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Rachel House

Rachel House’s Biography

Last Updated:
27/08/2021, 9:03 am
Actor/Stage and Screen Director
Arts Foundation Laureate 2012
Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Mutunga
Rachel House is an accomplished stage performer and director with an increasing profile in the world of film.

Rachel was born in Auckland but raised in Kamo, Whangarei by her Glaswegian immigrant parents John and Sheila House. After many failed attempts at sport she was lovingly but firmly pushed into Ballet, Piano, Classical singing, speech and drama lessons - drama being the only one that really stuck.

She graduated from Toi Whakaari (New Zealand Drama School) in 1992 and went straight on to work with Pacific Underground Theatre and then Auckland theatre Company on Roger Halls By Degrees.

Since then she has performed in 28 plays including Manawa Taua/Savage Hearts, Waiora, Wit, Beauty and the Beast and The Worlds Wife - many of these productions touring nationally and internationally.

She has won the Chapman Tripp (1995) Most Promising Female Newcomer of the Year Award for Briar Grace-Smiths' one woman show Nga Pou Wahine, (2002) Most Outstanding Performance for Witi Ihimaera's Woman Far Walking and (2003) Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Ibsen's Enemy of the People.

Rachel has also performed in the international award winning feature films Whale Rider, and Taika Waititi's Eagle versus Shark. In the highly acclaimed feature Boy she played the role of Auntie Gracie and behind the scenes was the acting coach for all of the child actors. She has also appeared in numerous television productions including the BBC/South Pacific Pictures co-production of Maddigans Quest. She also plays the role of Maraea alongside Laureate Whirimako Black in the upcoming feature film Medicine Woman written by Laureate Witi Ihimaera and adapted and directed by acclaimed Mexican film-maker Dana Rotberg.

In 2001 Rachel directed Mitch Tawhi Thomas' play Have Car Will Travel which went on to win Director of the Year at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards and Best Director in the New Zealand Listener awards.

Since then she has gone on to direct several productions including Neil LaButes The Mercy Seat, Tusiata Avia's Wild Dogs under my Skirt, Kirk Torrences Flintlock Musket, Makerita Urales Frangipani Perfume which toured Canada, the festival of the Dreaming in Brisbane and the Cambridge festival in the UK, Gavin Bishops Hinepau which she also helped to adapt for stage and toured in Aotearoa and Australia.

In 2012 Rachel was the artistic director with co-director Jamus Webster of the highly successful Te Reo Maori version of Shakespeare's historical masterpiece, Troilus and Cressida at the Globe Theatre, England.

In 2008 Rachel attended the Prague film school and was awarded Best director for her first short film Bravo and the best film audience award for her second short New Skirt.

In 2010 Rachel had the priviledge of directing Kylie Meehan's short film The Winter Boy produced by Hineani Melbourne for the NZFC's Premiere Shorts. This has gone on to be selected for the NZ film festival, International de Films de Femmes Creteil, Saint Tropez Festival- France, Kyoto Children's Film Festival, Japan, All Roads, Rhode Island , Rehoboth Beach and Hawaii International Film Festivals - USA, and the Dreamspeakers Festival in Canada.

Rachel has years of experience in radio and as a voice artist for television including projects for The Natural History Unit. She was a regular panelist for Ask your Aunties on Maori television, a television director for cinco cines Korero mai and a published piece in Huia's Short Stories 3. She is a part time tutor at the Pacific Institue of Performing Arts .

Rachel received an Arts Foundation Laureate Award in 2012. The Laureate Award is an investment in excellence across a range of art forms for an artist with prominence and outstanding potential for future growth. Their work is rich but their richest work still lies ahead of them. The Award recognises a moment in the artists' career that will allow them to have their next great success.

Since then Rachel's career has continued to grow, featuring in 2013 in the role of Maraea in White Lies directed by Dana Rotberg. In 2014 she appeared in The Dark Horse, directed by James Napier Robertson and Everything We Loved by Max Currie.

2016 proved to be an incredibly successful year, playing the role of Paula in Taika Waititi's The Hunt For The Wilderpeople which was named Empire UK's Film of the Year, the role of Rewia in The Rehearsal, directed by Alison Maclean, and the voice role of Gramma Tala in the animated film Moana, which was co-written by Taika Waititi, directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, and nominated for the 2017 Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Bafta Awards and Empire Awards to name but a few. In 2017 under the role of Performance Director, Rachel is working again on Moana which is being translated into Te Reo Māori.

Rachel House and fellow Laureate, Briar Grace-Smith (2000) are 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.