Susan Leonard (Te Arawa, Rangitāne) is a renowned documentary film-maker filling producer and director roles, who brings engaging and important local stories from Aotearoa to the world stage. Her productions have been commissioned for all networks, including Whaakata Māori television, funded by Te Mangai Paho and her most recent works feature extensive te reo contributing to the revitalisation of Māori language and culture in everyday modern life. Particularly cherishing stories that bring Māori and Pakeha together, Leonard’s commitment and expertise in making archival documentary reveals her deep awareness of her responsibility to honour the stories of those who have passed.
Leonard made the first several series of kiwi classic The Casketeers (2018) which won Best Reality Series, 2018 & 2019 and Best Māori Program 2019 at the New Zealand Television Awards, then enjoyed international success with the first two seasons being sold to Netflix. She directed and produced My Māori Midwife (2019) commissioned for TVNZ OnDemand, which tells the intimate stories of Māori midwives working tirelessly to empower women and to encourage māmā to incorporate traditional Māori birthing practises into their journeys. Most recently she produced and directed Crown Lynn: A Māori Story, telling an iconic New Zealand story of Crown Lynn pottery in the post-war era – of the generations of cultures, Yugoslavian, Māori and Polynesian, working in the factory, of Maori migration and Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to the factory in 1963. The film celebrates the Māori backstory of an institution, offering valuable insight into Māori urban migration, race relations, manaakitanga and whānau.