The Portraits

These are stills from the first of what we hope will be many, many portraits to come. Initially, Aotearoa Moving Portraits is capturing stories in the Wairarapa. We will then be taking Aotearoa Moving Portraits on the road to find the hidden gems in the rest of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Frances Reiri-Smith (March 1944)

Tells stories of her Nana and Popo, her mother and father’s courtship, her own story of almost being married to someone against her will, and some local legends.

Frances is a local Hurunui-o-Rangi marae resident.  She’s very active in the Wairarapa region, sits as an active member of the Māori Women’s Welfare League (her mum was a member at its inception in the 1950s), she advises Carterton District Council on all cultural aspects and sits at council meetings as iwi representative, she teaches a weekly te reo class at the marae (has for years) and is a well respected local kuia.

Helen Elizabeth Dew (November 1937)

Tells the stories of her struggle with mental illness as a young mother. She is a born gardener and tells us of her affinity with gardening and plants.

Helen is a local hero.  She is always being put forward for community recognition awards. She won the first Supreme Award, the Charles Rooking Carter Award, has battled depression, lives her life to make sure others are more environmentally aware and belongs to Local Currency, Timebank, Green Dollar, Savings Pools, Carterton Farmer’s Market and Living Economies.  All environmentally and economically focused initiatives.

Patrick Mowbray McLean (July 1945)

Tells us of his early life in the Wairarapa which led to his involvement in conservation.

Pat is the Convenor and Coordinator of Friends of Uhi Manuka (Carter’s Reserve) and Friends of Fensham Reserve and Forest & Bird Society.  6 years ago, Pat wanted to clean up local reserves and walkways so approached the Department of Conservation to see what support they needed.  He started weekly volunteering and cleaning up waterways, removing exotic (invasive) plantings and devising pathways to make walking tracks safer and more accessible. Over time others have joined him (5 regular attendees) and they still do weekly clean-up sessions (officially 3 every week, often more) and local bush areas have started regenerating and attracting birds and wildlife again. Most recently, Pat tried to secure the purchase of neighbouring local bushland (to his own property in the Waiohine Valley) so it could be put into a QE11 Trust with the intention of turning it into a Wairarapa version of Zealandia. He had saved a sizeable deposit, was willing to contribute his own land towards it asking only to carve off 1 acre to see out his days.  Sadly funds couldn’t be raised and the land was sold to another party.

Rawiri Smith (March 1962)

Ra tells us the stories and legends of the Wairarapa and its waterways. The legends of Tutewake and the stories of his Popo and their Whakapapa.

Ra is a well-respected cultural advisor and storyteller, a member of Hurunui-o-Rangi marae (Kahungunu ki Wairarapa iwi). By day he is Environmental Advisor for Kahungunu ki Wairarapa. Ra is the holder of all local stories and at regular intervals, he will deliver local storytelling to busloads of interested parties.  Ra gifted Ka Pai Carterton a local story to support the redesign of Carrington Park, the new design has been woven through the story of the park as part of the identity of Carterton. Ra is always looking to pass the local stories onto people so they can live beyond him.

Mike Johns (March 1940)

Tells us the story of his introduction to activism during the Raglan Golf Course protest.

Marlene Ditchfield (1956)

Tells us the story of the famous tree planted by her ancestors in Carterton.

A trained journalist, Marlene has spent four decades working in broadcasting and print media, local government communication, central government managing electorate offices for members of parliament and as a freelance writer and photographer.

She recently self-published a book on her family who were some of the original settlers in Carterton and the Wairarapa.

Brian Shennan (1946 – 6 August 2022)

Tells us the stories of some of the escapades he had while working on documentaries and films around the world and in Aotearoa.

Brian was in the Film and TV business for many years as a sound mixer for location and studio. He worked on over 200 films and documentaries and set up the Dolby Stereo mixing facility at the National Film Unit in 1984, which later went on to become part of Park Road Post.

Sadly, Brian passed away on 6 August 2022.

Davey Hughes (August 1959)

Tells us the stories of arriving in the Wairarapa and his philosophy for life.

Founder of Swazi outdoor clothing.

He’s hunted Caribou in the Arctic Circle, grizzlies in Alaska and buffalo in Tanzania. Been the bane of New Zealand Customs officials’ lives, and has run the grueling Coast to Coast adventure race 3 times, you could definitely say Davey lives life to the full, but what underpins all of this is his absolute love of the great outdoors. Whether that’s here in New Zealand or the among far-flung fiords of Svalbard… that’s where you’ll likely find Davey Hughes.

Ron Stanley Mark (January 1954)

Tells us the stories of one life-changing event of his youth and his re-connection to the Wairarapa.

Ron is a New Zealand politician of the New Zealand First Party, and a former soldier, who served as New Zealand’s Minister of Defence between October 2017 and November 2020. He served as mayor of Carterton from 2010 to 2014, and again from 2022.

Fa’amatuainu Wayne Poutoa (September 1963)

Tells the story of his troubled youth and how it led him to where he is now.

Wayne Poutoa knows the difficulties young people face all too well. He joined a gang at age 16 and was in and out of prison until he discovered education, which was the key to moving beyond that life.

Wayne said the gangs will always be there and they try to offer options to the young people who walk through their doors.

He founded The Village Youth Project in Carterton to assist at-risk young people.