NZ's Twitter top 50 - Part I

Working out who to follow on Twitter can be daunting. In part one of a two-part series, we recommend "tweeps" for new and seasoned users to follow. Some are familiar faces, others less well known, but they each contribute to the social web - with laughs, expertise or encouragement. (Read part two here.)

Taika Waititi, film-maker

@TaikaWaititi

Taika Waititi, also known as Taika Cohen, is a film director, writer, painter, comedian and actor, best known for his 2010 film Boy, which he directed and starred in.

Waititi was named one of Variety's "10 new directors to watch" in 2007 and nominated for an Academy Award for his 2003 short film Two Cars, One Night.

* Tweeted: "Dear Twitter, just a reminder that I'm still awesome."

* Followers: 11,520

* Following: 132

Rhys Darby, comedian

@rhysiedarby

The actor and comedian is probably best known by an international audience for playing Murray Hewitt, the band manager of Flight of the Conchords in the HBO series. But to Kiwis he first came on to the comedy radar for his stand-up.

Darby's popularity has only grown after taking parts in hit international movies like The Boat That Rocked and Yes Man.

He uses Twitter to promote his interests in the wonderful and the strange but also what he's up to in everyday life.

* Tweeted: "'Your grasp on prioritising is unbelievable' - my wife, as I fluff the sofa cushions while she packs the house ..."

* Followers: 79,939

* Following: 463

Sam Neill, actor/winery boss

@TwoPaddocks

The actor has a vineyard on the side, Two Paddocks, in Central Otago, which has become renowned.

Neill is best known for his starring role as paleontologist Dr Alan Grant in Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III, but has had a number of other top roles including Captain Vasily Borodin in The Hunt for Red October.

* Tweeted: "I have the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra on repeat in my car."

* Followers: 21,326

* Following: 22,067

Kerre Woodham, broadcaster/author

@KerreWoodham

Woodham used Twitter to announce that she had proposed to her long-time partner, Tom McIvor, on Leap Day this year - and that he said yes.

She first got her foothold on fame in New Zealand as a presenter on Fair Go in the late 80s.

After five seasons, Woodham left the show to take up a job on breakfast radio. She writes regularly for the Herald on Sunday.

* Tweeted: "He said yes. I'll be Mrs McIvor within the next 12 months #LeapDay."

* Followers: 2238

* Following: 236

Thom Powers, The Naked and Famous

@thomTNAF

You can partly thank Powers for the creation of the wildly successful Naked and Famous which formed in 2008 when he and Alisa Xayalith recorded two EPs with engineer Aaron Short. Since then their popularity has taken off, especially following their hit Young Blood. He tweets about what he's up to or what's on his mind.

* Tweeted: "I don't care how famous you are, get smarter and less drunk."

* Followers: 1141

* Following: 12

Wendyl Nissen, domestic goddess

@wendylnissen

Nissen has her fingers in a lot of media pies after starting in the industry as a journalist before becoming the editor of a string of women's magazines, a television producer and writer, and a popular radio commentator and columnist. Her Weekend Herald column focuses on what's really in our food.

She says her motto is: "It's okay to be a nana."

* Tweeted: "Is Ryan Gosling the hot one from The Notebook? If he isn't then I don't care that he is in the 'hood'."

* Followers: 2630

* Following: 443

Colin Mathura-Jeffree, model/TV judge

@colincitizen

After 20 years in modelling, Mathura-Jeffree has turned the tables and is now the one judging those strutting - but that hasn't stopped him pouting for the camera.

These days he is best known for his role as a judge on New Zealand's Next Top Model and for gracing the social pages in decadent clothing. He likes to use hearts and hugs a lot in his tweets.

* Tweeted: "Had the craziest fun day on set ... HOT & WET."

* Followers: 5582

* Following: 150

Anika Moa, musician

@Anika_Moa

It's been a decade since Youthful was in the charts, but chances are most Kiwis could at least hum the melody if not all the lyrics. Moa still has a sway in the music industry and last year completed a national tour for her latest album, Love in Motion.

* Tweeted: "Hey tweepsy team. Me and the missus are selling our Les Mills memberships. Anyone keen to buy them off us? You'll see lots of famous peeps!"

* Followers: 4193

* Following: 293

John Campbell, TV3 current affairs host

@JohnJCampbell

Campbell's come a long way from reading the three-minute news bulletins on Radio New Zealand in 1989 with no formal journalism qualifications. Almost 10 years later, after taking a position on the 20/20 current affairs programme, he took up the position as co-news reader on 3 News with Carol Hirschfeld where he stayed until 2005. That year he became the host of his own current affairs show, Campbell Live.

He's known for calling things "maaaaaaaaaaaaaarvellous".

* Tweeted: "Dunedin. The sky blue and infinite. As still as a day can be. 2.5 degrees. What an utterly wonderful morning."

* Followers: 29,479

* Following: 1433

Coco Solid, musician/writer

@cocosolid

With eight albums under her belt, Solid - born Jessica Hansell - has become a fixture on the local music scene but is known internationally. Her musical style is a mixture of hip-hop, disco and electronica.

* Tweeted: "What once impressed me seems so bogus thanks to time. My soul lolz at the people still all about it."

* Followers: 1158

* Following: 138

Sara Tetro, model citizen

@sara_mail

Tetro has a lot of feathers in her cap - but the former model is best known for heading the modelling agency 62 Models and for judging wannabe models on New Zealand's Next Top Model.

These days she's most recognisable for being the cause of teenage girls screaming, "Sara mail!".

* Tweeted: "Moment of horror when you realise you're singing along to your iPod in the hotel gym #putthesickdogdown."

* Followers: 4391

* Following: 606

Adam Thomson, Highlander/All Black

@adamjohnthomson

The flanker made his debut for Otago on September 17, 2004, when he started against Waikato.

In 2006, Thomson played in three Super 14 matches for the Highlanders and after his selection for the All Blacks, two years later made his debut for New Zealand against Ireland.

In 2009 he was regarded as the fastest All Black over 40m and one of the quickest forwards in world rugby.

* Tweeted: "With all this #fantasyrugby points chat on Twitter I think I'm more scared of letting you guys down than Jamie Joseph! #onlyhalfjoking."

* Followers: 7077

* Following: 93

Cory Jane, Hurricane/All Black

@CoryJane1080

Born in Lower Hutt, the winger first played for the All Blacks in 2008 and has since become a prolific tweeter - except for the Twitter blackout imposed on the players during the Rugby World Cup.

In 2006 Jane was third-equal on the Air New Zealand Cup leading try scorer list with six tries behind Richard Kahui (eight tries) and Sitiveni Sivivatu (seven tries), both from Waikato.

* Tweeted: "Wow this bath is just what I needed. Fast paced game and lots of running 2 night. #ImTiredMyBodiesWeary #BernieMacQuote ;-)."

* Followers: 53,218

* Following: 646

Robyn Malcolm, actress

@robynmalcolm

Despite a lengthy acting career, Robyn Malcolm will always be synonymous with Cheryl West. The Outrageous Fortune star first hit TV screens as Nurse Ellen Crozier in Shortland Street but has since carved a career in theatre and film as well as television.

Recently, to some, Malcolm has become as well known for her activism as for her acting.

She helped spearhead an actors' union campaign to negotiate standard contracts for actors in the Hobbit films. The producers refused, saying that collective bargaining would be considered price-fixing and illegal under New Zealand law.

Eventually the National Government made several controversial changes to employment laws, and passed legislation explicitly controlling people working on the Hobbit movies.

* Tweeted: "Nude shoot surprisingly stress free. maybe clothing is indeed the problem."

* Followers: 6875

* Following: 155

Iain O'Brien, cricket broadcaster

@iainobrien

The former New Zealand cricketer made his debut for the Black Caps in 2005 but was forced to retire this January because of chronic injury problems. He is now based in London.

O'Brien got himself in trouble via Twitter after telling his followers he had gotten over his injuries and was returning to cricket for an April Fool's prank.

Media outlets fell for the joke and the next day he was forced to apologise.

* Tweeted: "Have had long chats with MrsOB since being back. I'm going to have 1 more go at cricket. Starting tomorrow the comeback is on."

* Followers: 14,417

* Following: 179

Bevan Docherty, triathlete

@bevanjdocherty

The New Zealand triathlete has won two Olympic medals - a silver in 2004 summer in Athens and a bronze in 2008 at Beijing.

At the 2006 Commonwealth Games Docherty again won silver. He is based in California but represents New Zealand.

Docherty used Twitter to show support for All Black Piri Weepu after a debate erupted because a shot of the rugby player was cut from an anti-smoking advert.

* Tweeted: "Breast is best, but being a good Dad is better! Me bottle feeding my boy Fletcher."

* Followers: 6447

* Following: 95

Gareth Morgan, economist/Wellington Phoenix owner

@garethmorgannz

The businessman, economist, investment manager, motorcycle adventurer, public commentator and philanthropist began working for the Reserve Bank in the early 1980s before founding economics forecasting company Infometrics in 1983.

His son, Sam, founded the wildly successful Trade Me - Morgan was an early investor and director. When the company was sold in 2006, Morgan and his wife were paid $50 million for their shares.

* Tweeted: "Stop moaning about ticket prices, we're cheapest in League. Biggest game on earth, biggest NZ participation sport, no excuse #phoenixcrowds."

* Followers: 2133

* Following: 17

David Farrier, pop culture journalist

@davidfarrier

The entertainment reporter has covered the weird and wonderful - sometimes just the outright strange - for TV3's various news shows for more than five years.

When Farrier first started the job, he made a mental list of the 15 artists he wanted to meet and promised himself that once he completed his "kill list" he'd step down and do something else for a bit.

Last year he ticked the last musician off his list and in January he announced he would be stepping down as a full-time reporter at the network, but would be cropping up every now and again.

* Tweeted: "Oh lord, there's a sequel to KONY2012 releasing this week. I wonder if it will include the mastabatory meltdown?"

* Followers: 12,331

* Following: 640

David Slack, Metro columnist/public speaker

@DavidSlack

Slack's father was a farmer, his father was a farmer, and his father was a farmer and as far as the records show, it's farmers all the way back.

He claims it was only a matter of time before one of them became a speechwriter. He runs speeches.com from his home in Devonport which acts as both a blog and a speech-writing help site.

* Tweeted: "I am amongst a small stadium of people who have had to spend their adult life apologising for their musical preferences."

* Followers: 3347

* Following: 2406

Hamish Keith, arts commentator/author

@hamish_keith

Keith was awarded the OBE for services to the arts in 1981 after lengthy careers as a writer, art curator, arts consultant and social commentator.

The latest project of the Auckland-based author, who calls himself a "cultural odd job man", was the arts documentary The Big Picture which garnered three nominations at the 2008 New Zealand Screen Awards, and won Best Series and Best Music Awards.

In October 2009, the University of Waikato conferred an honorary doctorate on Keith. He is married to costume designer Ngila Dickson.

* Tweeted: "Could the NZ media stop confusing "Kiwiana" with NZ art - Kiwiana is for tea towels not for cities. TV3 & NZ Herald both guilty."

* Followers: 2170

* Following: 922

Felix Marwick, Newstalk ZB political reporter

@felixmarwick

After attaining a BA in psychology in 1994 Marwick got a Diploma in Broadcast Journalism from the NZ Broadcasting School five years later.

He was snapped up by Newstalk ZB in Christchurch in 2000 where he has worked ever since, moving to cover politics in 2006. He is currently the chief political reporter at The Radio Network.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Marwick can speak Japanese.

* Tweeted: "Too late and too weak. Labour's response to Gov't Bill proposing regulatory changes for moneylenders #loansharks."

* Followers: 1051

* Following: 381

Patrick Gower, 3 News political reporter

@patrickgowernz

Gower started his political journalism career at the Herald before moving to TV3 in 2010.

Based in Wellington in the parliamentary gallery, Gower regularly tweets with updates and opinions on what's going on within the Government.

He also has a political blog on the 3 News website where he expands on his 140 Twitter commentary.

* Tweeted: "Crusher Collins says she's not bluffing on the defamation. 'How long have you known me ... Have you ever seen me bluff?"'

* Followers: 4443

* Following: 1360

Philip Duncan, WeatherWatch.co.nz head analyst

@PhilipDuncan

In a country where everyone has something to say about the weather, few are as openly passionate about it as Philip Duncan, whose role as a point-man for weather coverage and advice sees Twitter users going to him to "turn the sun back on" when the clouds start rolling overhead.

An avowed weather geek, Duncan never tires of talking about it, and happily engages with people who want to discuss weather bombs or share pictures of the sun setting over their regions - but he admits he takes it badly when he gets a forecast wrong.

"Those that claim to get it right 95 per cent of the time are perhaps living in a dream world," he said in 2010.

Duncan is in a position to "help". It is a position he clearly takes seriously and enjoys very much.

He also knows his bounds and uses a Post-It note, attached to his computer, to guide his thinking: "You don't have to tweet every controversial thought you have."

* Tweeted: "I think I now know why Bob's hair went white in this profession."

* Followers: 934

* Following: 305

John Lai, social media commentator

@iamjohnlai

Many Kiwis are still at the point of toe-dipping in the social media pool. Business owners and operators can work themselves into a right flap while weighing up the benefits of Twitter versus Facebook, versus Google Plus, which gadgets to use them with, and so on. The web throws up potential nightmares every day.

John Lai has been smoothing over creases like these for years as an active, enthusiastic champion for professional and private social media users, and particularly for those curious about seeing what the water's like.

He explains new trends and gear both in his own feed and at his website, socialmedianz.com, in ways that anyone can understand. Technobabble without the babble.

Lai also does a fine line in sports commentary. His timeline fires up during English Premier League matches.

* Tweeted: "Sweet! I can finally scale back my Sky TV subscription to just sports and Spice ... I mean UFC pay-per view. [Thanks Netflix and Quickflix.]"

* Followers: 29,264

* Following: 695

Cate Owen, social media strategist

@CateOwen

Cate Owen is as much a driving force behind our everyday use of social media as she is behind the social strategies of her employer, MediaWorks.

She runs a blogsite at cateowen.co.nz where she shares to-the-minute advice, with a particular focus on that unruly beast Facebook, and hosts a monthly round-up of the best Kiwi tweets as nominated by her growing audience.

It works very well as a way for local "tweeps" to come together and build something that's entirely theirs, and it's not uncommon to see people tweeting bite-sized messages of joy after seeing their pearls of wisdom (or their "herp-derp" moments) making the monthly cut.

Owen's own Twitter feed is a mix of this community-building style, promotion of her employer's brands and personalities, and honest glimpses into her life. If there's a viral hit to be enjoyed, she'll share it five minutes before anyone else knows what's hit them.

* Tweeted: "God help me, I almost bought a jumpsuit off Trade Me. I'm just one click away from my Crazy Cat Lady membership being upgraded to gold."

* Followers: 4502

* Following: 1255

- NZ Herald

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