Television producer and director Ross Jennings has died of cancer at 71

Ross Jennings pictured on the right, alongside the cast of his Good Friday passion play "They Crucified him": Seto Uti, ...
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Ross Jennings pictured on the right, alongside the cast of his Good Friday passion play "They Crucified him": Seto Uti, Andrew Malele, Pio Iosefo, and Pio Faalogo.

One of New Zealand's most prolific television producers, Ross Jennings passed away on Good Friday. 

The 71-year-old husband and father of six died after an ongoing cancer battle. 

His daughter Kinta Jennings spoke about the fact her father died on Good Friday, just a year after he directed They Crucified Him - a play about Jesus dying on Good Friday. 

She told the New Zealand Herald her grandmother also died on Good Friday, so they thought their father's passing on the same day was "quite fitting and nice for the family to think about". 

READ MORE: 
Passion play full of Pacific flavour

Fifty years ago

 


Ross Jennings was the mastermind behind some of New Zealand's biggest shows - Middlemore, Tala Pasifika, Marae DIY,  Police Ten-7, and he developed Maori TV's annual Anzac broadcasts.

Jennings was born in Hawera, where he lived until he was about 15, at which point he travelled to England where he got his first taste of directing. 

When he returned home one of his first projects was working on Country Calendar.

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According to New Zealand on Screen, it was on this show Jennings was responsible for New Zealand's first example of full-frontal male nudity on screen - musterers with a penchant for skinny dipping.

He directed New Zealand's first soap, Close to Home, and a host of children's dramas including Children of Fire Mountain and Under the Mountain, and before he died he was in the process of making a reality series for Maori Television which would take a peek behind the curtain of Parliament.

Jennings is survived by his wife Carmel Jennings, six children, and five grandchildren.

 - Stuff

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