Ways of the whio


Watch out Peter Jack­son. At 14, young Palmer­ston North film­maker Sarah Ris­dale is al­ready a multi-award win­ner. Just be­fore Christ­mas Sarah went to Welling­ton to re­ceive two awards for her clay­ma­tion film Whenua Finds a Fu­ture.

Each year, as­pir­ing film­mak­ers are given the chal­lenge each year of mak­ing a film of no more than 5 min­utes in length for the Mak­ing A Dif­fer­ence film com­pe­ti­tion run by the char­ity In­spir­ing Fu­tures. While not pick­ing up the grand prize, Sarah was awarded the Cre­ativ­ity & Cul­ture Award and the En­vi­ron­ment/Kaiti­aki Award. Her film about Whenua, a whio or threat­ened blue duck, was in­spired af­ter she won a DoC com­pe­ti­tion to go to Ton­gariro and learn about their habi­tat and the threats to it.

Bub, the DoC ranger in Sarah’s movie is based on ac­tual ranger, Bub Smith.

‘‘He plays the ukulele in the movie, but in real life he doesn’t,’’ Sarah re­veals. ‘‘He is full of yarns about whio lore.’’

Bub trav­elled from Tu­rangi to at­tend the awards with Sarah and her fam­ily.

Com­prised of some 1200 in­di­vid­ual pho­to­graphs, it’s not the first award Whenua has landed for the tal­ented sto­ry­teller. Her film was one of 20 win­ners in the 2015 Out­look for Some­day Chal­lenge, win­ning the Young Voices for Change Award.

Nor are those the first film ac­co­lades for Sarah. In 2013 when aged 12, her film Cows and Cleaner Dairy­ing, was an In­spir­ing Sto­ries fi­nal­ist and took top spot in the 2012 7- to-13-year-old sec­tion of the Reel Earth En­v­i­ron- men­tal Film Fes­ti­val.

That gave her the chance to meet Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Corn­wall, dur­ing their royal visit to New Zealand and Sarah pre­sented the royal cou­ple with a copy of her film.

‘‘I like the way film can com­bine sci­ence and con­ser­va­tion to tell a story and get a mes­sage across.’’

Her movie ca­reer she puts down to get­ting a clay­ma­tion kit for Christ­mas when she was 11.

Sarah’s next film will be live ac­tion rather than clay­ma­tion.

‘‘I’ve writ­ten a script for a com­edy, a mock­u­men­tary – just a fun one, about 10 – 15 min­utes long maybe.’’

Sarah’s films can be viewed on You Tube


On the set of Whenua Finds a Fu­ture, 14 year-old film­maker Sarah Ris­dale with Bub, her ‘lead­ing man’ and Whenua the plas­ticine whio, has won a clutch of na­tional film­mak­ing awards.

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