A pioneer of the commercial use of 16mm film in post-war New Zealand, Robert Steele is arguably a lost name in the local screen industry. A portrait photographer who was making amateur films in 1930, he spent several years in his native Australia before returning to NZ for good in 1937. Steele screened his films at workplaces and trade fairs, and was a major producer of commercials in the first decade of Kiwi television.
Paul Stanley Ward won a Qantas Award for his first short film script: 2008's The Graffiti of Mr Tupaia. After an OE that took in a Masters in Literature at Oxford University and work for the Discovery Channel in the United States, he returned home to write for Kiwi settler show Here to Stay, plus policing documentary Undercover. Later came shorts Choice Night and Cold Snap, which was selected for the 2013 Venice Film Festival. Ward was founding editor of NZ On Screen. The longtime nature lover went on to create kids nature app Wild Eyes, and Capital Kiwi, whose mission is to return kiwi to the wilds of Wellington.
Canadian-born New Zealand director Leanne Pooley has won a raft of awards for her work as a documentary filmmaker. The 2011 Arts Laureate's films include hit Topp Twins movie Untouchable Girls, 3D Everest first ascent saga Beyond the Edge, and euthanasia exploration The Promise. In 2015 her film 25 April, an animated feature about Gallipoli, was selected for the Toronto International Film Festival.
Mitchell Manuel burst onto the small screen in Mike Walker's 1981 bros-in-borstal drama Kingi's Story, playing the title role of a petty thief. Manuel followed it with acting and writing credits for acclaimed feature Kingpin (1985) and tele-movie Mark II (1986) — for which he won critical praise, and a best acting award.
Glenn Standring is a writer/director with a background in animation and computer graphics. His 1996 short Lenny Minute was accepted into competition at Cannes. To date his feature films have been southern gothic takes on the occult/horror genres. He also provided the script for historical action tale The Dead Lands, directed in 2014 by No. 2 talent Toa Fraser.
Stewart Main is a director noted for his strong sense of visual style, and commitment to themes of individuality and sexuality. Alongside his own projects (including 2005 feature 50 Ways of Saying Fabulous), a fruitful partnership with Peter Wells has produced several noted dramatic and documentary films, including colonial-set bodice-ripper Desperate Remedies.
As longtime presenter of alternative music show Radio With Pictures, Karyn Hay won fame for daring to speak in her own accent. Since leaving the show in the late 80s, Hay has worked on both sides of the microphone, directing music videos, managing radio station Kiwi FM and writing award-winning novel Emerald Budgies.
After presenting children's television, sports and magazine shows (Spot On, That's Fairly Interesting, 3:45 LIVE!, Keoghan's Heroes), Phil Keoghan moved to the United States. In 2000 he was picked to host The Amazing Race, one of the most awarded shows in the history of reality television. Multiple Emmy-winner Keoghan has also written book No Opportunity Wasted, and created a bevy of accompanying TV series.
Known for his many live tours as a poet, debater and speaker, Kiwi legend Gary McCormick has made a host of appearances on New Zealand television. His work on the talk show McCormick and long-running series Heartland helped make him television's most popular presenter in a 1999 newspaper poll.
Carol Hirschfeld spent 12 years at TVNZ in news and current affairs, and also co-hosted Crimewatch. In 1997 she was hired to read TV3's 6pm news, the start of an extended association with John Campbell. They presented 3 News for seven years, then she began producing Campbell Live in 2004. Since 2009 Hirschfeld has done time as Head of Programming at Māori Television, and Head of Content at RNZ.