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Believe in the power of storytelling.  

When people tell their own stories they have the power to change the world.

It is through story-telling that we find connection, and connection creates understanding. 

black iris

Black Iris is an independent production company. We specialise in the development and creation of powerful and memorable documentary stories. 



Kathleen is the director of Black Iris Productions. She is an award winning director who has 20 years experience as a documentary maker in New Zealand and in the United States.


Read full bio >

Grunge Wall

"Everyone has a story. It's often the quiet stories that might be missed with all the noise in the world that are the best and most intriguing"


— Kathleen Mantel




the return

Māori left rural life behind, in the fastest urban shift anywhere in the world. 

And now the time to return has come.

8 x half hour documentary series for Whakaata Māori.

Funded by Te Māngai Pāho and NZ on Air.

Production Company: Black Iris
Director/Producer: Kathleen Mantel

lady in bush.jpg
Boy with Grandfather with bow in hand. Chatham Islands. Black Iris
Chatham Islanders Director Kathleen Mantel Bronze Winner
Chatham Islanders Director Kathleen Mantel Berlin International TV series fesvial

Chatham Islanders

Tchakat Tchatam Airani


Rēkohu. Wharekauri. The Chatham Islands.

The first inhabited place to see the sun.

‘We’re 45 minutes ahead, and 30 years behind’


CHATHAM ISLANDERS is a 7-part documentary series about life on The Chatham Islands. It’s a series about people, community, isolation, connection and making it through tough times.  

“Everyone’s a character on The Chatham Islands.” 

Rēkohu is the land of plenty, stunningly beautiful… with a dark past and a mistold history. 

Production company: Black Iris

Producer/Director: Kathleen Mantel


The Barber. Documentary by Black Iris.


The Barber is a documentary series about Barber Peleti Oli-Alainu'uese and the Māori and Pacific community of men who frequent his Hastings barbershop. 


The series follows Peleti as he confronts his past in an attempt to heal himself and support his community.

View the series >


Production Company: BLACK IRIS

Director/Producer: Kathleen Mantel


Grunge Wall

Director: Kathleen Mantel

Whānau - Director

Documentary Whakaata Māori

High School Mums – Director

Documentary series TVNZ1

Making New Zealand:
Mining, Forestry, Construction
- Director

Documentary PRIME

Target Zero - Director/Producer

Documentary MTS

The Palace - Director/Post Director

Documentary series MTS

Whānau Ora: The Story - Director

Documentary TV3

Educating Tama - Director

Documentary MTS

The Green Chain - Director

Documentary MTS

Dying for a Smoke - Director

Documentary TV3

Tamariki Ora: A New Beginning - Director

Documentary series MTS

Raising the Moko - Director

Documentary MTS

Crowded House - Director

Documentary TV1


Leaving the Exclusive Brethren - Director

Documentary TV3

It’s Not a Game - Director

Documentary TV1

Easy Money - Director

Documentary TV3

KIDS - The Story of Teenage pregnancy - Director Documentary TV2


Chatham Islanders - Tchakat Tchatam Airani

Best Factual Series

- NZTV Awards

Bronze Winner 

-New York Festivals Film and TV Awards

Official selection: 

-Berlin TV Series Festival


-ImagineNATIVE Film and Media Festival


-FIFO Tahiti.

High School Mums         Finalist

Best Factual Series

- NZTV Awards

The Green Chain

Best Popular Documentary

- NZ TV Awards

Best Short Documentary

- Doc Edge Festival 

Official Selection


Target Zero              

NZONAIR Best Television documentary

Crowded house              
Bronze Remi

- Houston International Film Festival

Leaving the Exclusive Brethren 
Creative Excellence

- US Film and Video Awards


- Houston International Film Festival                          

It’s Not a Game            

-  Hugo Awards Chicago 


- Houston International Film Festival

Gold Remi

- Houston International Film Festival 


Arts Reporter              Finalist

- Qantas Media Awards

G4TV promo                 Gold PROMAX Advertising award for LA company G4TV 

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