Issue date: 
Monday, 22 August 2022

We would like to acknowledge and thank Dame Kerry Prendergast as she finishes a remarkable six year tenure as NZFC Chair.

It’s been an extraordinary time in the film sector throughout Dame Kerry’s two terms, marked by significant successes and huge growth both domestically and internationally.  In the 2020/2021 period, production expenditure was recorded at $985m. Since 2016 when she began her first term, the NZFC has funded 99 feature films, including titles like Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Cousins, Poi-e, The Power of the Dog, Whina, and Muru.

Dame Kerry’s commitment and dedication to the screen sector and to filmmakers has been outstanding. She has helped the NZFC secure a broad range of new funding programmes, supporting those whose voices have been historically under-represented, she has assisted in building and maintaining international relations, and helped the NZFC navigate the challenges the global pandemic has caused the screen sector.

In 2016, under Dame Kerry’s guidance, the NZFC led the way in addressing the gender imbalance within the film industry offering a scholarship programme for women.  This was followed up in 2018 with the launch of the 125 Fund, celebrating 125 years since women won the right to vote.  Alongside CEO Annabelle Sheehan, Dame Kerry championed the cause of New Zealand women filmmakers, encouraging their voices to be heard.

The 125 fund was part of a larger plan for inclusion and diversity in the New Zealand screen sector. In 2019 a designated production fund to support Pasifika filmmakers was launched, and then further funding allocated to other groups of filmmakers from a range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, including the LGBTQI community and those with disabilities.

Dame Kerry also oversaw the development of Te Rautaki Māori, a strategy based on developing an ongoing partnership with the Māori screen industry. With the support of Dame Kerry, in 2022 the NZFC developed its own Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, ensuring the organisation proactively supports the aspirations of staff, filmmakers, storytellers, stakeholders, and audiences.

Dame Kerry’s time with the NZFC has seen the screen sector face some of its biggest challenges, most notably the global pandemic. The Board, led by Dame Kerry, approved use of reserves to support screen practitioners to not only develop new projects, but also adjust to the opportunities and challenges of the changing environment.  Dame Kerry worked tirelessly to advocate for filmmakers and productions affected by lockdowns and border closures. In one particular case, where a production needed one key actor to travel from Wellington to Auckland to complete a final scene during lockdown, Dame Kerry’s persistence, political experience and connections, helped the production complete its project.    

Dame Kerry was a passionate ambassador for the NZ screen sector and was pivotal in strengthening ties between the NZ and Chinese industries.  In her former role as mayor of Wellington, she had visited China on countless occasions, and was extremely well-versed in navigating the cultural, political, social and economic considerations specific to that country.  Her mana, consummate professionalism, and deep knowledge of—and appreciation for—China played a key role in the success of these visits.

Once again, we would like to offer our sincere gratitude to Dame Kerry for her leadership of the NZFC, and the support and advocacy she has provided the wider screen industry over the last six years.  We wish her the very best for the future.


Last updated: 
Monday, 22 August 2022