Like the eponymous native plant this children's puppet programme stuck to the socks of many kiwis of a certain vintage. Produced in Dunedin by TVNZ's Natural History Unit (now NHNZ), Bidibidi followed the adventures of a sheep on a South Island station for two series. Adapted from the children's book by Gavin Bishop, the show interspersed puppet scenes and musical numbers with actual wildlife footage. This first episode sees Bidibidi chasing a rainbow with advice from Stella the kea; includes beautifully shot images of a menagerie of native birds.
Chris Dudman is an award-winning filmmaker with credits in New Zealand and the UK. His short film Blackwater Summer was nominated for a Student Academy Award. Dudman has gone on to direct both documentary (New Zealand at War, The Day that Changed My Life, Zoo) and drama (Oscar Kightley police show Harry, short film Choice Night). Dudman also directs TV commercials, including the popular Pukeko ads for Genesis Energy.
In November 1948 New Zealand got its own Lost World story, when a population of takahē — a large flightless rail, long thought extinct — was found in a remote part of Fiordland. The rediscovery of ‘notornis’ (a cousin of the pūkeko), by Southland doctor Geoffrey Orbell, generated international interest. This episode of the NFU’s Weekly Review newsreel series treks from Lake Te Anau high into the Murchison Mountains, where the team (including naturalist Robert Falla) find sea shell fossils, evidence of moa-hunter campsites, and the dodo-like takahē itself.
Lisa Chatfield began producing shorts and commercials after studying television at the NZ Broadcasting School. Her first feature, Dunedin tale Scarfies, was a solid hit. After time at companies Working Title Australia and Eyeworks, she joined the NZ Film Commission in 2009, and later rose to become Head of Production and Development. In 2016 Chatfield moved to Pūkeko Pictures, as Head of Scripted Development.
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.
Director Peter Salmon first won attention with 1998 chase romp Playing Possum. In 2007, his coming of age short Fog was invited to Critics' Week at the Cannes Film Festival. His extensive CV of television credits includes Being Eve, Outrageous Fortune and The Wot Wots. Since moving to Australia in 2012, Salmon has directed several high profile drama series including Rake, Offspring and Wanted.
Veteran wildlife cameraman Robert Brown has filmed everything from polar bears to pukeko in places from the Arctic to the Antarctic. He shot the rare bird stories that led to the formation of state television's Natural History Unit (later NHNZ), and contributed to classic BBC David Attenborough series, such as Life on Earth and The Living Planet. In 1981 he won a Feltex Award for his work on Wild South.
Theo Baynton worked his way up the creative ladder as a designer and director, first at Auckland's Huhu Studios, then at Weta Workshop, where he production designed the animated Jane and the Dragon. Baynton went on to direct 76 episodes of export hit The WotWots. He now develops children's productions for Pūkeko Pictures, the company founded by Richard Taylor and his father, Brit-born author Martin Baynton.
Kiwi Chris Dudman studied film at Ilam and London’s Royal College of Art; his graduation short was nominated for a student Oscar. After working on arts documentaries in the UK, Dudman returned to NZ in 1995. Since then he has directed drama shows (the high-rating Harry), documentaries (The Day that Changed My Life), attention-grabbing shorts (Choice Night), and a number of high profile ads for his company Robber’s Dog.
Brit-born Martin Baynton has authored more than 30 children's books. After emigrating down under in 1987, he began developing television shows based on his work. After joining Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger to adapt his book series Jane and the Dragon for TV, the trio founded company Pūkeko Pictures and made successful pre-school export The WotWots. The sometime actor also narrated on WotWots.