Memorial film in UN finals

By Kiri Gillespie


A Papamoa videographer has made it to the finals of an international film festival.

Aaron Smart filmed Otanewainuku Kiwi Trust volunteer Jim Pendergrast as part of his entry into the United Nations Film Festival.

Mr Pendergrast, 86, spends most days tidying the Department of Conservation reserve, keeping an eye on cars, greeting forest users and providing toilet paper for the facilities there.

"I heard about Jim and I heard about the competition and had about two weeks to do it, so I went to interview him," Mr Smart said.

Initially he sought to capture someone's connection with the forest.

However, when Mr Smart met Mr Pendergrast and began filming, he learned of the pensioner's poignant link to Otanewainuku.

Mr Pendergrast's wife died three years ago and he was planting out a conservation park with a native-bird corridor in the forest in her memory.

"I found out that he was actually starting to turn a piece of land where he plants natives as a memorial for his wife. "It's quite sweet," Mr Smart said.

He was named a finalist in the International Short Film contest.

Mr Pendergrast's story will be shown at the United Nation's Forum for Forests at its annual meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, on April 10.

Mr Smart said he was proud to have been able to share Mr Pendergrast's tale.

"He's a cool guy. For someone at that age, he's up there every weekend at the picnic area and monitoring the cars, keeping an eye on the cars."

Mr Pendergrast could not be reached for comment.

However, on the film he said his wife used to love the forest and enjoyed tramping.

"If my wife was here, she'd do the same.

"There's no doubt about that," Mr Pendergrast said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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