Southern success stories featured in new series

Former Otago Girls High School head girl Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, the first woman to lead the City of London, chair the Royal Opera House and become provost of Kings College Cambridge. Photo: ODT file
Former Otago Girls High School head girl Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, the first woman to lead the City of London, chair the Royal Opera House and become provost of Kings College Cambridge. Photo: ODT file

New Zealand has a long and enduring relationship with the United Kingdom and thousands of Kiwis touch down for their OE or holidays there every year.

Many end up staying, living their dreams or embarking on a totally new career path.

Some achieve high profiles while others find comfort in remaining almost unknown outside their sphere of business.

Dream Catchers (TV One, April 21 at 3.55pm) is a factual series that reveals and highlights some of New Zealand's most successful expats.

Southern people feature strongly throughout the eight-part series.

"The series discovers what motivates them and what it is about them as New Zealanders that makes them successful," programme writer, director and producer Hilary Timmins says.

"We feature more than 32 remarkable Kiwis across a diverse range of occupations."

Grammy Award-winning baritone Jonathan Lemalu. Photo: TVNZ
Grammy Award-winning baritone Jonathan Lemalu. Photo: TVNZ

Each programme explores a different theme - Arts and culture, entertainment, high performance, global leaders, food and wine, home and gardens, film and fashion, and entrepreneurs.

Among the southern subjects are former Fortune Theatre stage manager Milly Olykan, who is now vice president of AEG Presents, one of the largest event and festival companies in the UK, Grammy Award-winning baritone Jonathan Lemalu and former Otago Girls High School head girl Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, the first woman to lead the City of London, chair the Royal Opera House and become provost of Kings College Cambridge.

As well, there is University of Otago home science graduate and international food stylist Elaine Ngan, whose clients include major UK supermarkets and consumer brands such as McDonalds and KFC.

Two southern businessmen also feature - former King's High School pupil Barrie Neilson, who arrived in the UK with £32 and now has the largest privately owned flotilla holiday sailing businesses in the world, and Dunedin-born and educated philanthropist Kent Gardner, who has had some of London’s iconic landmark buildings, including  "The Gherkin" in his property portfolio.

Kent Gardner, who has had some of London’s iconic landmark buildings, including  "The Gherkin" (centre) in his property portfolio. Photo: Reuters
Kent Gardner, who has had some of London’s iconic landmark buildings, including "The Gherkin" (centre) in his property portfolio. Photo: Reuters

"Dream Catchers explores what brought them to the UK, why they stayed, the secrets of their success and their continuing connections to New Zealand,"
Ms Timmins says.

She calls the programme "entertaining, enlightening and honest".

"These are stories are a testament to what it means to be a New Zealander, whether at home or thousands of kilometres away."

Ms Timmins moved to the UK not long after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and became involved in many of the fundraising events in London.

"The quake was a catalyst that brought many UK-based New Zealanders together.

"During this time I meet some extraordinary Kiwis and the idea to share their stories was ignited."

Barrie Neilson with Hilary Timmins at Corfu marina. Photo: TVNZ
Barrie Neilson with Hilary Timmins at Corfu marina. Photo: TVNZ

She put a trailer together in 2014 to attract broadcast interest but unable to get the project commissioned, she sought funding elsewhere.

“I really believed these stories needed to be told and was fortunate to receive support from some key individuals and the Kiwi networks in London like Kea, the New Zealand Society and NZ-UK Link.

"This has been a long labour of love for me and I’m so happy that the series will now screen on TVNZ and that we can share the success of these inspirational New Zealanders back home.”

Ultimately, Ms Timmins would like to develop Dream Catchers into an educational aid for New Zealand schools.

"Once it has broadcast, I  hope is to make the series available, along with another 30 stories already filmed, on educational platforms in New Zealand."

The Fortune Theatre. Photo: ODT files
Former Fortune Theatre stage manager Milly Olykan, who is now vice president of AEG Presents, one of the largest event and festival companies in the UK. Photo: ODT files

She sees it as a motivation tool for young New Zealanders setting out in life.

"How many of us leave school without any real idea of what we want to do?

”With further funding and sponsorship, this can become an on-going career motivational resource.

"We can tell stories about New Zealanders all over the world and encourage young people to live their dreams, no matter how big, whether overseas or at home in New Zealand.”

Among those involved in the production are Oscar-nominated editor Kant Pan, Golden Globe-nominated sound designer, New Zealander Blair Jollands, who also did the original music, and Oscar-winning sound mixer, New Zealander Mike Hedges.

* The eight part series will begin screening on TVNZ 1 on Saturday, April 2 at 4pm and will also be available at TVNZ OnDemand.

EPISODE ONE: ARTS AND CULTURE
Many New Zealanders are at the forefront of arts and culture in the United Kingdom bringing a unique New Zealand perspective to the country that ironically helped shape us. In episode one, Dream Catchers meets a New Zealander who is in his 16th year at the helm of the United Kingdom’s oldest contemporary dance company, the Kiwi drama coach who has trained a generation of top British talent including Damien Lewis, Daniel Craig and Lily James, the former stage manager at Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre who now heads events and festivals at London’s most recognisable events centre, and the founder of Ngati Ranana, New Zealand’s London iwi.

EPISODE TWO: ENTERTAINMENT
The United Kingdom is home to some of the world’s most prestigious arts and entertainment organisations. Episode two catches up with Kiwi performers starring on that competitive world stage. We meet a Grammy Award-winning opera star still at the top after 20 years, go backstage with the Kiwi comedian who has shared the limelight with Priscilla Presley and Steve Martin, see why a young ballerina who has been compared with the legendary Margot Fonteyn is now principal dancer at one of the UK’s top ballet companies, and discover what inspired the brilliant New Zealand mime artist who has everyone talking.

EPISODE THREE: HIGH PERFORMANCE
New Zealand is a country renowned for its love of sports and extreme thrills and in this dynamic episode we meet some of those Kiwis living their high-octane dreams in the United Kingdom. Dream Catchers takes to the skies with a high flying New Zealand RAF Red Arrow aerobatic pilot, we meet a former New Zealand sports star building a gym empire in the UK, we get a peek behind the scenes of the hard work that goes into being part of the UK-based New Zealand High Performance Equestrian Team, and get a rare opportunity to see inside the McLaren Formula One headquarters honouring New Zealand motorsport hero Bruce Mclaren before taking to the track with the young Kiwi at the forefront of Formula E. 

EPISODE FOUR: GLOBAL LEADERS
As the first country to give women the vote, New Zealand is a nation founded on ground-breaking approaches to shaping the world we live in. In episode four Dream Catchers gets to meet some of those New Zealanders building on that legacy, leading global empires based in the UK and making the world of difference. In its 1000-year history the first woman to lead The City of London was a Kiwi and we find out what she’s doing now and how she led the charge for change. We also meet meet two New Zealanders who are heading up global brands. One heads a British company worth more than double NZ’s entire GDP,  the other is in charge of Richard Branson’s Virgin empire. And finally we travel to Oxford and speak with the Kiwi who heads Oxford University’s first School of Government.

EPISODE FIVE: FOOD AND WINE
New Zealand may have been a late developer on the global culinary scene but with all the diverse influences of a multi cultural society and a taste for travel it was always just a matter of time before those fusions of flavour would come to the fore. Peter Gordon is recognised as one of the first chefs to bring those unique flavours to the world We spend time with him at his London home and meet some of the other New Zealanders who have passed through his famous Marylebone restaurant and gone on to have their own successful careers in London’s competitive food and wine industries. Dream Catchers also goes on set with the Kiwi food stylist who travels the world working for some of the most well known international brands.

EPISODE SIX: HOMES AND GARDENS
In episode six, Dream Catchers travels deep into the Suffolk countryside to the idyllic retreat of a Kiwi who is one of the United Kingdom’s top interior designers. We reveal the connection between Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace and a New Zealand artist We hang out with hipsters in Shoreditch and talk to the Kiwi architect who made it into the Guinness World Records, and take a stroll through a sculpture park in Surrey with the New Zealand landscape designer connected to the Beatles.

EPISODE SEVEN: FILM AND FASHION
Dream Catchers meets the New Zealand designers making an impact on the world of film and fashion. We visit BAFTA and spend time with an award-winning production designer who’s worked with Leonardo DiCaprio, Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy and Robin Williams. We find out what goes into creating music composition and sound design with a Golden Globe-nominated Kiwi and go backstage at London Fashion Week with one of our most famous fashion exports before meeting the New Zealand textile designer whose fabric designs are used by many of the world’s leading fashion labels.

EPISODE EIGHT: ENTREPRENEURS
New Zealanders are renowned for being innovative and practical. In the final episode of Dream Catchers we meet the Kiwis who have arrived in the UK, seen a gap in the market and gone for it. From coffee and sailing, to consultancy and property investment, these trailblazers have created their own success stories. We travel to Corfu in Greece to meet the Kiwi with the world’s largest holiday sailing fleet, talk to the woman who used her flying knowledge to build a global consultancy business, meet the man who introduced our iconic flat white to London, and spend time with the Kiwi property investor and philanthropist who has owned some of London’s landmark buildings.   

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