Gaylene Preston

Dame Gaylene Preston

Gaylene Preston (cropped).jpg
Preston in 2018
Born (1947-06-01) 1 June 1947 (age 72)
Greymouth, New Zealand
ResidenceWellington, New Zealand
ChildrenChelsie Preston Crayford

Dame Gaylene Mary Preston DNZM (born 1 June 1947) is a New Zealand filmmaker with a particular interest in documentary films.

Early life and family

Born in Greymouth on 1 June 1947, Preston was educated at Colenso High School (now William Colenso College) in Napier.[1] She went on to study at the Ilam School of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury from 1966 to 1968, and then the St Albans School of Fine Art in Hertfordshire, England, where she completed a Diploma of Art Therapy in 1974.[1]

Preston has one daughter, the actor Chelsie Preston Crayford, who was born in 1987.[1]


Preston's first film was All The Way Up There. As a producer she has contributed to the award-winning feature documentaries Punitive Damage (1999) and Coffee, Tea or Me? (2001) and Lands of our Fathers (executive producer). Her feature film Home By Christmas was a dramatised oral history based on her father's memories of his wartime experiences, contrasted with her mother's perspective.[2]

Her other feature films include Mr Wrong, Ruby and Rata, and the mini series Bread & Roses (with producer Robin Laing). She was writer, director and producer of Perfect Strangers, a black comedy starring Sam Neill and Rachael Blake.[3] In 1982 Gaylene directed a documentary called Making Utu about the making of Geoff Murphy's iconic feature Utu.[4]

Preston chaired the Academy of Film and Television Arts (1997–99) and was a member of the board of the NZ Film Commission (1979–85) as well as chair of the Film Innovation Fund (1981–85).[citation needed] She has been a member of the Board of New Zealand On Air (The NZ Broadcasting Commission),[5] and in 2001 she was the first filmmaker to be made a Laureate by the New Zealand Arts Foundation, recognising her contribution to New Zealand film and television.[6]

In the 2002 New Year Honours, Preston was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to film making,[7] and in 2016, she received the New Zealand Women of Influence Award for Arts and Culture in recognition of her work on New Zealand-focused films and documentaries.[5]

In May 2011 she publicly protested plans for Wellington Airport to erect a Wellywood sign on the hill beside the Miramar Cutting, the highest-profile industry opponent of this initiative.[8]

Preston was awarded the Lia Award at the Stranger with my Face film festival in Tasmania in 2017. The award recognises an influential and innovative figure in the field of genre storytelling. At the festival they screened Gaylene's film Mr Wrong and Perfect Strangers, which were reviewed in depth by Lauren Carroll Harris for Real Time.[9]

She wrote, directed and produced Hope and Wire (2014) a drama mini series about the aftermath of the 2010/2011 Christchurch earthquakes.[4]

Preston's most recent documentary feature film My Year with Helen (2017) premiered at the Athena Film Festival in February 2018.[10]

In the 2019 New Year Honours, Preston was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to film.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Taylor, Alister, ed. (2001). New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa 2001. Auckland: Alister Taylor Publishers. p. 722. ISSN 1172-9813.
  2. ^ Hogan, Ambrose (21 October 2010). "Review of 'Home By Christmas'". Thinking Faith. British Province of the Society of Jesus. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  3. ^ "Perfect Strangers". Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. New Zealand Archive of Film, Television and Sound Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua Me Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Archived from the original on 23 January 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b "NZ On Screen". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Women of Influence winners". Stuff. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  6. ^ "Gaylene Preston Film maker". The Arts Foundation. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  7. ^ "New Year honours list 2002". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2001. Retrieved 3 August 2019.
  8. ^ Chapman, Katie (31 May 2011). "It's all go on Wellywood hill". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  9. ^ "Stranger with tape on her face". Real Time. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  10. ^ "Athena Film Festival". Athena Film Festival. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  11. ^ "New Year honours list 2019". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2018. Retrieved 11 January 2019.

External links

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