Friends of Nancy Brunning


Choose a theme

Copy (Ctrl C) the code below

"He kōkonga whare e kitea, he kōkonga ngākau e kore e kitea" (1)

"Excuse me, sorry to bother you, but is it okay if my daughter and I have our photo taken with you?"

Anyone that has spent time out and about with Nancy Brunning knows this is a regular question from kiwis. Humble as always, Nan always obliges, in her shy way. Every time she does, she reminds us of how important it is, for all of us, to have strong story tellers representing Aotearoa.

When we watch our friend pose for the photo, out of her comfort zone but with love, our hearts sing as we see the connection Nan has made with so many people through her exceptional talent, deep knowing and commitment to the arts in Aotearoa. We are reminded of the moments we've had where Nan has transformed and inspired us on stage, and screen, and given us insight that has changed our lives.

Our dear friend, he wahine toa (2) , is unwell. But we can help. With the marvels of medicine we can show our love for Nan by buying us all more time with her. We can ensure that she finishes some important projects including the first show that was announced for the inaugural Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival. Developed and written by Nan, with the blessing of Witi Ihimaera, 'Witi's Wahine', premieres in October 2019 at the festival in Gisborne.

"She was my first Nanny Flowers to ride the whale and ever since then she has been leading the way riding the whale of performing arts for all women in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Darling Nancy keep on riding the whale of performing arts and leading us onward!" Witi Ihimaera

Nancy played Nanny Flowers while at her highschool, Taupō-nui-a-Tia

We have an opportunity to give a gift to someone who has given so much to our country. Nan has taught us the power of generosity by always being there for us and the sector. Through her, we have learned what commitment to a role brings as she gifted herself to us, in a totally selfless and exceptionally powerful way, every time she stepped onto the stage, directed works or featured on screen.

You might have seen Nan on screen in 'What Becomes of the Broken Hearted' or as Jaki Manu on 'Shortland Street'. On stage you could have been there for ground breaking performances, such as in the New Zealand Festival with 'Hide 'n' Seek' and 'Waiora' and 'Blue Smoke'. You may have worked with her. For example, Nan was the acting coach on Taika Waititi's Oscar nominated 'Two Cars One Night'.

Currently Nan is a writer, director and producer with Hāpai Productions - a company she created to uphold and celebrate Māori integrity. She wrote, directed and produced her first play 'Hikoi' in 2015, which premiered at the Auckland Arts Festivall. Last year she recrafted Roly Habib's writing into a theatrical work called 'Portrait of an Artist Mongrel'. Earlier this year, she directed Young and Hungry's touring project 'I am Māori' and was instrumental in assisting Mitch Tawhi Thomas to launch his new play 'Pakaru' at the Kia Mau Festival at BATS. Nan is a director, producer, dramaturge, administrator, board member, educator, keeper of truth and a fierce representative of Kaupapa Whakaari (3).

Doctors have given Nan the go ahead to have a special drug that is known to prolong life in these circumstances. However, the special medication is not subsidised and costs $7,000 per month. 

Let's ensure more time for Nan and more time for her mahi as an exceptional arts practitioner in Aotearoa. 



(1) One can see the corners of a house, but the corners of the heart are without bounds
(2) Although strong and hearty
(3) Māori in the theatrical arts

Nga mihi nui ki a Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival who provided the photos above, which were taken by Brennan Thomas - Strike Photography.


  • Nga mihi nui

    3 DAYS AGO

    Thank you!

    This Boosted project is special. It has the largest number of donors for one project in the history of Boosted. It’s a gathering of people that have shared values and beliefs around a person who exemplifies what we all believe in, who has inspired us, and who has given so much to the things we all think are super important.

    We knew there was a lot of love in our community. We also knew that if we needed to, we would come together. We called, you came, and we are very grateful.

    Thank you very much for your support. This is a proud moment for our community and an expression of aroha that is having a deep impact.

    Nan started her treatment a couple of days ago. Thanks to you, we have all we need to ensure she has the best chance of beating this thing.

    A chance to get together

    Can you get to Gisborne in October? If so, come see the world premiere of Nancy’s new play Witi’s Wahine (promo picture above thanks to Strike Photography).

    Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival is the Gisborne region’s new flagship contemporary arts and cultural event, taking place, for the first time, from 4-20 October this year. Witi’s Wāhine is based on excerpts from Witi Ihimaera stories, including Parihaka Woman, Medicine Woman and Waituhi. Mere Boynton, Roimata Fox, Ani-Piki Tuari and Ngapaki Moetara are on stage in this theatrical celebration of some of the most formidable and inspirational wāhine Māori characters to have graced the pages of New Zealand fiction. We would not expect anything less from the pen of Nancy Brunning.

    He mihi aroha, he mihi nui ki a koutou.

    Nga mihi nui
  • Arohanui ki a koutou katoa


    A message from Nan

    With one woman stands a thousand
    Witi Ihimaera - Quote from Women Far Walking

    I have lost a lot of women in my family to cancer. Beautiful, charming, knowledgeable, strong, Māori leaders who should still be here. They should be passing knowledge on to their rangatahi, so it can be shared with the next generation. But none of them had time. Most of them died before they become grandmothers.

    Mum died of cancer at 47, I was ten years old. At the time, I did not believe I would survive without her. This year I turned 48. I've passed passed mum and I'm on a mission - to miraculously break the cycle of cancer in my family.

    I celebrated my 48th birthday in the hospital going through a major operation and preparing for another one the following week. After the first op, I felt so grateful I was alive, I couldn’t stop smiling. The second time I woke I felt relieved. I was humbled.

    So much can be achieved with time. All of you who have messaged, donated, shared our Boosted page, wished me well - you are buying me time. Time to contribute to the career that I love and to share stories with generations of audiences throughout Aotearoa and the world.

    Most importantly, this campaign has given me time to experience extraordinary kindness, generosity and love. It's been overwhelming. I worry that while I receive support, some people are hungry and homeless. I have friends who are prepared to put their homes on the line for me. Whānau going through their own struggles, without hesitation, have donated. I can’t help but feel vulnerable and humbled.

    And now it’s time to thank you all. And for truly understanding how precious time is, and what I can do with it. I lost all my female mentors to cancer. My daughter never got to meet either of her grandmothers. What would life have been like if she’d had time with these amazing women?

    With one woman stands a thousand. With every woman we lose to cancer, we lose generations of knowledge and nurturing.

    Thank you for buying me time. Your gift will enable me to complete my projects and perhaps make more work. I also hope to live to an age where I might share my knowledge with my mokopuna.

    I thank you, I love you and I will always be grateful. Arohanui ki a koutou katoa.


    Team Update 

    We have been blown away by the response, there is just so much love and respect for Nan. Thank you again. It's been wonderful to go over the target and more support is welcome. 

    The more we raise, the better quality of life we can provide for Nan. We may have been a little bit conservative with our target at first with regard to Nan's actual needs, but we felt shy about the huge ask. However, we have been overwhelmed by your generosity and the way our beautiful community has come together.

    He mihi aroha, he mihi nui ki a koutou.