WIFT NZ Mana Wahine Award recipient 2023

Posted Tuesday 19 Sep 2023

WIFT NZ Mana Wahine Award recipient 2023
Women in Film & Television (WIFT) NZ and the Wairoa Māori Film Festival Inc. are delighted to announce that the 2023 WIFT NZ Mana Wahine Award recipient is Karen Sidney (Te Aitanga a Māhaki, Rongowhakaata, Rongomaiwahine).

This Award will be presented at the WIFT NZ Awards on 29 February 2024.

Karen first became interested in filmmaking when she visited Geoff Murphy’s set on The Quiet Earth in 1985. She secured a role in the art department for local miniseries Heart of the High Country in the same year. In 1986, Karen attended the first hui of Te Manu Aute, after which she became an administrator for this prominent and iconic group of Māori filmmakers, including Barry Barclay, Merata Mita, Don Selwyn and Wi Kuki Kaa. She attended the filmmaking course run by Don Selwyn and Barry Barclay.  

After graduating, Karen moved into documentary, producing A Whale’s Tale in 1992. She wrote the drama Kahu & Maia (1994), starring Cliff Curtis, Vanessa Rare and Glynis Paraha. That year Kahu & Maia screened at Dreamspeakers Film Festival in Canada, where it won the Alanis Obomsawin Award for best film. In 2002 Sidney worked with Melissa Wikaere and Joanna Paul to develop Aroha, the first ever series of love stories told entirely in te reo. She also wrote and produced one of the stories, Mataora

In 2012, Karen worked with Whetu Fala, as a writing mentor and producer for the first Ngā Aho series of short films funded by Ngā Aho Whakaari. In 2016, Karen and Whetu were EP for short film Ukaipo Whenua. She produced the documentary Te Wao Nui in 2020, and in 2022 was AP for the hugely successful Dame Valerie Adams documentary, More Than Gold.

For much of the last fifteen years, Karen has done such things as lecture in film studies in Whangarei, managed community TV Station Channel North, and worked at Creative Northland to foster Māori creative arts capabilities in Tai Tokerau.  

The WIFT Mana Wahine 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.

Due to ongoing challenges post-Cyclone Gabrielle (roading, transportation, accommodation) the organisers of this year’s festival have decided to postpone the festival until 2024.

“Our usual date for the festival is King’s Birthday weekend (formerly Queen’s Birthday), and this has always been a popular time that people knew our festival was on,” says Festival Director Leo Koziol. “We are hopeful to go ahead next year on King’s Birthday weekend and will start planning now for a ‘double’ festival with films from 2023 and 2024.”

An important part of the Wairoa Māori Film Festival is presentation of the WIFT NZ Mana Wahine Award. Discussions with Women in Film & Television (WIFT) NZ has resulted in the decision that the 2023 Mana Wahine Award will be presented at the WIFT NZ Awards on 29 February. “We are thankful for WIFT NZ accommodating this request to continue with the award, presented annually for over a decade now.”

Wairoa Māori Film Festival will continue with other activities across the motu to celebrate Māori film. This year WMFF presented Māori films for Matariki at Te Papa, Wellington City Gallery, Auckland Town Hall and Corban Estate Arts Centre (Auckland). WMFF also co-curated Ngā Whanaunga Wairoa Pasifika shorts for the NZIFF film festival, which screened nationwide in over 14 centres.

“We are disappointed we won't be bringing the magic of the film festival to Wairoa in October but look forward to bringing the festival back post-Cyclone Gabrielle next year,” says Leo Koziol.

The 2024 date will mark the 50th anniversary since the Wairoa Māori Writers & Artists gathering at Takitimu Marae in 1974, and 75 years since the opening of Kahungunu Marae in Nuhaka (the Festival’s host marae).

For media enquiries please contact Leo Koziol, Festival Director, Wairoa Māori Film Festival, on maorimovies@gmail.com or mob: 021 434 123.