gloss and Shortland Street, she began a run of big screen starring roles — Topless Women Talk About Their Lives, The Price of Milk and Via Satellite (playing twins). On Australian TV, Cormack has starred as a prisoner (Wentworth), crime lord (Underbelly: Razor) and barrister (Rake).
Bill McCarthy’s wide-ranging television career spans 50 years and counting. McCarthy won a keen following when he anchored coverage of the 1974 Commonwealth Games. After five years presenting Television One’s network news (alternating with Dougal Stevenson), he became a producer and director, and did time as TVNZ’s head of sports. McCarthy set up his own company in 1990, and continues to make shows for cable television.
Tom Finlayson has worked in television in almost every capacity: as a reporter and producer in the cauldron of daily news, developing and producing classic drama shows (Under the Mountain, Mortimer's Patch) and movies, directing documentaries (The Party's Over) — as well as commissioning programmes, during a three year stint as TVNZ’s Director of Production.
Rima Te Wiata's career has seen her showcasing her diverse talents as an actor (Housebound, Hunt for the Wilderpeople), comedian and impressionist (More Issues), and singer (Little Shop of Horrors) — sometimes all at the same time. In 2017 she was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit for her work on screen.