Briar Grace-Smith receives Mana Wāhine Award at Wairoa Māori Film Festival

By Te Ao - Māori News

Briar Grace-Smith giving direction to Te Raukura Gray on the set of the movie Cousins.

Award-winning filmmaker Briar Grace-Smith was awarded the 2021 Women in Film & Television (WIFT) Mana Wāhine Award at the weekend.

The Award was presented at the Wairoa Māori Gala Film Awards at the Gaiety Theatre in Wairoa on Sunday, June 6. 

Briar Grace-Smith, of Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Wai, was co-director (alongside Ainsley Gardiner), writer and actor in the adaptation of Patricia Grace’s novel Cousins, which gained over $1 million in its first three weeks of screening in March this year.

In 1995, Grace-Smith won the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award for her play Ngā Pou Wahine.

She went on to win the Best New Zealand Play at the  Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards in 1997 for Purapurawhetu. The NZ Listener labelled the play “a new classic of New Zealand theatre”, and it was later filmed as a TV series in 2012. 

In 2010, Grace-Smith won Best Feature Film Script at the New Zealand Writers Guild Awards forThe Strength of Water.

She co-wrote Billy with Dave Armstrong, a tele-feature about the life of comedian Billy T James, which screened in 2011.

In 2017 she was one of eight wāhine Māori to write and direct a piece for the feature film Waru.

And in 2018 Grace-Smith was honoured as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to theatre, film and television.


A post shared by Cousins (

As she states in her NZ On Screen biography, Grace-Smith says, “I’m probably telling the same story again and again, and it’s about the underdogs. They’re the characters that interest me”. 

The WIFT Mana Wāhine Award was first introduced in 2011 and 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.