Every year around Christmas time, the Auckland Domain is lit up for a star-filled night of free Christmas celebrations. Hosted by Jay Laga’aia, this 2000 edition of the concert has “more than 300,000 people” gathered for an evening of songs, carols and fireworks. Kicking off with a Christmas rap from Anthony Ray Parker and kids, the celebrations go long into the night. Stepping up to the mic are everyone from Tina Cross, Frankie Stevens and Ainslie Allen, to the cast of Shortland Street and Mai Time. The evening is capped off with a fireworks display and the arrival of Santa Claus.
The Fantasy Cave is a DIY Disneyland built in the town of Dannevirke. Created by a group of older locals known as ‘Cave Dwellers’ as a Christmas-themed grotto in 1989, the cave has evolved to become a quirky tourist attraction, encompassing animatronics and astral light displays. Directed by Michelle Savill (Ellen is Leaving) and cinematographer Matt Henley, this 2015 Loading Docs short introduces us to the horse-headed retirees and their homespun wonderlands, and the happiness they find in “making stuff”.
New Plymouth-raised Melanie Lynskey made her screen debut as Pauline Parker in the Oscar-nominated Heavenly Creatures (1994). Since then she has starred in Kiwi films Snakeskin and Show of Hands, and cultivated a career in Hollywood. Her long stateside CV now includes Two and a Half Men, The Informant! and starring roles in indie movie Hello I Must Be Going and acclaimed cable TV series Togetherness.
The late, great, Davina Whitehouse arrived in New Zealand from England in 1952, having already performed in more than 40 films. Active across multiple mediums — radio, stage, television and film — she also spent four years as an NZ Film Commission board-member. Whitehouse was still acting into her 80s.
Yvonne Mackay is a prolific director of New Zealand television, whose work has often focused on the arts and projects made for young people. She made history as the director of The Silent One (1984), the first New Zealand feature film directed solely by a woman. These days Mackay runs Wellington company Production Shed TV.
One shaggy dog, dozens of humans, and a smorgasbord of Kiwi scenery: viewers were glued to the screen for this TV One promotional campaign, which began screening in August 1991. The six-part promo followed a lovable sydney silky poodle cross travelling the country by car, train and paw. En route, roughly 50 Kiwis make blink and you'll miss it appearances: including sporting figures, local townspeople, and 20+ TV personalities (see backgrounder for more info, and clues on who is who). The popular promos were directed by Lee Tamahori, before he made Once Were Warriors.
With the movie Savage Honeymoon and classic TV show Outrageous Fortune, Mark Beesley established himself as the man to call when dealing with rough and tumble families from West Auckland. Elsewhere the talented director and sometime producer has shown his gift for melding comedy and drama on The Almighty Johnsons, Insiders Guide to Happiness, and Xena: Warrior Princess.
Christchurch-born Will Hall got his big break playing the average joe who has strange visions after an incident in a car wash, in acclaimed 2004 series Insiders Guide to Happiness. Hall went on to appear on prequel Insiders Guide to Love, then spent two years on Shortland Street, as skateboarding doctor Kip Denton. Hall also plays the baddie in Canterbury-shot movie Western Netherwood, which he helped to produce.
By the time she'd graduated from drama school Toi Whakaari, Chelsie Preston Crayford had won an award for acclaimed short Fog and acted in three feature films, including starring in Home by Christmas as her own grandmother. She has gone on to play a cult member (TV series The Cult) and Katherine Mansfield's lover (telemovie Bliss). She also won awards in Australia for TV thriller The Code and a starring role as a crimelord in the 1920s edition of Underbelly. In 2017 she co-starred in big screen drama The Inland Road. She is the daughter of director Gaylene Preston and musician Jonathan Crayford.
David Paul's work as a cameraman and director of photography covers the gamut, from documentary and dramas to shorts, commercials and feature films. His CV includes award-winning work on telemovies Tangiwai - A Love Story and Until Proven Innocent, plus Edmund Hillary miniseries Hillary.