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Briar Grace-Smith

Briar Grace-Smith’s Biography

Last Updated:
5/05/2021, 12:11 pm
Arts Foundation Laureate 2000
Ngāpuhi & Ngāti Wai
Briar Grace-Smith, ONZM, is an award-winning writer of plays, scripts and short stories. Her first major play 'Nga Pou Wahine' earned her the 1995 Bruce Mason Playwriting Award.

Briar Grace-Smith is an award-winning writer of plays, scripts and short stories. Her first major play Nga Pou Wahine earned her the 1995 Bruce Mason Playwriting Award. Purapurawhetu won Best New Zealand Play at the 1997 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards and Briar has toured the play to Canada and Greece.

In 2002 Briar premiered her new play When Sun and Moon Collide in Wellington; judged the Huia Māori writers' competition for best screenplay; saw her first television play In a Fish Skin Suit premiered TV3 and was a finalist for the Prize in Modern Letters. Potiki's Memory of Stone premiered at the Court Theatre in 2003 and Briar was the writer in residence at Victoria University that same year.

Her short story Te Manawa appeared in The Six Pack, a sampler of New Zealand writing from New Zealand's inaugural Book Month publication (2006). In the same year Briar's script The Strength of Water was selected for the Sundance screen-writers laboratory in Utah. The Screenwriters Laboratory provided an opportunity for development of her script with the guidance of screenwriters who embraced Briar's vision and helped her find the most compelling way to tell her story. The Film, The Strength of Water, premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival in January 2009 and later in Berlin. The film was shot on location in and around the Hokianga region and was released by Hopscotch Films in New Zealand. Fresh Meat premiered in 2012.

Briar's short stories have been broadcast on National Radio and appeared in anthologies including Penguin New Writers (1998), Tangata, Tangata (1999), Toi Wahine (1995), Huia Short Stories (1995) and Lost in Translation (2010).

Briar was a recipient of the first of two Rebecca Mason Scholarships in 2010. She also won Best Feature Film Script Award for The Strength of Water' announced at the inaugural Scriptwriter Awards ceremony held in Auckland in November that year.

Briar and fellow Laureate, Rachel House were named the 2017 recipients of the Ramai Hayward Directors' Scholarship for wahine Māori awarded by the NZ Film Commission. The scholarship is given to develop the recipients film scripts and directing skills, with the goal of directing their first feature films. Also in 2017, Briar won the Te Tohu Toi Kē a Te Waka Toi Award in recognition of her significant, positive impact on the development and practice of Māori arts.

Briar lives with her husband and children on the Kapiti Coast, north of Wellington. She is Development Executive at the New Zealand Film Commission