Woman NZ

First lady of the the stage

This time last year, Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand was planning to do great things. The stage and screen legend had just won the prestigious title of New Zealander of the Year for her advocacy work in the arts and her commitment to te reo Māori, and her calendar was quickly filling up with speaking engagements and acting work.

But three weeks after the ceremony, where Jennifer was presented the award by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the country was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and went into lockdown. Suddenly, all of Jennifer’s commitments as New Zealander of the Year were cancelled, along with her acting, teaching, directing and voiceover jobs. For the first time in her 40-year career in the arts, one of our most accomplished actors wondered if it was time for a

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