In the mid-1990s one of Peter Peryer's photographs caused a diplomatic stir. 'Dead Steer' depicted the bloated carcass of a cow on a lonely New Zealand roadside, and the then Agriculture Minister protested its inclusion in a German exhibition of Peryer's work. This documentary from prolific arts director Shirley Horrocks examines the life and career of this important New Zealand artist. Peryer was awarded an ONZM for his contribution to photography and in 2000 became one of five inaugural laureates of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand. He died in November 2018.
Sometime actor Taika Waititi has clearly sunk his teeth into directing. His 2005 short film Two Cars, One Night was Oscar-nominated. Second feature Boy (2010) became the most successful Kiwi film released on its home soil — at least until the arrival of Waititi's fourth movie, Barry Crump inspired adventure comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople. In 2017 Marvel movie Thor: Ragnarok became an international hit.
Gaylene Preston has been making feature films and documentaries with a distinctive New Zealand flavour and a strong social message for over 30 years. In 2001 she was the first filmmaker to be made a Laureate by the Arts Foundation, recognising her contribution to New Zealand film and television.
Barry Barclay — director of landmark TV series Tangata Whenua and feature film Ngati — was a longtime campaigner for the right of indigenous people to tell their own stories, to their own people. In 2004 he was made an Arts Foundation Laureate, and in 2007 a Member of the NZ Order of Merit. Barclay passed away on 19 February 2008, after publishing his acclaimed book Mana Tuturu.
Oscar Kightley, MNZM, is a man of many talents. After launching The Naked Samoans, he worked with the comedy troupe over five seasons of hit series bro’Town, NZ's first animated show to play in prime time. The group also featured in movie Sione’s Wedding and its 2012 sequel, both of which Kightley co-wrote. In 2013 he took on a serious role: starring as a Samoan-Kiwi detective in TV series Harry.
Fiona Samuel, MNZM, has worked prolifically across so many fields that she defies labels. Aside from acting on stage and screen, she is a playwright (The Wedding Party), director (TV movies Bliss and Piece of My Heart), scriptwriter (Consent, Outrageous Fortune) and singer (musical revue Babes in the Mood).
Moana Maniapoto (MNZM) is a musician acclaimed for fusing traditional Māori and modern sounds (Moana and the Moahunters, Moana and the Tribe). With partner Toby Mills she has made award-winning films exploring Te Ao Māori, from cultural IP to activist Syd Jackson. Maniapoto has also appeared onscreen as a political commentator, fronted 90s kids show Yahoo, and played Doctor Aniwa Ryan on Shortland Street.
Actor and director Michael Hurst is a Kiwi creative institution. Even leaving aside his work as a director and stage actor, Hurst's screen resume runs to 50 roles and counting: including playing everyone from painter Toulouse-Lautrec, to Hercules's sidekick Iolaus, to politician Rodney Hide.
The late Hone Tūwhare (1922-2008) remains one of New Zealand's most loved and respected poets. Tūwhare has been the subject of numerous documentaries. He also wrote short stories and plays, and the drama Eel for anthology television series E Tipu e Rea. Tuwhare died on 16 January 2008 in Dunedin.
Roger Horrocks has been raising the quality of debate about New Zealand film and television for nigh on half a century. At Auckland University he campaigned for, then ran, the country’s first and biggest film studies course. Horrocks has written extensively about Kiwi culture, including writing the definitive book on Len Lye. He is also a filmmaker and was a founding board member of organisation NZ On Air.