Creativity, research, strategy.

I am a documentary filmmaker, health educator and researcher.
My most recent film featured the art and life of gay artist and environmentalist, Geoff Dixon | Portrait of Us – co-directed and co-produced with Glenis Giles through gogomedia AOTEAROA. It premiered at the NZ International Film Festival in 2022. View Trailer.

I grew up in Orakei, Tāmaki Makau Rau (Auckland) overlooking Rangitoto and was part of a big Irish Catholic blended family and community which instilled in me a strong sense of social justice. I initially trained as a nurse and went on to work in youth and community health education and health promotion including HIV/AIDs sexual health and politics.

Over the last ten years I worked as an Education Team Lead at Mary Potter Hospice and for three years on a national campaign, tō tatou reo, advance care planning, to encourage conversations and communication about death and dying with Māori, Pacific, Asian and LGBGTQI+ voices recognising diverse needs and rituals of our cultures and communities.

During this time I also worked with the Mental Health & Addiction team at HQSC to gather lived experience of seclusion in mental health facilities. The bravery of people telling their authentic stories is humbling and powerful.

I completed a Masters in Communications degree at Victoria University of Wellington focused on digital content and gender and went on to work across the creative and digital sector for many years, working on creative industry and digital content/games strategies for NZTE , National Library of NZ and NZ On Air.  In 2008 I was the founding Content Director of NZ On Screen and established ScreenTalk. Further film work profiled here.

I live with my partner Cathy in Breaker Bay, Wellington and have a son Samuel who is an artist /designer and lives in Portland Oregon with his wife musician Stephanie and three gorgeous children.

I am currently involved in a research project at the Faculty of Health, Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, working towards improving the coronial process for whānau bereaved by sudden death of a loved one. This is funded for three years through the Health Research Council lead by Dr Clive Aspin.

I have a variety of Board and Trustee experience, currently a Board member of Kawe Mahara Queer Archives Aotearoa, and am committed to representing the needs of our diverse LGBGTQ+ community.

I am also the NZ representative on the International Committee for LGBT+ History Months founded by gay history teacher Ronald C Wilson.

On July 9th in honour of the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Act (July 9th 1986) Kawe Mahara will be co-hosting a symposium to celebrate our first Queer History Month Aotearoa in July this year, in partnership with the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa.

Creative Projects & Films

I work with Glenis Giles to develop documentary film projects – a new arts feature is coming up – watch this space!

In 2015 I was Digital Artist in Residence with The Big Idea collaborating with my son, designer Sam O’Leary , hospice workers, and creative practitioners on The Solace Initiative, where people showed or told what brings them solace in times of loss or grief. 

I worked with American New Zealand artist Daisey Bingham and sculptor Bridget Nawalowalo to show the story of their redesign of the entranceway to the Wellington Homeless women’s shelter, Te Mahana, the warmth of the home. 

My short film Music for Life explores the power of music in the lives of people living with dementia, with music therapist Rani Heath in association with Dementia NZ (Wellington branch)

If you’d like to talk about strategy, research, creative or health related projects or stories, please contact me for a chat.


Mobile: 0273788466