Announcing the WIFT NZ Mana Wahine Award recipient 2017

Women in Film & Television (WIFT) NZ and the Wairoa Māori Film Festival Inc. are delighted to announce the 2017 WIFT NZ Mana Wahine Award recipient is one of New Zealand's most committed and passionate advocates for our Māori and wider New Zealand screen industry - Christina Asher.

The award will be presented at the Wairoa Māori Film Awards at the iconic Gaiety Theatre, Wairoa, on Saturday June 3.

Christina Asher (Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngā Rauru, Te Atihaunui-a-Paparangi, Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāti Rangiwewehi) is a previous Board member of WIFT, current Chair of Ngā Aho Whakaari, and was part of the Te Manu Aute collective of Māori film-makers that preceded Ngā Aho Whakaari in the 1980s. Alongside her selfless contribution to the development of the screen industry for women and Māori over the last 30 years, through these organisations and her mentoring of individuals Christina has been involved in many aspects of film and television production for more than 40 years.

Starting on television as a dancer, Christina has acted in, choreographed, produced and directed short films and documentaries, and worked as an international casting director (most recently on worldwide box office hit Moana). She is a staunch supporter of emerging Māori screen talent. Christina directed her first documentary in 1993 as part of the first Indigenous International co-production television series From Spirit to Spirit; her most recent - What Are We Going To Do About Mum? - in 2016 for the Pakipumeka documentary series on Māori Television.

Christina has been, and will continue to be a bold, bright and beautiful advocate and supporter of Māori and women in film and television.

The WIFT Mana Wāhine Award 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. The Award was first initiated in 2011 by Wairoa Māori Film Festival director Leo Koziol and his mother Huia Koziol.

Tickets for the Awards Gala and Film Festival can be booked through Eventfinder - Maori Film Awards only $40, Full Festival Pass including Awards $140.

The Wairoa Māori Film Festival this year has 26 screenings with 70 shorts, and seven feature dramas/documentaries. Screenings are held in Kahungunu Marae, Nuhaka, famed for featuring in scenes from John O'Shea's Broken Barrier in 1955. For the third year, the festival will also be at the reopened Gaiety Theatre in Wairoa. Keynote speaker at the Awards Night will be infamous activist and esteemed artist Tame Iti. Premiering at the festival will be a collection of "two spirit" collaborative short films shot in Saskatchewan last year. Guests in attendance will include international film makers from Tahiti, Hawaii and Canada. A selection of the Māori and Pasifika short films screening at the festival will go on to comprise the New Zealand International Film Festival Ngā Whanaunga programme, which will premiere in Auckland later this year. Closing night is "Bush Cinema" underground shorts at Morere hot springs, with the pools open late into the night. The Wairoa Māori Film Festival is sponsored by the New Zealand Film Commission, Ngā Aho Whakaari, Radio Waatea, Te Matarae O Te Wairoa Trust and Wairoa District Council. The entire programme will available for viewing next week at:

For media enquiries please contact Leo Koziol, Festival Director, Wairoa Māori Film Festival, on or mob: 027 2808729.