Ainsley Gardiner

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Gardiner in 2018

Ainsley Amohaere Gardiner MNZM is a film producer from New Zealand. She is of Te-Whānau a Apanui, Ngāti Pikiao and Ngāti Awa descent.[1]

Early life[edit]

Gardiner was born in Wellington and grew up in the predominantly white suburb of Wadestown. Her mother was an MP, Pauline Gardiner, and her father a civil servant and politician, Wira Gardiner. When she was about 12 years old the family moved to Whakatane.[2]


In 1995, Gardiner completed the Avalon Film and TV production course, and went on to work with producer Larry Parr at Kahukura Productions. She began producing short films, and also co-produced a 26-part series Lovebites.[1]

In 2003, she produced her first feature film, Kombi Nation, and co-produced Two Cars, One Night with Catherine Fitzgerald. The film, directed by Taika Waititi, became the first New Zealand short to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Film.[1]

In 2004, Gardiner and actor/producer Cliff Curtis formed a film production company focused on indigenous stories, called Whenua Films. The company received start-up funding from the New Zealand Film Commission. Gardiner worked with Curtis and Waititi to produce Tama Tū, Eagle vs Shark and the highly successful Boy, which set a new record for the highest grossing New Zealand film.[1]

In 2007, Gardiner began co-presenting Iti Pounamu, a Maori Television series showcasing New Zealand short films.[3] In 2009 Gardiner wrote and directed Mokopuna, a short film about a part-Māori girl who struggles to embrace her roots; the film won the best short film award at the Canadian indigenous film festival Dreamspeakers.[1]

In 2017, Gardiner joined a team of women directors and writers to create the feature film Waru, which focuses on child abuse in New Zealand.[1]

Honours and awards[edit]

In 2010, Gardiner and Curtis shared the SPADA New Zealand Screen Industry Awards title of Independent Producer of the Year.[1]

In the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours, Gardiner was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to film and television.[4]


Film Year Role Notes
The Hole 1998 Producer
Ouch 1999 Producer
Kombi Nation 2003 Producer Nominated for Best Film, 2003 New Zealand Film Awards
Ebony Society 2003 Co-producer (with Chelsea Winstanley) Winner, Best Short Film, 2011 Aotearoa Film and Television Awards
Two Cars, One Night 2004 Co-producer (with Catherine Fitzgerald) Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film, 2005

Best Short Film – Panorama Section, 2004 Berlin Film Festival

Winner, Best Drama, 2004 Aspen Film Festival

Prize of the Cinema Jury, 2004 Oberhausen Film Festival

Jury Prize, 2004 Newport Film Festival

Best Short Film, 2004 Hamburg Short Film Festival

Best Short Film, 2004 Seattle Film Festival

Best Live Action Short Film, 2004 Melbourne International Film Festival

Audience Award, 2004 National Geographic's All Roads Festival

Grand Jury Prize for Best International Short Film, 2004 AFI Los Angeles Film Festival

Nominated for Best Short Film, 2003 New Zealand Film Awards

Tama Tū 2004 Producer Coopers Award for Best Film, 2006 Flickerfest (Australia)

Special Jury Prize, Honourable Mention - Panorama Section, 2005 Berlin Film Festival (Germany)

Honourable Mention in Short Film Making, 2005 Sundance Film Festival (United States)

Best Fiction Short Film, 2005 Melbourne International Film Festival (Australia)

First Prize - Short Film Competition, 2005 Stockholm International Film Festival (Sweden)

Honourable Jury Mention, 2005 St Tropez Film Festival (France)

Best Live Action Short, 2005 Palm Springs International Short Film Festival (United States)

Linda Mabalot New Director's/New Visions Award, 2005 VC LA Asian Pacific Film Festival (United States)

Special Jury Prize, 2005 Aspen Shortsfest (United States)

Grand Jury Prize for Best Short, 2005 Indianapolis International Film Festival (United States)

Hawaikii 2006 Executive producer
The Speaker 2006 Executive producer
Eagle vs Shark 2007 Co-producer (with Cliff Curtis) Nominated for Best Picture - Budget over $1 Million, 2008 Qantas Film and Television Awards
Taua - War Party 2007 Executive producer
Shadow over the Sun 2007 Executive producer
Mokopuna 2008 Writer, director and executive producer Winner, Best Short Film, Dreamspeakers (Canada)
Boy 2010 Co-producer (with Emanuel Michael and Cliff Curtis) Winner, Best Feature Film, 2010 Qantas Film and Television Awards

Nominated for Best Children's Feature Film, 2010 Asia Pacific Screen Awards

The Pā Boys 2014 Producer
Fantail 2014 Executive producer
Waru 2017 Writer and director (with Briar Grace-Smith, Katie Wolfe,

Chelsea Winstanley, Renae Maihi, Paula W. Jones,

Casey Kaa, Awanui Simich-Pene and Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Ainsley Gardiner | NZ On Screen". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 1 April 2018.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ "Twelve Questions: Ainsley Gardiner". NZ Herald. 5 February 2014. ISSN 1170-0777. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  3. ^ "TBI Q&A: Ainsley Gardiner". The Big Idea. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 2018". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 4 June 2018. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  5. ^ "Ainsley Gardiner | New Zealand Film Commission". Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Ainsley Gardiner | NZ On Screen". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 1 April 2018.CS1 maint: others (link)