Big screen treatment for sustainable road trip

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Nelson film-maker Emma Heke with son Connor with the van they took on their six-month road trip.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Nelson film-maker Emma Heke with son Connor with the van they took on their six-month road trip.

South Canterbury stories will hit the big screen when full-length documentary Our Green Roadie is shown at Timaru's Movie Max later this month.

In 2011, Nelson woman Emma Heke came to South Canterbury with her seven-year-old son Connor and her camera to shoot footage of families living a sustainable lifestyle.

"The people in South Canterbury were just so welcoming. They opened their hearts and homes and we've made friends for life," Emma said.

She says Geraldine was one of her favourite places on the nationwide road trip.

"We absolutely loved South Canterbury. Geraldine was one of our favourite places. We stayed at Waihi Bush farm and it was just beautiful."

Although the flax oil producing Musgraves at Waihi Bush didn't make the final cut for the film, Emma hopes they will be included in the 10 30-minute episodes for prime time television that are currently being edited.

"We visited 70 people but had to cut it down to 50 for the film," Emma said.

In South Canterbury, Connor's hands-on education included milking a goat and helping with the milk at Bryan and Jackie Clearwater's Peel Forest dairy farm.

At Geraldine they met Sven and Sarah Johnson to film a straw-bale house workshop, filmed at the The Tin Kitchen in Geraldine. They also met with the Helliwell family of Organic Futures in Waimate.

"There were plenty of people in your area who are eco-conscious. It was a little hive of activity," Emma said.

On their way south to the next stop in Oamaru, Emma shot more footage of Nathan Davis and his wife Steph living sustainably on their organic orchard at St Andrews.

Demand to see Heke's new feature length documentary has proven so popular, a special screening in Nelson had to be held to cope with demand.

"All screenings so far have been to a full house and other screenings are under way throughout the country," said Emma.

Ms Heke has previously won a Ministry of Environment Green Ribbon Award for a children's DVD on New Zealand nature called Ours - what we've got and ways to look after it.

For Our Green Roadie, she rented out her house for the year, sold her car, and bought a van for the trip and to home school Connor.

Ms Heke is a former high school teacher with a fine arts degree. She got into film and creating DVDs for children after realising the low quality on offer and saw a gap in the market.

"People aged six to 93 have seen this film and all of them took something from it," she said.

The last thing Emma wanted to do was to produce a "doom and gloom" film about the state of the environment.

"The film doesn't tell anyone to do anything. It just shows incredible, ordinary people who are passionate about what they do in an eco-conscious way. I want people to leave feeling happy and motivated,"

Find additional information at

There are only 48 seats in the theatre so be in quickly and contact Janya Lobb 021325040 to reserve a seat or email her

The cost is $10 and it will be screened on Monday July 22 at 7.30pm.


South Canterbury