Issue date: 
Saturday, 1 July 2017

The New Zealand Film Commission  (NZFC) is pleased to announce the recipients of the Ramai Hayward Directors' Scholarship for wahine Māori.

Congratulations to Briar Grace Smith and Rachel House who will each receive $50,000 to develop their film scripts and directing skills, with the goal of directing their first feature films.

“A wahine Māori filmmaker has not helmed a feature fim since Merata Mita made Mauri in 1988,” says NZFC CEO Dave Gibson. “The 30 years between then and now is too long, given the talent we recognise in wahine Māori in the industry.  We hope this scholarship will boost the careers of the two recipients and encourage other wahine Māori to recognise feature filmmaking as an achievable career path.”

Eleven applications were received from a diverse range of wahine Māori film practitioners. These applications were assessed by a panel of representatives from Ngā Aho Whakaari (the Māori screen industry organisation), the NZFC and wāhine Māori screen professionals, with input from international assessors at the Sundance Institute’s Native Programme.

Four applicants were shortlisted to meet with the panel in Auckland, where final selections were recommended.

This scholarship will help fund a bespoke programme of support for each recipient tailored to suit the individual’s circumstances and career path. 

The NZFC plans to support all the scholarship applicants by inviting them to a hui to share experiences, discuss career opportunities and foster a network of peers in the film industry.

Rachel House
Rachel House (Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Mutunga) has worked as both an actor and director performing in films such as the award winning Whale Rider, Taika Waititi’s Eagle vs Shark, Boy, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor and Dana Rotburg’s White Lies and currently Monkey with See Saw Films and Robyn Scholes.

Behind the cameras she has worked as an acting and performance coach with teenagers and children on the films Boy, Fantail, Everything We Loved, Hunt for the Wilderpeople and The Dark Horse, among others.

She has won numerous awards, most recently in 2016  when she was co-awarded the WIFT (Women in Film and Television) Mana Wahine award which acknowledges “trailblazing Māor women” both in front of and behind the camera.

Briar Grace Smith
Briar Grace-Smith descends from Ngā Puhi and is an award-winning writer of plays, screenplays and short stories.

In 2000, Briar received the Arts Foundation Laureate award and was recently (2016) awarded the Te Pou Marohi Ngā Aho Whakaari Melissa Wikaire Memorial Award - for tenacity and strength in bringing our stories to the screen.

Her writing for television includes Fishskin Suit, Being Eve and Kaitangata Twitch. She is currently a writer on the Australian Children’s series, Grace Beside Me. Briar’s first screenplay, The Strength of Water was selected for the Sundance screenwriters and directors labs and premiered at Rotterdam and Berlin Film Festivals in February 2009.

In 2016 she wrote and directed the short film Charm as part of the portmaneau film, Waru, which will have its World Premiere in the 2017 New Zealand International Film Festival.

Last updated: 
Monday, 3 July 2017