Compassion in action at Hiruharama

Imaginative lad "DJ" (12) is one of the residents of Jerusalem/Hiruharama featured in the new...
Imaginative lad "DJ" (12) is one of the residents of Jerusalem/Hiruharama featured in the new documentary How Far is Heaven, introduced by its Auckland film-makers in Arrowtown on November 1. Photo supplied.
The directors of an acclaimed documentary of cross-cultural "compassion in action" will host a question and answer session with the audience after a screening in Arrowtown next Thursday.

Auckland film-makers Miriam Smith, a former Mount Aspiring College pupil, and Christopher Pryor present How Far is Heaven in Dorothy Brown's Cinema as part of a 14-date national tour following sold-out screenings during the New Zealand International Film Festival.

The pair from Deer Heart Films lived and filmed in Hiruharama, the Maori transliteration of Jerusalem, far up the Whanganui River, in 2010 and 2011.

Ngati Hau lived in the remote village, known as poet James K. Baxter's commune in the 1970s, for generations.

The Sisters of Compassion is the only Catholic order founded in New Zealand and lived there for 120 years, but only three nuns remain today.

The film follows Sr Margaret Mary, the newest sister to Jerusalem, who is a regular volunteer at the village school.

Mr Smith said the documentary reveals a complex world of powerful dualities - Maori and Christian spirituality, parties and prayers, pig hunting and perfume appreciation.

The screening is "the chance to see a world not readily accessible.

This compassion in action is quite inspiring and a great example of two cultures getting on harmoniously by willing to learn from each other," Mr Smith said.

How Far is Heaven (M) is screened in Dorothy Brown's Cinema, Arrowtown, Thursday, November 1, 6pm. Admission $18.50, seniors/students $12.50 and children $8.


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