Briar Grace-Smith is an award-winning writer of plays, television scripts and short stories. Her plays have toured nationally and internationally to Australia, Canada and Greece. Her first play Ngā Pou Wāhine won the 1995 Bruce Mason Playwriting Award and Purapurawhetū won Best New Zealand Play at the 1997 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards. Her other plays include When Sun and Moon Collide, Haruru Mai and Potiki's Memory of Stone. She has also adapted her plays and written children’s stories for National Radio.
Her television drama Fishskin Suit won best drama at the NZ Television Awards and Charlie The Dreaded was one of six Maori language stories produced for the Aroha series. She has worked as a writer and storyliner on various television drama series including Being Eve, and Kaitangata Twitch, a series adapted from the Margaret Mahy novel. She was a co-writer with Dave Armstrong on Billy, a tele-feature about the life of comedian Billy T James, which premiered in 2011. Briar has also worked as a writer for Te Papa Tongarewa, the National Museum.
Her first feature film The Strength of Water premiered at Rotterdam and Berlin Film Festivals in February 2009. Briar’s second feature film was Fresh Meat, a comedy horror. She has written a short film, Lilly and Ra, which was directed by Armagan Ballantyne for the United Nations in 2008 and co-wrote and directed the short film 9 of Hearts. In 2010 she received the New Zealand Writers Guild award for Best Screenplay, The Strength of Water. Briar co-directed and wrote the screenplay for the feature film Cousins, released in 2021.
In 2000, Briar received the Arts Foundation Laureate award. She was a finalist for the Prize in Modern Letters announced in 2002. In 2003 she was the writer in residence at Victoria University. She completed her MA in 'writing for page' in 2008. Briar was appointed Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to theatre, film and television, in the 2018 Queen's Birthday Honours.
Briar Grace-Smith is of Ngā Puhi and Ngāti Wai descent.