6.18am – and I’m up writing with my six year old sitting next to me. I tried to tip-toe past her room but before I could take my first step she was up (!) She’s got ears like a hawk. We’re sitting together on beanbags with a big duvet covering us in the lounge. She’s watching the Ninth Ninja on Cartoon Network…while mummy grabs a moment to write (Mr 2.5 is still asleep so these few minutes are precious!)

I’ve got a meeting this morning that I’m excited about. My sister, Chantelle, and I are making a short film and we’re due to shoot it in five weeks. Chantelle is a Film Director so thankfully she knows what she’s doing, she’s the tuakana when it comes to this process. We started writing the script about three years ago and it’s set in 1990s Auckland and – wait for it (yes!) – it’s about two sisters. More to come on the story in coming weeks but suffice to say that it provides insight into a pretty tough period in our lives…

Co-writing the script – which is based on a deeply personal narrative that needed to be shaped and translated for the screen – was tough. But we got there in the end and it was a huge honour to receive NZ Film Commission Fresh Shorts Funding to make it.

Because of this, we needed to make sure that the producer we chose was someone who we both connected to and who would completely ‘get it’ in terms of realising this film’s potential. So I’m really pleased to announce that we’re collaborating with another talented NZ Film Director of Pasifika descent Marina McCartney who has come onboard as our producer. Over recent years Chantelle and I have become really close to Marina and we both consider her to be a part of our family.

Between Chantelle and Marina, I’m privileged to be working with two amazingly gifted New Zealand women film-makers. I am in awe of their talent and abilities and am learning new things all the time. For a sense of the calibre of talent we’re talking about, check out the clips from their short films (below).

Now you’re probably wondering – how on earth does Leilani do all of this, as well as running for Parliament, bringing up the kids, working etc. etc. – well the only answer that I have for you: is that I do. And that I excel under pressure…but even more importantly, I make sure that everything I commit to – everything I do – matters. And I choose to do the things I do with amazing people who are equally committed to making the world a better place. So who better for me to be making my first film with than two women who feel as strongly and passionately as I do. And who are as driven as I am.

Especially as I know that this film – called *SISTA* is going to make a difference in the lives of many young NZ women – it’s a story that needs to be told, and I’m proud to be telling it with two women that I deeply respect. Watch this space!

Tatau (directed by Chantelle Burgoyne)


Milk and Honey (directed Marina McCartney)