In a sold out evening at the ASB Waterfront Theatre in Tāmaki Makaurau, the WIFT NZ Awards were held on Thursday, 3rd of December, 2020. After being rescheduled twice due to covid restrictions, it was the third time lucky for the event. Wāhine Māori were nominated in multiple categories and Stacey Morrison (Te Arawa, Ngāi Tahu) and Annabelle Lee-Mather (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu) were both announced as winners.

The WIFT NZ Awards recognise, celebrate and encourage the achievements of women in film, television and digital media and provide an annual networking opportunity for women working in the industry.

Stacey Morrison won the Te Māngai Pāho Te Reo Māori Champion Award for her work promoting te reo Māori as a broadcaster, performer, teacher, and author. The award was presented by Blake Ihimaera, Head of Content at Te Māngai Pāho, and the other nominees were Mihingārangi Forbes and Nevak Rogers. All four women on the stage, the three nominees and Blake, are formidable and successful wāhine in their own right and all are tireless champions of te reo Maori.

Mihingārangi Forbes, Stacey Morrison and Nevak Rogers at the WIFT NZ Awards 2020

Special mention was made of Stacey as an adult language learner taking the journey to learn te reo Māori while in the public eye. From her first television role on What Now, while still in high school to Mai Time, It’s In The Bag and Whānau Living. Stacey has written bestselling books on learning the language, some with her husband, Te Karere presenter Scotty Morrison. Her radio work includes announcing on Mai FM 88.6 and Flava. Currently she is with The Hits Drive. She is an accomplished and sought after MC and can be seen on screens and in media in her role as ambassador for multiple charities that are near to her heart. In all her work, she integrates te reo Māori into her interviews and appearances. She works hard to assist others on their Maori language journeys and promotes te reo Maori in all her roles. 

Stacey said, “There is no competition when it comes to us as wāhine Māori. I can do what I can do because Nevak does what she does, because Mihingārangi tells us all what to do. But there is no competition except for the one where te reo Māori wins.” 

She referred to the recent apology from Stuff and their admission of racist reporting that contributes to the stigma, marginalisation and stereotypes against Māori. “E mihi ana ki tōku tuakana a Carmen Parahi (Stuff’s Pou Tiaki Editor). Carmen is in a place that all of us know. Do I stay? Do I fight? Or do I have to leave? Carmen stayed, she fought. But Carmen needed to be in an environment where there were ‘haumi’ – allies.” Stacey went on to inform the mostly non-Māori crowd what it takes to be a good ally. She said, an ally is selfless, they don’t centre themselves, they’re quiet when they need to be quiet and loud when they need to be loud on someone else’s behalf. She implored, “Te Iwi Māori, Te Reo Māori, needs you all to be allies.”

“For everyone that loves te reo Māori,” Stacey said, “tiakina, tukuna kia rere. And please look after our Māori who are trying to reclaim their ancestral language, the language that was taken from them and the language that they must reclaim.” 

Annabelle Lee-Mather accepts the Images and Sound Award for Success in Television and Digital at the WIFT NZ Awards 2020

Annabelle Lee-Mather won the Images and Sound Award for Success in Television and Digital for her powerful work crafting and sharing award-winning indigenous stories and perspectives. Special mention was made of the global success of The Casketeers due to its Netflix deal and popularity all over the world. She said in her acceptance speech, “I just want to accept this award for all the wāhine that kick doors open and hold doors open for all of us. So many of my mentors and tuakana are here tonight.” 

The Awards night was an opportunity for women in our industry to shine and we congratulate all the nominees and winners for being inspirational examples for all wāhine in this industry.

Below is the full list of 2020 winners:

SAE Award for Outstanding Newcomer

presented by Dr Suzette Major, Director SAE Institute, and Dr Julia Reynolds, Head of Screen Production, SAE Institute

> to Kayleighsha Wharton for her uncompromising professionalism as a production and location manager, and the incredible humanity and care she brings to her job.

South Pacific Pictures Award for Achievement in Film

presented by Kelly Martin, CEO, South Pacific Pictures

> to Pietra Brettkelly – for creating unique, intimate, beautiful cinematic works that open a window into another world.

Imagezone Entrepreneurship Award

presented by Fiona Thomas, Imagezone General Manager, and Dean Thomas, Company Director

> to Sharon Menzies – for her savvy and successful work in film financing, and her tireless contribution to the screen industry.

Images & Sound Award for Success in Television and Digital

presented by Narelle Ahrens, Foley Artist at Images and Sound

> to Annabelle Lee-Mather for her powerful work crafting and sharing award-winning indigenous stories and perspectives.

Professional Lighting Services Award for Unsung Heroine of the New Zealand Screen Industry

presented by Ruthe Kenderdine, General Manager, Professional Lighting Services

> to Louise Baker – for her humility, passion, and meticulous hard work in many different industry roles over the past 37 years.

Fulcrum Media Finance Woman to Watch Award

presented by Patricia Watson, representing Sharon Menzies, Managing Director, Fulcrum Media Finance

> to Hweiling Ow – for hitting the big league in the horror genre and her continued success developing projects as a writer, director, and producer.

Te Māngai Pāho Te Reo Māori Champion Award

presented by Blake Ihimaera, Head of Content, Te Māngai Pāho

> to Stacey Morrison – for her outstanding work promoting te reo Māori as a broadcaster, performer, teacher, and author.

The Queenstown Camera Company Craft Award

presented by Brett Mills, Managing Director, The Queenstown Camera Company

> to Bindy Crayford – for her pioneering spirit and incredible capability and ingenuity as a gaffer, and for being an inspiring mentor to other technicians.

The Weta Group Creative Technology Award

presented by Poppy O’Dowd, client liaison, Wingnut Films

> to Amy Barber – for her inspiring standard of work and, through her company Bespoke Post, for helping change how international sound supervisors see New Zealand.

Great Southern Film & Television Award for Outstanding Contribution to the New Zealand Screen Industry

presented by Phil Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Great Southern Film & Television

> to Kelly Martin – from commissioning and programming to running the country’s biggest production company while being an active member of industry boards, Kelly Martin has been a longstanding champion of New Zealand-made content and a force for change on gender representation in the screen industry.

Images provided by WIFT NZ. Photo credit: Norrie Montgomery.

Only in Aotearoa. Music by DJ Nicola Tims at the WIFT NZ Awards 2020. Image by Leo Koziol.