Nancy Brunning joined the nursing staff on Shortland Street's first episode, directly from drama school. After extensive work in Māori theatre, she stole the screen in 1999's Once Were Warriors sequel What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?, winning an NZ Film Award as gang girl Tania. Further gongs followed for Treaty of Waitangi piece Nga Tohu: Signatures. In 2008 Brunning directed WWII-era short Journey to Ihipa.

She is an actress whose personal integrity shows through in her work. She’s a very strong, very honest actor. What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? director Ian Mune

Screenography

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Kerosene Creek

2004, As: Mother - Short Film

One summer’s day, teenaged Jayde (Atarangi Manley) and Wiremu (Darcey-Ray Flavell-Hudson) tag along with their older siblings on a trip to a local swimming hole; young passions ignite by the Rotorua hot pool. Later, tragedy occurs and Jayde faces lost innocence and the ritual of tangi while bearing a secret. Michael Bennett’s short — cutting between Jayde’s experience of the day and its aftermath — was shot in his Te Arawa home environs. It won selection for the 2005 Berlin Film Festival; 'Mu' was an early role for Flavell-Hudson (Mt Zion, Ghost Chips ad fame).

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Two Cars, One Night

2003, Acting Coach - Short Film

Youngsters Romeo, Ed, and Polly wait in two cars after dark while their parents are inside drinking. It’s a situation many Kiwis would recognise: cars in loco parentis outside the bar or rugby club. Soon cross-car rivalry warms to budding friendship. Winning performances, and the tender mix of comedy and romance saw the tale of a Te Kaha pub carpark become an international hit. Two Cars won a boot-full of awards, launched Waititi’s career, and was the second NZ short to gain an Oscar nod (Waititi infamously feigned sleep during the 2005 Academy Awards ceremony).

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Turangawaewae / A Place to Stand

2003, As: Rose - Short Film

Actor Wi Kuki Kaa (1938 - 2006) plays Tiare, a Vietnam War veteran who is dislocated by his experiences of war, and homelessness. He wanders the city streets, collecting ephemera in plastic bags. Nancy Brunning plays his daughter, who, with her own daughter, visits their reluctant koro (old man) to convince him to visit his ancestral home. The result is a moving story about a man jolted to find his turangawaewae (place to stand), and the whanau that helps him get there. Directed by Peter Burger, the film was selected for Critics' Week at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.

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What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?

1999, As: Tania Rogers - Film

More than just a sequel to Once Were Warriors, this film is about the redemption of Jake the Muss. It picks up the story after Jake has turned his back on his family (his wife has left him to escape the violence) and is up to his usual tricks in McClutchy's Bar. One day, as he downs his latest opponent, he's unaware that his son has died in a gang fight. Scripted by Alan Duff, directed by Ian Mune, the film was the 2nd-highest-earning NZ film of the 1990s, (eclipsed only by Warriors). It scooped the categories at the 1999 NZ Film & TV Awards.

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Crooked Earth

2001, As: Marama - Film

When his father dies, Will Bastion (Temuera Morrison) returns home after an absence of 20 years. Tradition dictates that he takes on the mantle of tribal chief, but he's not interested. His brother, Kahu, seizes the opportunity, but he's a drug-dealing thug with radical ideas. When Will sees the impact of Kahu's actions, he must choose whether to act. Directedby Sam Pillsbury as a contemporary western, Crooked Earth was his first New Zealand film since 1987's Starlight Hotel. Variety called it "handsomely mounted and compelling".  

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White Lies

2013, As: Ariana - Film

This feature film follows Māori medicine woman Paraiti (Whirimako Black) on a rare Auckland visit from her Urewera home. She meets a Māori servant (Rachel House) and is drawn into helping a wealthy Pākehā woman (Outrageous Fortune’s Antonia Prebble) with a scandalaous and life-threatening secret. The tale of culture clash and deception in settler New Zealand is directed by Mexican filmmaker Dana Rotberg (Otlia Rauda), who adapted the story from the Witi Ihimaera novella, Medicine Woman. Producer John Barnett was also behind the adaptation of Ihimaera’s Whale Rider.

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The Pā Boys

2014, As: Puti's Mum - Film

"It is about 'life, death and fu*king good music'" runs the tagline to this movie, which follows a Wellington band playing East Coast and Northland pubs, as they head for Cape Reinga. On the road to Te Rerenga Wairua the boys go on a roots journey that is both musical (the cast includes singer Francis Kora, with songs by Trinity Roots' Warren Maxwell) and personal (mateship, whānau, whakapapa). The debut from writer/director Himiona Grace was co-produced by Ainsley Gardiner (Boy) and Mina Mathieson (Warbrick). It was released in NZ cinemas in February 2014.

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Ngā Tohu: Signatures

2000, As: Keri/Hinewai - Television

This TV drama follows a whānau taking a claim to the Waitangi tribunal, over plans by a Pākehā neighbour to build a resort on disputed land. Ngā Tohu jumps between the present day and 1839/40, when Māori chiefs were canvassed to support the Treaty of Waitangi and a settler makes an equivocal land deal with Chief Tohu (George Henare). The exploration of the Treaty's evolving kaupapa is effectively humanised by an age-old love story, and it scored multiple drama gongs at 2000's TV Awards. Director Andrew Bancroft wrote the teleplay with playwright Hone Kouka.

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Shortland Street - Highlights from the first 15 years

1992 - 1994, As: Jaki Manu - Television

Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an eponymous inner city Auckland hospital. A South Pacific Pictures production, the iconic show is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the staff, family and patients. Screening five days a week on TV2 it is New Zealand’s longest running drama. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture, most famously, "you're not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!". This 2007 promo, set to the theme song, collects together highlights from the first 15 years of the show.

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Fish Skin Suit

2000, As: Mere - Television

While playing at the beach with their grandmother, two children witness an Elvis impersonator walk out of the sea. They believe he's the "fishman" lover of a female taniwha, Hine Tai. Magic realist mayhem — and tragedy — ensues as the stranger stirs up the life of their whanau in the quiet fishing village. The fable, written by Briar Grace-Smith and directed by Peter Burger, received six nominations at 2002 NZ TV Awards, winning Best Drama, and Camera. It screened on TV3 and features the Bic Runga song 'All Fall Down'.

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The Strength of Water

2009, As: Joy - Film

Released in Kiwi cinemas in August 2009 - after winning praise at festivals in Berlin and Rotterdam - The Strength of Water marks the big-screen debut of Māori playwright Briar Grace-Smith, and Pākehā director Armagan Ballantyne. The film centres on a 10-year-old twin brother and sister in an isolated part of the Hokianga, and the events that follow when they encounter a young stranger. The Strength of Water merges a spare, naturalistic portrait of a Māori family struggling to stay above water, with moody images of earth and sea, loss and new beginnings.

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When Love Comes

1998, As: Fig - Film

When Love Comes features Rena Owen as a once were famous singing star who returns to NZ, in need of reinvention. Staying with a close gay friend (Simon Prast), she is reenergised after meeting a wastral songwriter (Dean O'Gorman) and two loved up young musos (Sophia Hawthorne and Nancy Brunning, the former in her big screen debut). Invited to a slew of North American festivals — including Sundance and Toronto — Garth Maxwell's sun and song-lashed tale won stateside praise for its "energetic direction" (The Hollywood Reporter) and impassioned performances.

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For Arts Sake - Waiora

1996, Subject - Television

Arts magazine series For Arts Sake screened on TV ONE for two hours on Sunday mornings for 22 weeks in 1996. This segment features the acclaimed Hone Kouka play Waiora - The Homeland, about a Māori family struggling to deal with their move from traditional rural ways to city life in 1960s New Zealand. The item includes excerpts from the play, and interviews with playwright Kouka, director Murray Lynch, and cast members Rawiri Paratene, Nancy Brunning and Mick Rose. The play and this story feature both English and Te Reo Māori.  

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Keeping Up the Love Thing

1993, Performer - Music video

The Katene Sisters were a Shortland Street creation — a vocal group from the past of character nurse Jackie Manu (Nancy Brunning), reformed for a talent quest. The other members were her cousins, but only one (Annie Crummer) appeared, allowing nurse Carrie Bradshaw (Lisa Crittenden) to step in. Though they didn’t win, they were given a brief life outside the show with their song (written by Crummer and ex Holidaymaker Barbara Griffin) released as single. The video shows them getting down to business in the recording studio, with Crummer in her element.

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Mataku

2001 - 2005, As: Te Ringamatou - Television

Described as a "Māori Twilight Zone", Mataku was a series of half-hour dramatic narratives steeped in Māori experience with the "unexplained". Two South Pacific Pictures-produced series screened on TV3; a later series screened on TV One in 2005. Each episode was introduced by Temuera Morrison Rod Serling-style. The bi-lingual series was a strong international and domestic success; producer Carey Carter: "Our people are very spiritual ... and here we are ... turning it into stories so that the rest of the world can get a glimpse of that aspect of our culture."

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Whanau

2006, As: Kura

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Haruru Mai

2001, Actor

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Nga Wahine

1997, As: Daina

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Haka Wahine

1998, As: Kura Thomas

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Kōrerō Mai

2004 - 2008, As: Maia, As: Maia

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The Cult

2009 - 2009, As: Mrs Thomas

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Journey to Ihipa

2008, Director

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