The family of producer Ross Jennings say they are taking solace in the fact their father died on Good Friday, a year after directing a play about Jesus dying on the same day.

The entertainment industry is in shock at the passing of one of the country's most experienced and prolific TV producers.

The 71-year-old died peacefully after a battle with cancer late Friday night.

Mr Jennings created New Zealand's first reality series Middlemore and Police Ten-7.


He had been the executive producer, created and developed the Anzac broadcasts on Maori TV.

Mr Jennings was born in Hawera in 1944.

He is survived by his wife Carmel Jennings and six children - two girls and four boys - and five grandchildren.

His daughter Kinta Jennings told the Herald her father was "a great man".

Last year he directed They Crucified Him, a Passion play which portrayed Jesus' last days on Earth. It featured a largely Pacific Island cast.

"It was about Jesus dying on Good Friday and our Dad died on Good Friday, so did our grandmother," Ms Jennings said.

"So we thought that was quite fitting and nice for the family to think about."

Mr Jennings was an early TV drama veteran, and did a long stint at Screentime where he was the man behind Police Ten-7, and was very involved with Maori TV's Anzac coverage in recent years.


He also has the distinction of producing one of our most celebrated failures, Melody Rules, which he was always very good humoured about.

Entertainer and friend Gray Bartlett says a highlight of his career was working with Mr Jennings at Pacific Entertainment.

He says he was a great optimist and a wonderful man.

Ross Jennings was in the middle of making a reality series about the demystification of Parliament, which is due to screen on Maori Television later this year.