Briar Grace-Smith

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Briar Grace-Smith is an award-winning writer of scripts, screenplays and short stories from New Zealand. She has worked as an actor and writer with the Maori theatre cooperative Te Ohu Whakaari and Maori theatre company He Ara Hou. Early plays Don't Call Me Bro and Flat Out Brown, were first performed at the Taki Rua Theatre in Wellington in 1996.[1] Waitapu, a play written by Grace-Smith, was devised by He Ara Hou and performed by the group on the Native Earth Performing Arts tour in Canada in 1996.


Her first major play Nga Pou Wahine earned her the 1995 Bruce Mason Playwriting Award. Grace-Smith won Best New Zealand Play at the 1997 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for Purapurawhetu, called "a new classic of New Zealand theatre" by New Zealand Listener.[2] The play also toured to Canada and Greece.[3] In 2000, she received the Arts Foundation Laureate Award. In 1993 she was Writer-in-Residence at Massey University, and in 2003, she was Writers' Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington.[4] Her 2014 play Paniora was inspired by the story of Spanish influence in the East Coast, via Manuel José.[5][6]

Screenplays include Fresh Meat (film) (2012), Nine of Hearts and the New Zealand feature film The Strength of Water (2009).[7] Her plays have toured in New Zealand and internationally. The Strength of Water was selected for the 2006 Sundance Screenwriters' Lab in Utah, and premiered at the Berlin and Rotterdam Film Festivals in 2009. She was a finalist at the 2009 Qantas Film and TV Awards for Best Screenplay for a Feature Film for The Strength of Water.[8]

Grace-Smith's work for television includes drama Fishskin Suit, which won best drama at the NZ Television Awards[9] and was nominated for Best Script - One off Drama.[8] and Charlie The Dreaded, one of six Maori language stories produced for the Aroha series. Grace-Smith has also worked as a writer and storyliner on various television drama series. These have included Being Eve, and Kaitangata Twitch, a series adapted from the Margaret Mahy novel. She co-wrote Billy, a tele-feature about the life of comedian Billy T James, with Dave Armstrong (2011).

Grace-Smith is also a writer of short stories. 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). Grace-Smith's short stories have been broadcast on Radio New Zealand National and appeared in anthologies including Penguin New Writers (1998), Tangata, Tangata (1999), Toi Wahine (1995), Huia Short Stories (1995) from Huia Publishers and Lost in Translation (2010).[3]

Personal life[edit]

Grace-Smith is of Nga Puhi and Ngāti Wai descent. She lives on the Kapiti Coast of Wellington with her husband and children.



  • 2012 Fresh Meat (feature film)
  • 2012 When Sun and Moon Collide (television)
  • 2012 Purapurawhetu (television)
  • 2011 Billy (television, with Dave Armstrong)
  • 2011 Nine of Hearts (short film)
  • 2010 Kaitangata Twitch (television)
  • 2010 Lily and Ra (short film)
  • 2008 The Strength of Water (feature film)
  • 2005 Mataku (television)
  • 2002 Fishskin Suit (television)
  • 2001 Being Eve (television)
  • 1998-2000 The Big Chair (television)

List from Playmarket's Twenty New Zealand Playwrights [10]


  • 2010 Best Feature Film Script, New Zealand Writers Guild Awards The Strength of Water[11]
  • 2006 Sundance screenwriters laboratory, Utah The Strength of Water:[12]
  • 2003 Victoria University Writers' Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington [13]
  • 2001 Kapiti Writers' Award [14]
  • 2000 Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award[3]
  • 1998 Writer-in-Residence at Massey University [3]
  • 1997 Outstanding New New Zealand Play of the Year, Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards Purapurawhetu
  • 1995 Best Short Play of the Year, Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards Nga Pou Wahine
  • 1995 Bruce Mason Playwriting Award Nga Pou Wahine [15]


  1. ^ "Grace Smith, Briar". New Zealand Book Council. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  2. ^ "Overview". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Briar Grace-Smith". The Arts Foundation. Retrieved 11 March 2016. 
  4. ^ Hopkins, Renata. "Interview with Briar Grace-Smith". Turbine 03. New Zealand Electronic Text Centre. Retrieved 11 March 2016. 
  5. ^ "Paniora; a tale of Spanish blood flowing in Maori veins", Mar 29, 2014,
  6. ^ "Theatre and dance meet in magical tale of Maori and Spanish culture", Dionne Christian, Mar 22, 2014, NZ Herald
  7. ^ "Briar Grace Smith". IMDB. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "Awards". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  9. ^ "Fish Skin Suit". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  10. ^ Forster, Michelanne; Plumb, Vivienne (2013). Twenty New Zealand Playwrights. Playmarket. p. 85. ISBN 978-0-908607-47-1. 
  11. ^ "SWANZ Winners & Finalists 2010". New Zealand Writers Guild. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  12. ^ "Sundance Institute Announces Twelve Feature Film Projects For January Screenwriters Lab". Filmmakers. Sundance Film Institute. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  13. ^ "Writer in Residence". Victoria University of Wellington. Retrieved 8 August 2015. 
  14. ^ Forster, Michelanne; Plumb, Vivienne (2013). Twenty New Zealand Playwrights. Playmarket. pp. 84–93. ISBN 978-0-908607-47-1. 
  15. ^ Edmond, Murray. "Plays and playwrights - Theatre into the 2000s". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 8 August 2015.