Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand


Actress, MC, Speaker, 2020 New Zealander of the Year

Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand is the leading lady of New Zealand theatre. She’s an actor, director, union campaigner and te reo Māori advocate. Over the last 40 years the award-winning actress has amassed a list of stage and screen credits that would make the Encyclopaedia Britannica seem short. She toured New Zealand and internationally in the music-theatre group, The Front Lawn, alongside Harry Sinclair and Don McGlashan; starred to international acclaim in the melodrama film, Desperate Remedies and was a core-cast member of the hugely popular Australian sketch comedy TV series, Full Frontal. Over the last 20 years, Jennifer has also directed theatre, musicals and cabaret - most recently her first short film - and she is New Zealand’s first fully accredited Intimacy Coordinator for stage and screen. Jennifer is a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for her services to film, television and theatre; one of New Zealand’s highest accolades. Despite being Pākehā, Jennifer has dedicated much of her time to learning and promoting the importance of te reo Māori, and it was this, along with her other achievements that saw her named as Kiwibank’s 2020 New Zealander of the Year. As one of New Zealand’s most respected and beloved entertainers Jennifer is a highly sought after presenter and guest speaker. Ever the professional she brings warmth and experience to all her projects.




Auckland, New Zealand


After Dinner Speaker, Compere/MC, Judge, Keynote Speaker, Live Performance Host, MC / Stage compere, Panellist, Singer


Intimacy Coordination (for stage & screen), Current Affairs, Directing, Film & Television, Musical Theatre, Opera, Te Reo Māori , Teaching, Theatre, Travel


Testimonials (12)

New Zealand Institute of Architects - Nov 2020

Jennifer, you held the evening together with poise and confidence, and the audience in the Waterfront Theatre in Auckland was purring with delight at your te reo pronunciation and fluency.

You’ve been integral to the success of the awards programme this year – thank you very much.

John Walsh - Communications Director

We have used Jennifer a number of times in the past… this is because she is so reliable, professional and is able to adapt at a moment’s notice. She takes the stress out of script-writing and the performance. She is the ultimate MC; proficient and skilled with class and mana. She is mesmerising to watch and a pleasure to work with.

Daryne Begbie - Events & Sponsorship Director