Comedian (and rooster) Oscar Kightley fronts this 2013 beginner’s guide to the Chinese zodiac. His mission: to explore the 12 oriental star signs. As the Kiwi population heads towards one in six being of Asian origin, Kightley surveys a cavalcade of contemporary Kiwi personalities for their views on stargazing, from his Harry co-star Sam Neill to lawyer Mai Chen. This excerpt is a potted history of the oriental zodiac, aided by animation; then it's enter the dragon. Made for TV3’s Inside New Zealand documentary strand it was directed by bro’Town creator Elizabeth Mitchell.
PI Kiwi Oscar Kightley is a writer, actor, presenter and director. After co-creating The Naked Samoans, he worked with the comedy troupe on five seasons of hit series bro’Town, NZ's first animated show to play in prime-time. Kightley has also worked with the Samoans as an actor and writer in hit feature Sione’s Wedding and its 2012 sequel. In 2013 he took on a serious role, starring as the detective in TV series Harry.
His name was synonymous with entertainment in New Zealand. Dubbed Ol' Brown Eyes — Māoridom's version of Frank Sinatra — Howard Morrison's voice and charisma carried him through decades of success both here and abroad. From the Howard Morrison Quartet to time as a solo performer, Morrison's take on songs like 'How Great Thou Art' ensured his waiata an enduring place at the top of local playlists.
Elizabeth Mitchell made her name as creator and producer of animated hit bro'Town, which screened for five seasons and won multiple awards. Since then she has produced short films and directed documentaries, and is currently developing a feature based on Oscar Kightley's award-winning short Tom's Dairy.
Ray Columbus, OBE, began hosting television shows at the tender age of 19. After Columbus and the Invaders topped Australasian charts with 1964 single 'She's a Mod', Columbus spent time as a musician in America. The song was covered multiple times. He later returned to Aotearoa to resume a long career as recording artist, TV presenter and talent manager. Columbus passed away in late November 2016.
Although generally regarded as New Zealand's most successful international photographer, Brian Brake also worked in motion pictures, as both director and cinematographer. At the Government's National Film Unit he directed the first Kiwi film nominated for an Academy Award (Snows of Aorangi). Later he worked for prestigious photo agency Magnum, and featured in photo journals Life and National Geographic.
Nick Ward broke into screenwriting with pool comedy Stickmen. An instant Kiwi hit, the film won him a New Zealand Film Award for Best Screenplay in 2001. He went on to originate and co-write hit romance Second-Hand Wedding, then reconvened with Wedding director Paul Murphy for follow-up Love Birds. In 2019 he created television black comedy Fresh Eggs with Kim Harrop. Ward has also penned episodes of series Outrageous Fortune and Burying Brian, and horror flick The Ferryman.
Kathryn Burnett is a screenwriter, playwright and script consultant. Her scriptwriting credits include Fresh Eggs and The Cul de Sac, and award-winners The Amazing Extraordinary Friends, The Strip, Holly's Heroes and short film Shelved. Past recipient of a British Council television scholarship, Burnett co-created 2009 drama series The Cult. She also teaches screenwriting workshops.
One of New Zealand's best known screen actors, Sam Neill possesses a blend of everyman ordinariness, charm and good looks that have made him an international leading man. His resume of television and 70+ feature films includes leading roles in landmark New Zealand movies, from a man alone on the run in breakout feature Sleeping Dogs to the repressed settler in The Piano.
Colin Mathura-Jeffree found TV fame as the innuendo-dropping host of New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker and New Zealand’s Next Top Model. Prior to presenting, his modelling career had taken him to Europe, Singapore and India, including work for Versace and Jean Paul Gaultier. He was born in New Zealand to an Indian mother (a model) and a European father. Mathura-Jeffree also acts; he was cast in 2008 Bollywood downunder movie Love Has No Language. In 2015 he competed on Dancing With The Stars, before playing a Kiwi cricket star in Athina Tsoulis' romantic comedy Stars In Her Eyes.