Rena Owen

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Rena Owen
Rena Owen.jpg
Born (1962-07-22) July 22, 1962 (age 52)
Bay of Islands, Northland, New Zealand
Occupation Actress, Writer, Director, Producer

Rena Owen (born July 22, 1962) is an international award winning actress in Theater, Television & Film. She is also a Published Playwright and a qualified General & Obstetric Nurse (SRN). Owen is best known for her leading role as Beth Heke in Lee Tamahori's Once Were Warriors and is one of only five actors in the world to have worked with both George Lucas (Star Wars Ep. 11 & 111) & Stephen Spielberg (A.I). Owen set up her company, Polywood Productions Inc. in 2002 and has two feature films in development.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in New Zealand, Owen is of Maori, Walsh and European descent. One of nine children, she grew up in Moerewa, a small rural town in the North Island's Bay of Islands.[2] She regularly performed in local Maori Culture groups and performed in dramas and musicals while in high school. However, given the arts were not deemed a career, Owen pursued a medical career and trained as a SRN at Auckland Hospital for three and a half years. Once she qualified she moved to London, England.[3]


In Once Were Warriors, Owen played the role of abused Māori housewife Beth Heke alongside Temuera Morrison, who played her husband. Once Were Warriors is predominantly narrated from Beth's perspective,[4] and her performance was praised as "classic".[4] Owen reprised the role in the film's sequel, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? (1999).

Star Wars[edit]

Owen acted as Taun We in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) (in which Morrison played Jango Fett) and appeared in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005) as Nee Alavar. She also worked with the Star Wars Expanded Universe when she reprised her role as Taun We in the video game Star Wars: Republic Commando and also an uncredited role as Jedi Master Tionne Solusar in the video game Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron

Other roles include Rapa Nui (1994), Nemesis Game (2003), and Mee-Shee: The Water Giant (2005).


Her role in Once Were Warriors earned Owen rave reviews and multiple international awards including Best Actress at the Montreal World Film Festival, Oporto Film Festival, San Diego International Film Festival, and the Cannes Film Festival Spirit Award.[4] In New Zealand, she was awarded the Benny Award for Excellence in Film, and the Toast Master's Communicator of the Year award.

Further acting accolades include a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role in the 1997 New Zealand TV Series, "Coverstory". A nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the AFI Awards for her role as Rix in the 1998 film Dance Me to My Song, directed by Rolf de Heer.[5] Her recurring role as Hine Ryan in the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street, saw her win the Aotearoa Film and Television Award for "Best Supporting Actress" in 2012. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her recurring role as Mere Hahunga in the award winning Australian TV series, East West 101, at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts, and nominated for Best Actress at the Montecarlo International Television Festival.

List of Awards:

AACTA Nomination (2012): Best Guest or Supporting Actress in a Television Drama- "East West 101"

New Zealand Film and TV Awards Winner (2011): Best Supporting Actress- "Shortland Street"

Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards Nomination (1999): Best Supporting Actress- "Dance Me to My Song"

AFI Nomination (1998): Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role- "Dance Me to My Song"

NZ Film & TV Awards Nomination (1997): Best Supporting Actress- "Coverstory"

Fantasporto International Fantasy Film Festival Winner (1995): Best Actress- "Once Were Warriors"

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Nomination (1994): Best Actress & Most Promising Actress- "Once Were Warriors"

Montreal World Film Festival Winner (1994): Best Actress- "Once Were Warriors"

San Diego International Film Festival (1994): Best Actress- "Once Were Warriors"

New Zealand Maori Queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu Literary Award, 1992


Year Title Role
1994 Hinekaro Goes on a Picnic and Blows Up Another Obelisk Hinekaro
1994 Once Were Warriors Beth Heke
Rapa Nui Hitirenga
1995 The Call Up Emily Broughton
1995 Savage Play Takiora
1998 Dance Me to My Song Rix
When Love Comes Along Katie
1999 9 Across
1999 I'll Make You Happy Mickie
What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? Beth Heke
2000 Her Iliad Lena
All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story Soona Fualaau
2001 A.I. Artificial Intelligence Ticket Taker
Soul Assassin Karina
2002 A Thousand Guns The Gypsy
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones Taun We
sIDney Clarissa
2003 Red Zone Mac's Mom
2003 Nemesis Game Emily Gray
2004 Pear ta ma 'on maf" Warrior Woman
2005 The Horrible Flowers Linda
The Crow: Wicked Prayer Mary
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith Nee Alavar
Mee-Shee: The Water Giant Crazy Norma
Freezerburn Lee
2006 Leela Mother
Pledge of Allegiance Maria Macintyre
The Iron Man Dolores
2007 Ocean of Pearls Anna Berisha
2008 Rain of the Children Puhi Tatu
2008 Finding Red Cloud Barfly
2008 A Beautiful Life Sam
2009 Karma Kula Mystic Warrior Queen Puta
Amusement Psychiatrist
2009 Veronika Decides to Die Nurse Josephine
2009 Spout Oma
2011 Witness Insecurity Judge
2011 Alyce Kills Danielle
2011 Snitch Judge Irwin
2014 The Well Claire
2014 The Dead Lands Grandmother



  • Lead Role: Pohutukawa Tree, Auckland Theatre Company, New Zealand (2009)[6]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Johnson, Brian D. "Ogopogo gets drawn Down Under", Maclean's, July 31, 2006, vol. 119, issue 29, page 56.
  3. ^ NZ On Screen biography through Creative Commons
  4. ^ a b c [1] Media and ethnic minorities by Valerie Alia and Simone Bull, p. 56. Retrieved 5 November 2009
  5. ^ [2] Rolf de Heer at IMDb
  6. ^

External links[edit]