Raylene Beals is a Wellington-based filmmaker, with over 17 years of experience in TV, feature film and web video. Originally from the West Coast, she cut her teeth on fast turnaround lifestyle programming and documentary. She now enjoys working with individuals, artists, and community groups to produce dynamic short-form films. Recently she has worked with the Gibson Group, Rangiwahia Environmental Arts Centre, String Bean Puppets, and Wellington Free Ambulance. With an affinity for storytelling, Raylene is passionate about showcasing great New Zealand stories. Always striving to think outside the square, in order to find innovative and engaging ways of engaging a wider audience.
Paparoa’s secretive karst mountains rise steeply from the sea. Cloaked in the molasses-like in mosses and native bush. Between their foothills, a paper road called Madman's Creek weaves its way inland from the main highway to the Awakari Valley where local legend Johnny Currie lives. He first came to the valley in 1948, as a 7-year-old with a mate and a pocket knife hunting goats.
Fast forward 71 years and Johnny is still there, surrounded by the wild deer that he has provided sanctuary for. “Away from those bleeding poachers.” Now, it's the roaring season, You can hear the stags bellowing, as Johnny boils his billy over the open fire. We hear his account of life in the Awakari Valley. From the ‘old’ days when Charleston gold ruled the lives of his ancestors, to recent times when tree-hugging hippies perched in trees to save the native bush flanking his land from ‘the Charleston Chainsaw Massacre’. Now all the loggers, politicians, and hippies are all gone. And even the poachers know better than to trespass.
But still, even now with its exquisite beauty and wealth of natural resources, the Paparoa’s are troubled. A battleground in which a quiet, ongoing war between conservation and commercial development simmers. A war in which Johnny has long been a footsoldier. After years of being caught in the crossfire, he now looks for closure. And along the way imparts his knowledge of bush lore and the true joy of not just living unfettered off the land, but honoring our environment for future generations.
The Big Girls workshops provide a space for women from all cultures to come together in UNESCO-funded workshops, facilitated by Rangiwahia Environmental Center (REACT) to make giant puppet representatives (Big Girls) of their cultures in a participant-led process,
to share, laugh, learn and create.
Since the Second World War New Zealand has resettled over 33,000 refugees. The New Zealand Refugee quota has recently been raised from 750 to 1000 refugees each year. But is this enough? And for the lucky few who are resettled in New Zealand, how are they welcomed into our communities? And how are we celebrating our diversity of cultures that our migrant and refugee communities in New Zealand offer us?
The story that this film aims to tell is how the creation of a community spectacle can serve to empower women from minority communities while celebrating their diverse cultures on our streets.