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Earth Whisperers Papatuanuku

A Review on the recent feature documentary film by director Kathleen Gallagher


The Gallagher family has produced a beautiful 73 minute cinematic nature documentary through the New Zealand landscape. Journeying through the Ureweras, East Cape, Fiordland, Westland, North Otago, Canterbury and Rotorua, Whisperers explores specialist themes through the perspectives of ten New Zealanders all in some way connected to the land. The documentary treads a trail from herbalists and healers to botanists and a Maori food chef.

All of the people featured are kind souls, at peace with themselves and nature - the kinds of people you’d love as neighbours. Deep knowledge and passion for and about the land and its plants present mainstream viewers with worthy lifestyle challenges.

Whisperers is beautifully filmed and skilfully told. It flows effortlessly between the ten vignettes and is united as a whole. Jim O’Gorman’s perspective is a strong voice for the central theme that ‘a shift in consciousness can heal our environment’ with his mix of more practical earth ecology and composting. I did not buy the ethereal New Agey philosophies interwoven throughout the film. The blend of primitive animism and Christianity, ‘goddesses of love and harmony’, ‘energies of the earth and the ancestors’, prayer meetings under trees, and worship of Tane Mahuta is balanced against the more mainstream ‘natural quiet’ appreciation of Westland forest by Craig Potton and Alan Mark’s Manapouri activism and scientific botany.

A small objection to the use of an instrument in the main audio underlay that distracts as an audio distortion throughout, but overall this is a beautiful and engaging watch well worth a look if you take the ethereal religiosity with a grain of organic salt.

Darling Buds of May meets Green Party conference.


Reviewed and written by John Stringer


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