Vale Tony Hiles

It is with regret that we record the passing of one of our colleagues, Tony Hiles.

Tony arrived in Wellington from England in the mid-sixties and started making commercials for Stan Wemyss’ production house. In 1969 he moved to TVNZ to direct and produce a variety of shows – factual, magazine, and comedy. High energy with a cutting sense of humour, Tony enlivened the Avalon TV centre (and club) for a decade.

1980 saw Tony and partner Judith Fife (at the time a TV presenter and now a lawyer) start their own production company – City Associates – making social documentaries.

Flight of Fancy marked the start of a life-long creative relationship with painter Michael Smither. In Flight of Fancy, Michael built wings and tried to fly. The film won a special jury prize at the NZ Adventure Film Festival.

A credit for consultant producer on Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste was followed by his own feature film Jack Brown Genius which he wrote and directed. Described as “a romantic comedy fantasy”, it was another film about flying. This time a modern inventor channels a tenth century monk to create a flying machine. The film won him a Best Director award at the NZ Film and Television Awards.

In 2009 Tony started a series of documentaries about Michael Smither, each one screening in the NZIFF. He was working on the last one when he was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia – Lewy Body Dementia. Tony was determined to find a positive in it and commenced recording his experience for other sufferers.

As he says on his website “I’m determined to die laughing.”

He is survived by partner Judith, daughter Jo (production manager), sons Chris (sound recordist) and Trent, and stepson Jock.


Howard Taylor

Last updated on 9 February 2021