Jennifer Ward-Lealand. © Jessie Casson.

Top Spot: Jennifer Ward-Lealand


With a career in theatre, film and television spanning four decades, actor and director Jennifer Ward-Lealand has appeared in more than 120 performances, so it’s understandable the Māori language advocate and 2020 New Zealander of the Year craves the serenity of a secluded bay. 

“Our pilgrimage to Waiheke Island begins just after Christmas every year. We’ve had our place in Enclosure Bay for 25 years. It’s a simple little 1950s bach with a 1970s add-on.

The garden was a jungle when we first bought it and we’ve worked away at it over the years. It has a beautiful old plum tree and the best lemon tree.

Jennifer Ward-Lealand

Jennifer Ward-Lealand. © Jessie Casson

My favourite thing to do there is very little – reading, resting, swimming… Michael [husband and fellow actor Michael Hurst] rides to the shops on his electric bike so I don’t need to go out anywhere.

The bay is very tidal; few people bring their boats in. It’s where we taught our sons Jack and Cameron to kayak, and I enjoy snorkelling around the rocks.

Our cat Ruby has been coming on holiday with us since she was a kitten. She’s good on the ferry and loves exploring; she’ll come for walks with me off-lead and she even fears birds which is a bonus!”

Jennifer’s next role is in Auckland Theatre Company’s King Lear, opening on June 13


Story by Monica Tischler for the Autumn 2023 issue of AA Directions magazine. 

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