Briar Grace Smith ONZM

Briar Grace Smith ONZM

Briar is an inaugural recipient of the Arts Foundation Laureate Award. She was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2018 for her contribution to theatre, television and screen and in 2022  was made a member of the Directors branch of the Academy.


Briar is a filmmaker of Ngāpuhi descent and one of New Zealand’s most celebrated writers of award-winning plays, screenplays, short fiction and television scripts. Her plays include Ngā Pou Wāhine, When Sun and Moon Collide and Purapurawhetū.  Briar’s first feature film The Strength of Water was selected for the Sundance Writers and Directors Labs, premiering at Rotterdam and Berlin Film Festivals in 2009. She also wrote the comedy horror Fresh Meat which screened at the midnight section of the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013.  

As writer/director of Charm, Briar was one of eight Māori women filmmakers who created the acclaimed feature film omnibus Waru, which screened in Official Selection at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival before going on to screen at festivals such as ImagineNATIVE, Hawaii International Film Festival and Palm Springs International Film Festival. She was the director of Krystal, made in collaboration with Toi Whakaari/NZ Drama School and selected as one of the six best NZ shorts at the 2019 NZIFF. She was a storyliner and writer on Grace Beside Me, which was nominated for Best Children’s Television Series at the 2018 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards. She was a writer on another Australian series, Swift Street which will have its World Premiere in competition at the Cannes International Television Series Festival. 

Her television credits for New Zealand include Fishskin Suit, Kaitangata Twitch, Being Eve, Billy and This is Piki, 2017.   Briar is the screen writer, Co Director and actor in Cousins – an adaptation of the novel by Patricia Grace, released in New Zealand (March 2021) and distributed by ARRAY in the US. She was a writer and Director of Rūrangi Series 2: Rising Lights. Briar has an MA in writing for the page and has been the Writer in residence at the International Institute of Modern Letters, Wellington and took part in the International Writers Residency in Iowa in 2022.

Briar has worked as an actor for the stage, and more recently for screen played the role of Makareta in the feature film Cousins, Aunty Lizzie in Rurangi Series 2 and Miriama in the short film Tui by Awa Puna.


Year Production Role Company / Director
2024 Swift Street - TV Series Writer Fifth Season US Productions
2024 The Boy, the Queen & Everything in Between - Webseries Script Writer TVNZ+ Ondemand
2024 Rurangi - TV Series Season 1 & 2 Writer Hulu & Yellow Affair Productions
2022 Mystic - TV Series Writer BBC UK & Libertine Pictures
2022 The Untold Talers of Tuteremoana - Telefeature Film Script Consultant Department of Post Productions
2021 Cousins - Feature Film Director, Writer & Actor Miss Conception Films, dir: Ainsley Gardiner & Briar Grace Smith
2019 Krystal - Short Film Director Electric Shoelace Productions
2018 Grace Beside Me - TV Series Writer Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
2017 Waru - Feature Film Director & Writer Brown Sugar Apple Grunt Productions
2017 Human Traces - Feature Film Advisor Overactive Imagination Productions
2016 This is Piki - TV Series Writer Maori TV, Brown Sugar Apple Grunt
2012 Freshmeat - Feature Film Writer (Screenplay) The Gibson Group
2012 A Taste of Fresh Meat - Documentary Script Writer The Gibson Group
2011 Nine of Hearts - Short Film Director & Writer Producer: Alexandra Keeble
2011 Billy - Telefeature Film Writer Comedia Pictures
2009-2011 Paradise Cafe - TV Series Writer British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
2010 Kaitangata Twitch Writer Production Shed TV, Lenz Entertainment Canada
2009 The Strength of Water - Feature Film Writer & Actor Hopscotch Entertainment
2001 Haruru Mai - Telemovie Writer
2001 Tiare (From the Aroha Māori Drama Series) Writer Aroha Films