Tolkien’s latest unexpected journey
Residents of Nelson’s Ernest Rutherford Retirement Village were treated to the magic of Tolkien on Sunday, albeit from a kind-hearted relative.
British actor Royd Tolkien and a film crew were in Nelson this week to film part of a documentary that has brought him to Middle Earth for an epic journey befitting his surname.
There’s a Hole in My Bucket follows Tolkien, great-grandson of Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien, on a quest to fulfil his late brother Mike’s bucket list in both New Zealand and South America.
After Mike was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (ALS), Royd nursed his younger sibling through his final years until his death in 2015.
Tolkien then discovered that Mike had left him his bucket list to fulfil on his behalf - which has subsequently became the focus of the documentary. Every day Tolkien gets set a new challenge in a different part of NZ, unaware of what the new day will present.
Of the 50 challenges set, more than 40 will be carried out in New Zealand.
The crew had spent the past six weeks in the North Island where Tolkien had, among other challenges, explored the caverns of Waitomo Caves and cooked whitebait fritters with chef Peter Gordon.
While in Nelson, the crew were spending time on a challenge around the Motueka Valley before heading south later in the week.
In line with his brother’s wishes, Tolkien was also carrying out random acts of kindness along the way, which had led him to Ernest Rutherford on Sunday afternoon.
Tolkien said the purpose of the visit and other random acts was ‘‘just to be more aware of other people and to be more open to help and giving something back.’’
‘‘I thought it would be really nice to come and hang out for the day and do whatever I can to help – serving tea or just chatting.’’
Ernest Rutherford’s sales advisor Debbie Edwards said staff were ‘‘blown away’’ by the generosity shown by Tolkien during his Sunday afternoon visit.
‘‘They weren’t filming at all – they just wanted to give back, but honestly I wouldn’t have a more caring, compassionate genuine selfless person in my life – he was just amazing.’’
As well as spending time playing board game rummykub with residents, Tolkien spent more than two hours with resident Alan Harwood who, like his brother, suffered from a condition which limited his ability to communicate.
‘‘It was obviously a big thing for Royd, because that’s what it was like when he was caring for his brother ... it was very moving and very touching,’’ Edwards said.
‘‘Alan is a great man in our Nelson community for different things, so it was really awesome to see Royd engaging with Alan in such a true, genuinely compassionate mode.’’