I was born in Christchurch and shifted to Auckland aged eight when my father took a teaching job at Dilworth School.
I began my working life as a reporter for a small suburban newspaper, the Papakura Ribbon, then joined the Auckland Star – although my first scoop was at kindergarten, when I raced home and told my parents “Boy fell in pond!” (which is now my email address). I’m proud of that headline. (If I was ever tempted to write my memoir, that would be the title – although first I should track down that boy and make sure he survived the pond experience.)
After newspapers I went on to radio and television. Being something of a workaholic and control freak I was soon a chief reporter (South Pacific TV’s Auckland office) then programme editor of TVNZ’s nightly news magazine show Top Half. Later Neil Roberts and Robin Scholes at Communicado entrusted me with producing top-rating shows like That’s Fairly Interesting and Heroes, which went on to run for several series. Many of these shows I helped to launch.
I am the proud father of four grown children. I began making up stories for them many years ago. Now I have grandchildren, and I enjoy making home movies with them.
I was raised an Anglican and in the 1970s attended St Paul’s in Symonds Street. I joined All Saints Ponsonby in 2010 after the death of my wife Noelene. I like All Saints because it is in my neighbourhood – I live in Herne Bay, and back in the 1970s I lived in Freemans Bay when I was working as a journalist/editor for the local giveaway newspaper the West End News. The All Saints congregation is a mix of ages and ethnicities which matches the makeup of Ponsonby, and it is a friendly and inclusive community.
My early stories were written for the Auckland Star children’s page, and later as a young father I wrote and illustrated short books for my children. My first endeavours at writing were inspired by my hyperactive teenage daughter Mandy, who has since worked with me as script editor and producer. And my deeply learned brother Peter has written books (The Aeden Trilogy, The Nautilus Project) which I will turn into movies if I live long enough.
I would never pretend to be a highbrow reader or writer. Although I may have read some classics in my time, I confess that my childhood favourites were adventure stories like Biggles, Hornblower, Coral Island and Hiawatha … and comics. I have only recently managed to finish The Catcher in the Rye (which I was meant to read at university years ago), and I am currently struggling to finish All the Light we cannot see. Both great books.
I have always enjoyed popular music, and after a brief classical stint (when my supportive father bought me a clarinet), I switched to rock ‘n’ roll. In the 60s I was a guitarist with the Bluestars band, which played at suburban nightspots and dance events before the days of pub gigs. My friend Murray Savidan wrote Please be a little kind which we recorded and miraculously had released on Decca in England. I penned a rather tuneless song called Social End Product which has become a minor garage/punk classic. But movies are my first love, and I am happy to focus on writing scripts. Murray and I now write scripts together instead of songs.
I have been a TV producer, director and writer. In 1994, after years at TVNZ then Communicado, I founded Greenstone TV which became New Zealand’s most prolific producer of factual series. Greenstone operated (and still does) in NZ and Australia – producing dozens of documentaries (like The Saga of the Rose Noelle), factual series (Highway Patrol, The Zoo, Neighbours at War, Dog Squad etc) and family drama series (Stephen Campbell’s Amazing Extraordinary Friends). All these shows sell around the world. We won awards for many of them, including the historical re-enactment series Epitaph which Paul Gittins and I co-created, and I then produced. I also directed some episodes, and wrote or overwrote many of the scripts. I sold Greenstone TV in November 2013 and this enabled me to become a fulltime screen writer: my lifelong dream.
Although my passport tells me I am no longer a spring chicken, I am young at heart. I go to the gym and to church regularly, and in March 2021 I married my longtime friend Jan. She is a former teacher who loves books and movies and is able to help me polish my manuscripts. My dream is to stay in New Zealand and continue to write books, and make ‘small movies with a big heart’ which sell internationally. Is that too much to ask?!