Gaylene Barnes


Gaylene Barnes is a filmmaker and artist from Canterbury, New Zealand. She began her career in 1991 with a Diploma in Fine Arts in the emerging discipline of Computer Art. Since then, Barnes has crafted a body of work that is extensive and creative, using her screenwriting, directing, editing, graphic and cinematography skills. Her work spans genres, from drama to documentary, to experimental multimedia projects. Her focus is on unfolding environmental and humanitarian stories that work to enliven our human soul and spirit.

Barnes’ creative practical skills led to her designing several feature dramas and gaining a nomination at the 2000 NZ Film Awards for her design work on ‘Scarfies’—a hit movie about the Dunedin student experience. In 2005, she was nominated for Achievement in Editing at the New Zealand Screen Awards. In 2017, she co-produced and directed a feature documentary about an environmental protest, Seven Rivers Walking Haere Mārire which screened at the NZ International Film Festival where it had the largest single-screening of the festival.

She has directed or edited several documentaries about the Canterbury earthquakes and the terrorist attack in her home town of Christchurch. These include directing The Grand Plan, Project Fiftyone and as editor on When A City Rises, and We Are One: The Mosque Attacks One Year On.

Gaylene is also an exhibiting Artist and a Certified Organic Farmer.

Director’s Statement 

When the freedom convoy was first announced, to protest the vaccine mandates, I knew instantly that I had to film it and make a quality documentary.  I believe that forced medicalisation is a complete violation of human rights and medical freedom. I support fundamental human rights, the freedom to choose, and media without censorship. I believe the vaccine mandates implemented in New Zealand during 2021 and 2022 were unnecessary and an immoral violation of human dignity. 

The deplorable behaviour by the government and all parliamentarians, the lack of an active oppositional voice in our democratic institution, and the shock of seeing the wider society ill-advised and complicit in supporting the degradation of their fellow New Zealanders—inspired me to use my skills as a filmmaker to document the convoy protest fom its beginning on 6 February 2022 in Bluff, to the end at Parliament on March 2nd. I was impressed by all the people who participated, many had suffered indignities—yet they responded with love, tears, compassion, humour, resilience and an acknowledgement of the importance of community, spirituality, and connection.

During post-production we launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise money as we were unable to easily access the usual sources of government sponsored funding. The incredible support we received from thousands of ordinary New Zealanders was truly humbling and brought back faith in our common humanity.


With Paul Brennan on Reality Check Radio On How The Release Of The Doco ’River Of Freedom’ Is Going – 19 September 2023

In discussion with Jonathan Ayling on the Free Speech Union podcast – 8 September 2023

With Peter Williams on Reality Check Radio- 4 September 2023

In conversation with Chris Lynch Christchurch’s Newsroom- 2 September 2023