Today she is a celebrated filmmaker, producer and director covering the canvas of earth, water, and sky and the growing people’s reverence of Aotearoa and our great sustainer Mother Earth - Papatuanuku.
Born in Ōtautahi, Christchurch, whilst studying at Canterbury
University she did the ‘poet rounds’ of local pubs with people such as Kerri Hume and other home grown celebrities.
Then when visiting a playwright’s workshop in Australia she realised that only 1% of the world’s playwrights - were women this then inspired her to fire
up and write. She then had a play produced on stage in Australia and in Christchurch help set up the Woman’s Action Theatre.
Then for 8 years produced one play per year, ‘Mother Tongue’ being one of them and with the NZ Listener giving it an amazing review it ended up touring
the country. Being based on the first stages of a woman’s life. Featuring chant, song, dance and scenes through different aspects of a growing woman
– like Offspring – the first 6 months of the 1st baby – and then another of an older woman who was a successful gold miner in the West Coast - Buller
That Christchurch Ōtautahi is where Kate Sheppard, who initiated the vote for women lived and was buried there. Kate also tells of her unique connection
to the 1st vote by women in 1893.
Then to working in Free Theater and Court Theater and then onto radio drama which she loves. One of these was called Charlie Bloom, about
blowback from a French nuclear test in Polynesia which went from East to West covering Samoa and affecting the the Samoan inhabitants 3,610 km from
French Polynesia and Mururoa. This bomb test was on the 12 September 1966. As a consequence of this test, called Betelgeuse, (named after the 9th brightest
star in the night sky) in which a 120 kiloton bomb hanging under a balloon was exploded at a height of 600 metres in difficult wind conditions.
Not long after this Kathleen was living for a while in Hakano
St, Grey Lynn in Auckland and there were many Samoans living in that street and there was a disproportionate number suffering from strange cancers
and odd diseases then she found a book by Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and also the Institute for Energy and Environmental
Research entitled Environmental Effects of French Nuclear Testing. This exposed what was happening, including a map of the rain-out hot spots and rain-out
dry spots all over this part of the Pacific. This was when leukaemia sickness was spiking at one of the worst rates at that time in this region.
Her play was also broadcast in Australia and Kathleen’s parents
were over there for a few days and just looking for a decent radio station to listen to, heard Kathleen’s ‘Charlie Bloom’ being broadcast – just out
of the blue and this is a theme that runs through her life – many magical moments of synchronicity.
Her most recent book is Earthquakes and Butterflies based on the Christchurch Earthquake and was played for a week on National radio here in NZ. Her book
is a delightful, beautifully designed novel and photographic journal following Hone, Kara, Pieter, Hemi, Helena, Kay and Tess as they navigate their
way through the tragedy of the Christchurch earthquakes.
"This is surely one of the finest pieces of writing to come out of the Christchurch earthquakes. Kathleen Gallagher tells, with deep tenderness and compassion, the story and spirit of all that the moving earth laid on the heaving
doorsteps of Christchurch... Jane Hole,"Tui Motu" Nov. 2015.
The documentary Water Whisperers - Tangaroa the film – evidently, it just sort of happened. With no finances or major strategy, when some people came to
her at the last minute and asked her to film a raft journey from Lake Sumner in the Southern Alps to the Pacific ocean, this was enough to pay for
Water Whisperers – plus when it came to support with this production - she says “it just seems to show up!”
This vibrant environmental documentary explores the healing and recovery of polluted and fished out waterways, and the conservation of wild water places
- from mountain lakes, through rivers and out into the ocean. Subtle, sensitive and beautifully photographed - it is a quietly convincing voice amid
the clamour of our fast paced society. People from very different backgrounds stand together - being real about the challenges they face, they show
us there are solutions as well as problems that we have to address. This is an eloquent and utterly convincing call for greater protection and care
of New Zealand’s lakes, rivers, coastlines and oceans.
"This beautifully put together and refreshingly optimistic local doco is one of the most enjoyable films I've seen in months ... Seeing an eco-doco so
informative, entertaining, light of touch and unashamedly Kiwi was a real treat ... Four stars, easy ... a very accomplished and compelling film."
Graeme Tuckett - Dominion Post, Wellington
When filming Sky Whisperers - Ranginui - she tells of a small number of large hawks or kea flying
right in front of her car windscreen blocking her view that she had to stop the vehicle in a middle of a mobile phone drop-out area. Whilst stopped
a very tuned in Maori friend phoned her saying she must come to where he was – as the film had to start from Lake Waikaremoana - stating that “ I am
waiting for you!”. She had not planned on including him in the film and so due to the ‘strangeness’ of the moment, she then detoured to where he was
some hundred plus kilometres away even though they were going to another destination to start the film. So driving through a storm she arrived at Lake
Waikaremoana where he was standing waiting for her and her team, still in the middle of that storm. Where she proceeded to interview him then carry
on back to the original destination.
This fascinating environmental feature, calls us to a closer intimacy with our skies. Celestial navigators, climatologists, a Nobel prize winning scientist,
biodynamic, Maori and radio astronomers, farmers, fishermen and business folk who observe the sky, the air, the stars, the moon and sun cycles. Together
they show how we can establish a way of observing, living and doing business which results in non pollution of our skies.
A fascinating story of effort towards global peace, featuring eight peace people of Aotearoa New Zealand - spanning some seven decades - peace walkers,
petitioners, and folk in small boats and on the surfboards sailing out into the harbours in the face of huge warships. A unique documentary, embedded
in the movement of aihe (dolphins), tohora (whales), kotuku (white herons), toroa (albatross) and with an original score blending contemporary waiata
and traditional Maori musical instruments. This film tells the story of how Aotearoa New Zealand became nuclear free and anti-war. It is an inspiration
for all people, young and old, and for peacemakers everywhere.
The Peace People of NZ go back a long way – to the Chatham Islanders to Te Whiti go Parihaka in Taranaki - who it is recorded influenced Mahatma Gandhi
in his expression of peace.
Jack Rogers and the few who remain alive today … then Mary Woodward – protesting against the bombing of Hiroshima
Hautu Peace People of World War II
“Hautu is the story of two WWII Conscientious Objectors put away in the rugged Hautu detention camp near Tūrangi on the Desert Road south of Taupo and
their supportive womenfolk who were living in Christchurch and on the West Coast” in the South Island.
Katheleen states that peaceful energisers come through in NZ, every decade and this ideal moves around the country as in George Armstrong up here in Auckland
with the Peace flotilla and Bunny McDiarmid and her Greenpeace work. Especially with the Rainbow Warrior moving the people in the Marshall islands
away from the radioactive island that the US atomic testers used and then sailed away from.
The bombing in Auckland Harbour and all the other important Greenpeace issues that are still with us today.
And Nicky Hager NZ’s top independent researcher and Kate Dewes - all have worked for decades, on peace issues, to bring more peace in our world.
Kathleens Home Turf
That Riccarton borough in Christchurch was the first Nuclear Free area in NZ. – That is where Kate Dewes lives and where Kate Sheppard once worked and
lived. Deans bush there too. It’s a place of much change.
Trees in the seven hectare bush include ancient kahikatea, totara, matai and hinau. The bush is now protected by a predator proof fence and is home to
small populations of the Canterbury tree wētā and great-spotted kiwi/ roroa. Before European settlement, Pūtaringamotu was a valuable source of food
and timber for the Māori. From the bush they produced carvings and canoes, and preserved pigeons.
These trees, up to 600 years old, are the descendents of a podocarp forest established over 6,000 years ago. They are the sole Canterbury remnant of kahikatea
floodplain forest and as such have national significance.
Haharanga – Healing Journeys. He Oranga He Oranga
Many of Kathleen’s friends got breast cancer and numbers of them died. She talked to people who had terrible prognosis yet had survived and she found that
it was in the quiet areas of place and the space – that healing took place.
This inspiring feature documentary follows the journeys of eleven cancer survivors through - bone, bowel, breast, ovarian, prostate, brain cancers, Hodgkins
and nonHodgkins lymphoma, and leukaemia - to better health. It begins where the boiling heart of the earth rises up to the surface. It climbs the mountain
peaks, descends the valleys and flows through the bush and on out to sea, exquisitely blending taonga puoro - traditional Maori music, Celtic harp
and flute, and contemporary waiata.
She found that when people shifted to a more conducive environment their health improved immensely.
That it was in the forest the ngahere the ancient forest - the puawai – the blossom of the ancient forest are very healing in so many ways same for the
way – running water swift flowing water helps cleanse - plus mirimiri a rubbing motion this inspired her to do the film Earth Whisperers Papatuanuku.
Earth Whisperers Papatuanuku.
Starring Rita Tupe – Tuhoi healer Craig Potton EYEla burgess herbal, herbalist, Gerry Findlay talks with birds Alan marks the botanist, hugh wislon who
has a thousand hectoer of regenerating forest Jim ogorman organic farmer in Omaru Charles Royal maori chef. Kay Backster Seed Saver Makere Ruka – Waitaha
kuia. This film went all over the world. And going to the huge film festival in Abu Dhabi in the Middle East winning the Audience Award. Then around
the world like wildfire.
Yet to obtain funding is a major task …
Then Water Whisperers Tangaroa
Following the water from Mountains down rivers and out to the ocean – to the Poor Knights marine reserve area. Including Leigh as the oldest marine reserve
in the world.
Raglan Fred Lichtwark and Eva Rikards working on restoring nature in the spirit of kaitiaki went from lowest to highest fish count in NZ shoreline waters.
Riparian planting changed it all around increases of Eels (tuna) whitebait (īnanga) and over marine fish. A great success.
In this film there are lots of models for people to follow
Muscles farms out in the bay in Takaka were being affected by chemical and nutrient runoff from farmed land – So Landcare a Government Department brought
the two groups together and after challenging times have sorted out! A win win!
Actions for today!
Locking away huge areas to stop fish depletion and overfishing – Andy Dennis who died recently in Nelson states that half our bays need to be locked up
all the way to the 200 mile fishing zone. He maintains that this would allow all fish to recuperate to the same numbers of fish, that were here when
Captain Cook arrived.
Yes, there are still vested interests who oppose this concept other than wanting to lock areas away – yet, when fishing sanctuaries a put in place the
long-term results is for everyone benefits.
This interview covers Te Urewera as a park now having human rights and the Whanganui River (awa) being classed as a living entity
This opens up the narrative about Papatuanku the earth mother as a living super organism. That includes our intimacy with Papatuanku as a living being.
That things happen ‘in the moment’ and time can alter and shift, it is not necessarily linear which we usually see from a rational standpoint.
In Earthquakes and Butterflies Kathleen states that time can also expand & contract - especially when major earth moments are happening.
The conversation then enters more non corporeal subject matter and the metaphysical connection to the land of Aotearoa.
She mentions when Leonard Cohen when he last came to NZ fairly recently, said “you live in the is place that is magical – yet you walk around it as if
it is ordinary!”
Connection and intimacy with the land whenua.
Some years ago American First Nation peoples came to NZ to apologise to the salmon that swim and travel up the Rakaia River in the South Island (Te Waipounamu
- The Waters of Greenstone) They wanted to honour the fish, because their rivers are depleted of chinook salmon today. These South Island salmon were
brought from America to NZ in 1867. They then spent 4 days and 4 nights at the top end of the river singing, praying, dancing, talking and listening
to the river.
Plus there other stories of Maori and kaitiakitanga - guardianship, protection, preservation or sheltering. Kaitiakitanga is a way of managing the environment,
based on the traditional and cultural methods.
Listen to this fascinating interview of a creative, inner-directed New Zealander.