Kathleen Gallagher has created for us a journey of delight. Kathleen is director and co-producer but in truth it has been a family enterprise. Watching it makes you realise how incredibly beautiful is this land of Aotearoa and how fortunate we are to live here.
The common thread is reverence for mother earth, Papatuanuku. Some of the episodes are pure stories of conservation, such as the successful campaigns to save Lake Manapouri in the '70s (Alan Mark) and against the logging of the West Coast forests in the '80s (Craig Potton). Others speak of the gathering of medicinal herbs, the preservation of native seed, the restoration of the bush and the regeneration of native forests, the creation of good fertile soil for growing vegetables. But some simply rejoice in gathering the kai of the forest to grace the tables of gourmet dining (Charles Royal) and chanting the dream of a Maori kuia (Makere Ruka) for the re-creation of Maori culture.
There is much wisdom uttered and some delightful flashes of humour. There are many incidental references to the importance of not simply going it alone but taking the people with you. To give one example (out of many little gems of wisdom): Craig Potton talks about how to bring about social change. When you demonstrate, do it tactfully and only when you have no other cards to play. Then the public will get behind you. Social change starts always from a few dedicated individuals.
Kay Baxter speaks passionately that people must get back to growing their own food. Our food is the link to the earth we stand on: There is no separation between our bodies and Papatuanuku... we should trust our wairua (intuition) As more than one of our guides emphasised, what we were being taken on was a journey of spiritual healing, one profoundly educational. Little wonder that at the June launch in Dunedin, Mayor Peter Chin expressed the hope that this DVD would be shown in all schools, but he would certainly want his City Councillors to see it!
Papatuanuku is simply a huge pleasure to watch, to sit back and luxuriate in the beauty of our native birds and their song, the splendid variety of scenery, the haunting background waiata accompanied by pipes. The scenes flow into each other seamlessly and build to a wonderful climax in Makere Ruka's moving and poetic dream. She stresses that the important ones are the mokopuna, our grandchildren; she speaks out eloquently for the role of women who better to look after papatuanuku than the women of Aotearoa?
But perhaps most beautiful of all are the faces of our guides on this journey Maori and pakeha, men and women, young and not so young who rejoice in the sheer creativity and enterprise for good to be found in the Land of the long White Cloud.
Kathleen Gallagher has recorded for us, and celebrated, a transformation of our land, a quiet revolution which would receive little mention in the National Business Review. Did you know that now, as a result of the efforts of many anonymous Kiwis, one third of our forests, wetlands, coasts and mountains are protected in perpetuity? No taonga more precious than that!
- Michael Hill