Sirocco focus of student's documentary

University of Otago student Ash Kapur makes the final edit of her natural science film about Sirocco the kakapo. Photo by Linda Robertson.
University of Otago student Ash Kapur makes the final edit of her natural science film about Sirocco the kakapo. Photo by Linda Robertson.
It is a rags to riches tale with a twist.

Sirocco, New Zealand's first and only kakapo recovery programme ambassador, is the focus of a natural history documentary by Dunedin student Ash Kapur titled Sirocco: how a dud became a stud.

''It is a rags-to-riches story about how a kakapo shot to stardom. It traces his life from when he was born to when he was declared an ambassador for conservation, and what he does now and will continue to do in the future,'' Ms Kapur said.

The 26-year-old film student, from Kolkata (Calcutta), India, became intrigued by the tale of Sirocco when she moved to New Zealand to study for the University of Otago's postgraduate diploma in natural history film-making and communication.

The year-long programme was developed in partnership with NHNZ and attracted Ms Kapur, who had been filming natural history and wildlife in a ''semi-professional'' capacity since 2010.

''This is a very unique programme in the world. Very few places offer this degree and so I found myself in Dunedin,'' she said.

Ms Kapur was scouting for ideas for a 15-minute graduate documentary when Sirocco visited Dunedin to stay at the Orokonui Ecosanctuary in early September.

She filmed him at Orokonui then accompanied the 16-year-old bird to Nelson, where she filmed his short visit to the city and encounter with Conservation Minister Nick Smith.

She then followed Sirocco to Maud Island, in the Marlborough Sounds, where she captured footage of him in the wild.

Ms Kapur said the most challenging and rewarding aspect of the project was making an entertaining film which not only told the story of Sirocco, but highlighted conservation and natural history in general.

''He is the lead character, the lead actor, and he gave a star performance. My biggest aim was to be able to entertain, and that was the most challenging part, but also the most exciting.''

The film will first be screened at 1.30pm on Tuesday at the Centre for Science Communication annexe. Members of the public are welcome.

Ms Kapur said she would also show the documentary in India, where there was amused interest in a film about ''the only bird in the world with a government job''.