Issue date: 
Thursday, 4 July 2024

NZFC has today announced the appointment of Ainsley Gardiner (MNZM) to the role of Head of Funding. Ainsley is of Ngāti Awa, Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Pikiao and Te Whakatōhea tribal descent.

Ainsley is a seasoned producer and director of more than two dozen short and feature films, documentaries and television drama. Annie Murray, NZFC CEO says, “I am delighted to welcome Ainsley to this important role for NZFC. She has extensive experience as a producer of some of New Zealand’s most loved films and joins us at a crucial time, as we reshape our organisation to deliver well on our strategic priorities, achieve results within our constrained funding environment and – most importantly of all – ensure we can properly engage with, support and deliver for the film industry into the future. Ainsley will no doubt have a powerful impact leading our team on these initiatives and more.”

Gardiner began her career in the film industry learning from veteran Māori industry leader Larry Parr, and was also fortunate enough to have been mentored and supported by the likes of Merata Mita and Cliff Curtis.

She was one of nine wåhine Måori filmmakers to write and direct the acclaimed feature film Waru, selected for the Toronto Film Festival in 2017. Her second feature, Cousins, co-directed with the film’s screenplay writer, Briar Grace-Smith, was the top grossing NZ feature in 2020. Most recently, Ainsley has co-directed two seasons of Not Even, a six-part TV comedy for Neon and Sky Open in 2022/2023.

Notably Ainsley produced the short films Two Cars, One Night and Tama Tu written and directed by Oscar-nominee, Taika Waititi. She went on to collaborate with Waititi on his feature films, Eagle vs Shark in 2005 and his first No.1 Box Office hit, Boy, in 2009. She was one of the producers of 2018’s comedy hit, The Breaker Upperers which premiered at SXSW and sold to Netflix. Ainsley has hosted a short film programme on Māori Television, previously sat on the Māori development arm of the NZFC, Te Paepae Ataata, and as an Advisory Board member of Script-To-Screen’s Story Camp. She has often worked as an external script assessor and mentor of a number of emerging Māori and women writers, directors and producers. In 2018 she was awarded the Mana Wåhine award at the Wairoa Film Festival and also made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to film.

Ainsley says, “Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commission has a legacy of supporting New Zealand film and filmmaking talent. I have been privileged and grateful to be supported many times by the NZFC and I am ready to now serve this kaupapa. It is clear that NZFC is in a period of rapid change and this, and Annie’s leadership, is what attracted me to the role. I look forward to having the opportunity to contribute to a new vision that will empower the next generation of New Zealand’s filmmakers. I can’t wait to get started.”

Ainsley will take up her new role on 8 July with an industry welcome to follow in August.

Last updated: 
Thursday, 4 July 2024