Irene Wood was showing her versatility from the early days of Kiwi television: by 1968 she had already been on screen presenting children's shows, singing, and playing Katherine Mansfield in TV play The White Gardenia. Since then Wood has acted in murder mystery Slipknot, Shortland Street, movie Rest for the Wicked, and won fans after playing Nan for five seasons of Go Girls.
Since cutting his teeth on 1978 soap Radio Waves, Mike Smith has built one of the longest directing CVs in local television, winning awards en route for both drama and comedy. In 2005 he produced the debut season of Outrageous Fortune, and played a hand in its casting. He has also created or helped create shows Heroes, hit comedy Willy Nilly, The Lost Children and campground comedy Sunny Skies.
Quinton Hita's broadcasting career has included stints as DJ, writer, actor and producer. His abilities in te reo first took Hita to radio, then a gig co-presenting TV's Mai Time. He went on to act in Crooked Earth and Shortland Street, where he also did time as a writer and Māori script editor. These days head of Kura Productions, Hita has produced many shows for Māori Television — plus his first feature, reggae tale Mt Zion.
Ken Duncum, who heads the scriptwriting programme at Victoria University, has written comedy (Skitz, Willy Nilly), detective shows (Duggan) and meta dramas about television itself (Cover Story). His extensive theatrical CV is laced with plays in which music plays a major part — including the acclaimed Waterloo Sunset, and hit show Blue Sky Boys.
Train enthusiast David Sims captured the dying days of steam trains in this 1968 National Film Unit short. It features arresting images of a Kb class locomotive billowing steam as it tackles the Southern Alps, en route from Canterbury to the West Coast. Kb Country was released in Kiwi cinemas in January 1968, just months before the steam locomotives working the Midland Line were replaced by diesel-electrics. Sims earned his directing stripes with the film. As he writes in this background piece, making it involved a mixture of snow, joy and at least two moments of complete terror.
Jack Body, OMNZ, composed for everything from gamelan orchestras to the Kronos Quartet, and was a leading figure in awakening local interest in Asian and Pacific music. His soundtrack work ranged across children’s tales, te reo dramas and nature films. His collaborations with director Vincent Ward include classic film Vigil, and (with John Gibson), 2008’s Rain of the Children. Body passed away on 10 May 2015.
The familiar voice of radio announcer Peter Hutt was also heard on the soundtracks of many National Film Unit productions. From 1946, when Weekly Review put a few minutes each week of New Zealand scenes and people on cinema screens, until 1972, when television was presenting hours daily of the country and its people, Hutt also developed his talent for directing, writing and editing films. Image credit: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, ID 34-232 (detail). Photographer Clifton Firth
Within two years of acting in kidult TV adventure Sea Urchins, Kiwi Rebecca Gibney had set up shop in Australia. There she would find fame — and a long list of awards and nominations — thanks to a television CV which includes Wanted (which she also created), Packed to the Rafters, The Flying Doctors, mini-series Come in Spinner, and 21 Halifax tele-movies as forensic psychiatrist Jane Halifax.
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).
After managing to introduce drama and dance into his post WWII films for the National Film Unit, filmmaker Michael Forlong spent the remainder of his career directing features in Europe. In 1972 he returned to New Zealand to shoot children's tale Rangi's Catch, discovering actor Temuera Morrison in the process.