My film has entered a new season as well. I have slowly removed myself from the quagmire of pre-production and incessant phone calls and transitioned to full-time filming and editing. It has been a welcome change and one that keeps me constantly invigorated, albeit slightly sleep-deprived. Most days find me shooting interviews or canvassing the landscape and small townships with my camera in tow. My first stop after I left you in Nelson as of my last post, was Wellington where I met Dr. Phil Heath of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. My arrival to Wellington was predicated by a long but stunning ferry ride through the magnificent Marlborough Sounds and across the wild and windy Cook Straight. A clean city of 200,000, its white walled houses are tucked into the green hills of the North Island. I must say of all the cities I have every visited, it ranks as one of my favorites both in beauty and personality.
(Above are a few photos of yours truly)
My trip to the aquaculture research facility in Mahanga Bay, Wellington, was stimulating and eye-opening. Dr. Phil and his counterparts were actively growing and researching the Paua, a large shellfish native to New Zealand waters. Their research provided the Paua industry with better methods for creating economically and environmentally sustainable Paua farms. Before interviewing, Phil showed me around the facility, noting the many breeding pools and cages full of young and mature Paua shells (some as tiny as pin heads and others as large as my palm). Most interesting was how they had engineered a way to grow Paua with white bottoms and without losing the blue character of their shells via a combination of clean tanks and certain vegetable based foods. The best part was watching Phil pluck a mature Paua from the tank and hold the creature on his hand until two tentacles peered out from under the shell.
After my tour around the facility, Phil graciously answered my questions regarding the sustainability of aquaculture. He made enlightening comparisons between terrestrial and water based farming arguing that while our culture will accept thousands of hectares of cow farms, a few Paua or Salmon farms will stir the general public into a frenzy. He furthered his argument by talking about the difference between the conception of public and private space and how in essence, we as a society view the oceans as public space . . . thus explaining our misunderstanding of aquaculture. It was an interesting discussion and one that I hope you enjoy in full when the film is finished next year.
I could have spent much more time in Wellington but business beckoned me back to Nelson and after a quick meeting with The Seafood Industry Council where I briefly interviewed for their magazine about my project, I took an incredibly bumpy and rainy five hour ferry ride back to the South Island. There I met with Chris Choat of Aquaculture New Zealand who put together an interview will the local paper, the Nelson Mail, as well as two shoots with King Salmon and Marlborough Mussels (aquaculture operations based out of Marlborough). Needless to say I worked straight out for a few days, riding out on boats to the farms, filming tons of salmon and mussels being harvested, and interviewing many people. Now that I've finally gotten a chance to sit down, take a deep breathe, and reflect back on the last few weeks, I couldn't be happier with the progress I've made. The friendly and accommodating people I've met, places I've been, and action I've documented have made October a month to remember.