River walks film’s genesis

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Christchurch filmmakers Kathleen Gallagher and Gaylene Barnes were in Gore last week for a showing of their documentary Seven Rivers Walking – Haere Marire

The film was shown at the St James Theatre on Friday.

Gallagher and Barnes spoke at the viewing and answered questions afterwards.

Gallagher said they decided to make the film after they discovered there were groups which walked the entire length of the rivers in autumn.

“We thought maybe we should film the opening [of the walks] and it grew from there,” Gallagher said.

The quality of New Zealand’s rivers was something she was passionate about, she said.

“It is very important to me.”

She lived close to the Heathcote River in Christchurch, which was badly polluted, she said.

“It is yellow and brown with sediment.

“It’s no good – our rivers don’t need to be like this.”

She wanted to encourage people to preserve the rivers so future generations could enjoy them, she said.

“I don’t want future generations to grow up thinking this is the way rivers are.

“I really don’t want them to grow up with filthy rivers.”

She and Barnes did a lot of research before embarking on the film, but they also learnt a great deal from those they talked to during its making, Gallagher said.

“We talked to a lot of people along the rivers that had done a lot more research than we had.

“Some of them had been researching this for years.”

There was more to the rivers than “what you see on the surface”, she said.

The drone and underwater footage added much to the film, Gallagher said.

“It shows you the river as a whole.”

She was moved by the support they received from people involved in the film, she said.

“It was a real privilege to work with them.”

The most challenging aspect was making the film in just seven months, Gallagher said.

“It was a pretty short timeframe.”

They wanted to have the film ready to show at the New Zealand International Film Festival in Christchurch in August, she said.

Making the movie had changed her perception of rivers, Gallagher said.

“I see rivers in a whole new light.”

She thought much more about how activities she carried out in everyday life affected waterways, she said.

“I think a lot more about what I am doing and I have changed some of my practices to make sure the water that is coming off my property is clean.”

She thought everyone should look at how their activities were affecting waterways, Gallagher said.

“Each of us can make a difference.”