Welsh-born James Harris played an important role in the founding of the National Film Unit in 1941. A well-educated, versatile filmmaker equally at home behind the camera, operating a splicer or wielding a pen, he spent 26 years with the NFU, mostly as a senior director. Photo credit: Archives New Zealand, reference AAQT 6401 A23,729
After 19 years working in news and current affairs at the BBC, Paul Norris returned to New Zealand in 1987 to lead TVNZ’s news and current affairs team during a period of major change (including the launch of hit show Holmes). Nine years later he left to head the NZ Broadcasting School in Christchurch. A widely respected and passionate advocate for public broadcasting, Norris died in February 2014.
Brisbane-raised Janet McIntyre moved to New Zealand in 1989, and filed reports for 3 News before moving on to 60 Minutes and 20/20. Since switching to TVNZ she has been a long-time mainstay of current affairs show Sunday. She has filed stories from Kandahar to Gloriavale, and tackled interviewees ranging from Fijian dictators to Madonna. She was named TV Journalist of the Year at the 2005 Qantas TV Awards.
New Zealand-born actor Barbara Ewing attracted early notice in 60s British horror films, and became a UK household name as buxom Agnes Fairchild on TV comedy Brass. Ewing was raised in NZ, before leaving to train at RADA in London. In 1979 she won a Feltex Award as the lead in NZ returning expat drama Rachel. Ewing has written plays and several acclaimed novels, including theatre-set bestseller The Mesmerist.
Neil Roberts discovered that he loved making television programmes while working as a parliamentary journalist. In the mid 1980s he founded independent production company Communicado, whose staff grew to more than 60. Later Roberts oversaw a period of change at Television New Zealand, during a short stint as the organisation's Television Manager. He died of cancer on 8 November 1998.
Peter Feeney is a veritable Swiss Army knife of the screen, with credits as an actor, casting director and acting tutor. Feeney's 20 year plus acting CV ranges from drama (as Rose-Noelle skipper John Glennie, in TV movie Abandoned), kids TV (The Cul de Sac), comedy (Auckland Daze), New Zealand-shot US shows (Spartacus), and film. He won rave reviews as a mad scientist in movie hit Black Sheep.
The work of writer Martin Edmond rarely slots into easy geographical or stylistic boxes. After making his screen debut as co-writer of Illustrious Energy — an evocative portrait of Chinese gold prospectors in Central Otago — Edmond has gone on to explore tales of outsiders in another three feature films, and a number of books.
Roger Donaldson is notable for spearheading the New Zealand film renaissance with Sleeping Dogs (1977). He has been busy directing in Hollywood for much of the period since. Donaldson's first Kiwi story since acclaimed drama Smash Palace (1981) was Burt Munro biopic The World’s Fastest Indian (2005) — the most successful New Zealand film on home soil until the arrival of Taika Waititi's Boy in 2010.
Journalist Mark Jennings joined new channel TV3 in 1989, to set up its South Island news operation. After becoming TV3's news chief in 1995, he won wide respect as a calm hand, competing against TVNZ's bigger budgets and arguing that news presenters ought to have journalism experience. By the time his resignation was announced in 2016, Jennings had become one of the longest serving heads of news in NZ TV history.
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.