Ainsley Gardiner (Ngāti Awa, Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Pikiao and Whakatōhea) produced Taika Waititi’s short films Two Cars, One Night and Tama Tu and went on to collaborate with him on his first two feature films, Eagle Vs Shark and Boy.

Her first short film as a writer/director, Mokopuna, had a successful festival life, winning gold at the Dreamspeaker Indigenous Film Festival. She was one of the nine wāhine māori filmmakers to write and direct for the acclaimed feature film Waru. In 2018 Ainsley was awarded the Mana Wāhine award at the Wairoa Festival and was also made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to film.

She is a recipient of The 2019 Merata Mita Fellowship, alongside Briar Grace-Smith and was the co-Director (with Briar) of the feature film Cousins to be released in 2021. This was adapted from the novel written by Patricia Grace.