Announcing the 2018 WIFT NZ Mana Wāhine Award recipient

Posted Monday 30 Apr 2018

Women in Film & Television (WIFT) NZ and the Wairoa Māori Film Festival Inc. are delighted to announce the 2018 WIFT NZ Mana Wāhine Award recipient is the extremely talented Ainsley Gardiner.

The Award will be presented at the Wairoa Māori Gala Film Awards at the iconic Gaiety Theatre, Wairoa, on Saturday June 2.

Ainsley (Te Whānau-A-Apanui, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Awa)

Ainsley Gardiner has a long and impressive body of work and screen industry experience.  She graduated from the Avalon Film and TV production course in 1995, going on to intern for Larry Parr at Kahukura Production. Though she wanted to write and direct, she fell into producing, co-producing the 26-part Lovebites series, and short film, The Hole (1998). She went on to produce the 'low-budget' feature film Kombi Nation (2003) in Europe.

In 2004 she established Whenua Films with actor Cliff Curtis, to promote indigenous storytelling on screen. They produced Taika Waititi's award-winning short films, Two Cars One Night (2003), and Tama T? (2004), then his first two features, Eagle vs Shark (2007), and the incredibly successful Boy (2010). She wrote and directed her first short film Mokopuna in 2007.

At the same time, Ainsley was appointed to Te Paepae Ataata, which was born out of the aspirations of the pioneers Māori film-makers, Barry Barclay, Merata Mita, Tama Poata, Don Selwyn, Tungia Baker and Wi Kuki Kaa, all of whom are now deceased. They set a high standard for creative excellence and Māori integrity. Te Paepae Ataata was set up in 2008 to nurture and celebrate a Māori cinematic voice and to provide an alternative development pathway for M?ori filmmakers.

In 2015 Ainsley founded Miss Conception Films with Georgina Conder. Their new production company is focused on female-lead character driven projects with female key creatives, epitomised by their latest film as producers, The Breaker Upperers, premiering this month in New Zealand.  Ainsley works hard to mentor emerging filmmakers.

In 2017, Ainsley made her debut as a feature film director, working alongside seven other M?ori female directors to make the powerful film Waru, which has won critical acclaim nationally and internationally. She balances all this with being a mother of a young family.


The WIFT Mana Wāhine Award recognises and supports the achievements of Māori Women in film and television who work tirelessly, diligently and with vision to support and promote Māori culture, Te Reo Māori, Tikanga Māori and the welfare and stories of wāhine. The Award was first initiated in 2011 by Wairoa Māori Film Festival director Leo Koziol and his mother Huia Koziol.

Tickets for the Awards Gala and Film Festival can be booked at Eventfinda - Māori Film Awards only $50, Full Festival Pass including Awards $150

Click here for Festival Pass >>

Click here for Gala Tickets >>


The Wairoa Māori Film Festival this year has 13 screenings with over 50 shorts, and five feature dramas / documentaries. Screenings are held in Kahungunu Marae, Nuhaka, famed for featuring in scenes from John O'Shea's BROKEN BARRIER in 1955. For the fourth year, the festival will also be at the reopened Gaiety Theatre in Wairoa. Keynote speaker at the Awards Night will be infamous activist and esteemed artist Tame Iti. A selection of the Māori and Pasifika short films screening at the festival will go on to comprise the New Zealand International Film Festival Ngā Whanaunga programme which will premiere in Auckland later this year. Closing night is "Bush Cinema" underground shorts at Morere hot springs, with the pools open late into the night. Both WARU and THE BREAKER UPPERERS will be screened as part of the 2018 programme. The Wairoa Māori Film Festival is sponsored by the New Zealand Film Commission, Radio Waatea, Te Matarae O Te Wairoa Trust and Wairoa District Council. The entire programme can now be viewed online at: