Team

Meet the team behind Day One Hāpai te Haeata

Chris Widdup

CEO Executive Director

he / him

Having led Connected Media Trust and served as the Executive Producer for Day One Shorts (formerly Someday Stories) since 2018, Chris brings a wealth of experience to the table.

With a background in acting, camera operation, editing, producing, and directing, Chris loves the challenge of delivering compelling and challenging stories for a local and global audience. He served as Series Producer on the first series of Day One Shorts and co-Executive Producer on subsequent series. His passion lies in finding and nurturing the next generation of creative talent.

Whakapapa and whānau background: Pākehā, descended from Scottish, Irish and English immigrants to Aotearoa in the late 1800s. Chris has strong ties both to Ōtautahi Christchurch and Te Kōpuru in the Kaipara region.

Principles in Play: Authenticity / Kindness / Creativity / Trustworthiness / Adventure

Anna Duckworth

Director

she / her

Anna is a strong leader driven to achieve meaningful collaboration. She has worked in film and television for a decade, both in New York City, and Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland – joining Day One in 2020.

Anna has written and directed several short films, including New Zealand Film Commission-funded Pain, screened as part of the 2020 New Zealand International Film Festival’s New Zealand’s Best programme. The film went on to be selected at over 30 international festivals including Busan, AspenShorts and Stockholm.

Recent highlights include being awarded a New Zealand Writers Guild Seed Grant to develop the feature Put a Baby in Me about queer motherhood and winning the People’s Choice Award for her romcom short Just Kidding I Actually Love You(2023’) at Show Me Shorts Film Festival, 2023.

Whakapapa and whānau background: Sturdy celtic peasant stock. Originally from Ireland, Anna’s whānau arrived in Aotearoa in 1839, absconding from a whaling ship.

Principles in Play: Creativity / Humour / Kindness / Contribution

Rina Patel

Day One Shorts Series Producer

she/her

A former acting graduate of Te Kura o Aotearoa Toi Whakaari and an alumna of Auckland University MA Screenwriting/Directing, Rina has worked across various domains of film, TV, and theatre.

A short-fiction writer, poet, and occasional actor, Rina spent several years as a project manager for Mixit, empowering refugee youth through creativity. Currently, she serves as the Day One Shorts Series Producer, supporting potent storytelling and digital content to amplify, provoke, and evolve filmmakers and audiences alike.

Whakapapa and whānau background: “Nō Gujarat, India ahau.” Rina is cut of the same intricate fabric as New Zealand comedians; Tarun Mohanbhai, Sanjay Patel, social influencer Anita Chibha and children’s author/illustrator Vasanti Unka, all of whom are of the Gujarati-New Zealand diaspora. She is a proud second (possibly third! tbc) generation Indian-New Zealander.

Principles in Play: Hilarity / Meaningful Work / Respect / Risk / Kai

Alix Whittaker

Day One Shorts Series Producer

she/her

Producer of ambitious and award-winning music videos, short films and feature films, Alix boasts a notable portfolio that includes Daniel by Claire van Beek, Stray by Dustin Feneley, and Mega Time Squad by Tim van Dammen. Through her company Candlelit Pictures, Alix is immersed in developing and financing a diverse slate of feature films.Drawing from her experiences as a Producer Intern on Taika Waititi’s Hunt For The Wilderpeople, attending Ted Hope’s Producing Masterclass, Sue Maslin’s Producing Course, and Louise Gough’s Story Development Workshop, Alix has an unwavering commitment to infusing unique perspectives into the cinematic landscape.

Whakapapa and whānau background: Alix's heritage weaves together Scottish, Irish, and English roots, creating a diverse tapestry. As a sixth generation New Zealander, Waiuku holds a special place in her family history, shaping her identity as a Kiwi with a strong connection to the land.

Principles in Play: Autonomy / Fun / Honesty / Meaningful Work / Creative Ambition

Jocelyn Behrent

Accounts Coordinator

she/her

As the Accounts Coordinator for Day One Hāpai te Haeata, Jocelyn ensures smooth financial operations for the team. Beyond her professional responsibilities, she enjoys quality time with her three young adult children, gardening, scrapbooking, and nurturing her whānau and family relationships.

In addition to managing day-to-day financial transactions, her contribution to the team extends to instilling the confidence to pursue and realise creative dreams.

Whakapapa and whānau background: A born-and-bred Aucklander, Jocelyn’s family has been in Aotearoa for four generations.

Principles in Play: Determination / Responsibility / Fun / Kindness

Juliana Duran

Project Coordinator

she/her

As a contemporary visual artist and project coordinator, Juliana explores the intersection of arts and community engagement. She is a member of Sur-collective and Re:use collective, and a resident artist at Corban Estate Arts Centre. Juliana moved to Aotearoa seven years ago, after receiving a scholarship to complete a Master in Fine Arts at Auckland University. Outside the studio, she is committed to actively participating in initiatives aimed at empowering communities and establishing platforms for dialogue and creativity.

Whakapapa and whānau background: Juliana was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, and her family’s background is predominantly rooted in the Cauca and Huila region. She embraces a mestizo heritage that captures the fusion of Spanish and Indigenous ancestry.

Principles in Play: Compassion / Creativity / Service / Kindness / Support\

David Ciurlionis

Fundraising and Operations Manager

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Bringing an entrepreneurial background from the private sector and experience with iconic charities such as Auckland City Mission, the SPCA, and Make-A-Wish NZ, David brings a versatile skill set to the role, combining strategic planning, project management, and interpersonal communication. David holds an undergraduate degree in Māori Studies and a Masters in Creative Writing, and is also an actor and performer represented by ODD Management. He firmly believes in the power of storytelling and its ability to connect us.

Whakapapa and whānau background: Pākehā

Principles in Play: Honesty / Humour / Creativity

Natasha Matila-Smith

Social Media Manager

she/her

As an art practitioner, Natasha specialises in online aesthetics and emotional language. With a rich background in arts advocacy, administration, marketing, and communications, Natasha has served in key roles, including Media and Communications Manager at Tautai Pacific Arts Trust and online arts journal The Pantograph Punch. Currently, she contributes as a part-time Project Manager and Administrator for Arts Makers Aotearoa, championing a healthier landscape for visual artists and the broader arts sector. Natasha's versatile skill set encompasses over six years of digital marketing and communications, a writing and arts background, and a keen interest in film, reflecting her commitment to advancing the arts with an empathetic and collaborative approach.

Whakapapa and whānau background: Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Kahungunu, Pākehā, Samoan.

Principles in Play: Creativity / Authenticity / Community-driven / Empathy

Trustees

Krishna Guda

Bringing a wealth of corporate leadership experience to the board, Krishna offers a strong commercial foundation and an innate ability to develop and embed strategic partnerships. He contributes his commercial skills and management experience with a sense of curiosity, eagerness to learn, and a passion for collaborating, particularly driven by the project's mission to empower youth as sustainability storytellers.

Jeremiah Tauamiti

Proudly holding the High Chief titles of Fa’alavaau and Nanai from his father’s family and village of Falelātai in Samoa, Jeremiah is an award-winning writer/director deeply passionate about Pacific stories. He is an active filmmaker whose projects have debuted in various film festivals and whose mission is to contribute to the wellbeing of his community in every aspect he can. 

Benedict Reid

Proficient in funding, arts, screen, and writing, Benedict has accumulated over two decades of experience in the screen sector. He has served as a researcher, writer, producer, and, for the past 11 years, as a funder. While currently engaged full-time at Weta FX, Benedict also undertakes additional work through his screen consultancy company, primarily focusing on funding-related endeavours.

Sarina Pearson

Bringing a pedagogical and producing perspective, Sarina is an active academic and filmmaker with over 25 years of experience. Her background in teaching documentary production, ecocriticism, mockumentary, race representation, and media industries adds an educational dimension to the board. She has contributed to major films showcased at renowned international festivals and has published pieces in well recognized media journals.

Leigh Minarapa

With a background that includes production management for various projects and directing short films, Leigh is also the co-founder of Overcast Productions. Her empathetic perspective, drawn from her own experiences in the film industry, provides valuable insights and support to emerging talents navigating the exhilarating yet challenging journey of storytelling and filmmaking.