Television experience with the BBC helped David Pumphrey win a job in Kiwi television, soon after he returned to New Zealand in 1959. He went on to produce children's shows, live broadcasts, and Montage — forerunner to magazine show Town and Around. Pumphrey also worked on the first TV broadcasts by celebrity cook Graham Kerr, and directed for high profile current affairs shows Compass and Gallery.
Before he achieved worldwide fame as an actor, Sam Neill directed documentary films for the National Film Unit. This film examines the philosophy, early achievements and frustrations of one of New Zealand's most innovative architects, Ian Athfield. Athfield won an international competition in 1975 to design housing for 140,000 squatters in Manila, in the Philippines, yet struggled to gain recognition back home. This film culminates in Athfield's trip to the Philippines to pursue the project. Shooter John Toon later memorably shot feature film Rain.
After helping out on Peter Jackson's debut feature Bad Taste, Cameron Chittock went on to design and help create 90+ puppets for Jackson's ambitious creature feature Meet the Feebles. Since then, Chittock has worked on children's shows for TV3, and created and directed a range of animated TV shows — including claymation export Oscar and Friends and Australian-Singapore co-production Bottle Top Bill.
Libby Hakaraia has an overflowing kete of credits, covering subjects from Fat Freddy’s Drop to Apirana Ngata, Anzac Day to Anne Salmond. The ex-radio journalist had a screen apprenticeship at Kiwa Productions, where she made many docos on Māori themes. Based in Otaki, she now produces shows with partner Tainui Stephens under the Blue Bach banner, including the popular Māori Television reboot of It’s in the Bag.
Four-part series Revolution mapped sweeping social and economic change in New Zealand society in the 1980s and early 1990s. Described as a “journalist's assembly” by its makers, it collected together interviews with the major players and archive footage. Producer Marcia Russell: “We wanted to make Revolution because we believed that unless we re-run and re-examine our recent history we are in constant danger of forgetting, and forgetting can render us passive about the present and slaves of the future.” It won Best Factual Series at the 1997 Film and TV Awards.
Impressed by untapped Polynesian talent, Levin-based filmmaker collaborated on a trio of pioneering films that put young Polynesians and Māori centre-frame: Kingi's Story, Kingpin, and award-winning telemovie Mark II. Walker passed away in late 2004.
Tangata Whenua was a groundbreaking six-part documentary series that screened (remarkably in primetime) in 1974. Each episode chronicled a different iwi and included interviews by historian Michael King with kaumātua. These remain a priceless historical record. The Feltex Award-winning script was by King and director Barry Barclay. The NZBC said the series had "possibly done more towards helping the European understand the Māori people, their traditions and way of life, than anything else previously shown on television". Paul Diamond writes about Tangata Whenua here.
Alongside a radio career spanning more than half a century, Barry Holland, NZOM, has done numerous presenting jobs on television. Since starting his broadcasting career at Radio 1ZB in the early 60s, he has commentated the Olympic Games and the America’s Cup, and been the face of classic Kiwi TV series like On The Mat and Top Town.
Claire Chitham’s eight years playing Shortland Street receptionist Waverley Wilson made her one of the show’s longest-serving castmembers to date, as well as one of the most popular. She went on to a memorable role as gang girl Aurora Bay in Outrageous Fortune and won an NZ Screen Award for her work in Interrogation.
Julian Dickon’s place in New Zealand screen history would be secure thanks to just one show — groundbreaking 70s drama series Pukemanu, which he created. Dickon also wrote a number of early plays for television, and went on to write drama, documentary and children’s show Sea Urchins. Dickon passed away on 3 April 2015.