The first day on high

Ac­tor, writer and di­rec­tor Jackie van Beek pic­tured with her chil­dren Cassie (6 months), Em­mett (3 1/2) and June (5) on Bealey Spur, out­side Arthur’s Pass in 2012. This was one of the lo­ca­tions for van Beek’s short film Uphill, in which a teenage run­away

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“Bealey Spur is one of my favourite places in the world. We have a bach in Arthur’s Pass, one that my grand­par­ents bought and ex­tended – it’s now a two-room bach. It’s the most beau­ti­ful, rudi­men­tary climb­ing hut. It’s got pic­tures of my grand­par­ents ev­ery­where in their cram­pons and hik­ing books in the 70s, pho­tos of my par­ents when they were young, and pho­tos of my par­ents when we were young. And now pho­tos of my kids. When you go there, it feels like gen­er­a­tions and gen­er­a­tions of out­door walk­ers. There’s no TV, no print­ers, no com­puter. It was slightly dis­ap­point­ing when we started get­ting phone cov­er­age there, be­cause back in the day I’d go down there mainly to climb moun­tains but some­times I’d go down there to write a film or plays. If I needed to email, I used to have to walk down into the vil­lage and get a cof­fee or a beer and give them my $2.

My hus­band Jesse would have taken this photo. I re­mem­ber that day was the first time we’d got the kids up to that point. I can get up there by my­self in just over an hour. With the kids it prob­a­bly took a good three hours. On the way down we searched our back­packs for any sort of food they would con­sider a treat, and one of us would run down the track a bit fur­ther and hide the treat and come back and ex­cit­edly talk about what may be hid­den just around the next cor­ner. That’s a trick I learnt off my aunt.

But when you get to that point and you look out over that river val­ley, that feel­ing can’t be beat.

In one of my short films, Uphill, there’s a shot ex­actly there look­ing out over the river val­ley. I cast my­self in that film – maybe just to get the walk up the hill again. I had to per­suade all of the crew to lug their very heavy gear up there, which they thor­oughly en­joyed.

There’s some­thing about look­ing at those three young chil­dren at such an al­ti­tude that re­ally lifts my spir­its. My hus­band and I, we’re al­ways get­ting our kids to strive for some­thing that may, when they’re sit­ting at the bot­tom of the carpark, seem im­pos­si­ble to them. But when they’re sit­ting at the top, they have that sense of achieve­ment and can think, against all odds, we did that. Britt Mann


Jour­nal­ist Martin van Bey­nen stands in front of a wall of ev­i­dence from the David Bain case, in the up­stairs bed­room of his home, south of cen­tral Christchurch. He’s been fol­low­ing the case for two decades. PHOTO: JOSEPH JOHN­SON/STUFF

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