Aramoana

I was born in Dunedin, and spent several chunks of my childhood there, so prior to 13 November 1990, Aramoana (or just “The Spit” as it was almost universally known before the protests against the smelter proposal brought it to national attention) was just a place to go for a day at the beach, to fish off the end of the spit or to slide down the giant sandhill at the other end of the beach. The township itself didn’t really impinge on our conciousness – just another collection of baches and the odd permanent home, the same as you’d find clustered around any beach in New Zealand.

That’s what made the shootings at Aramoana all the more horrific – not only was there a mass murder, unheard-of in New Zealand, but it was happening in a place we knew and loved (and to people we indirectly knew – Dad comes from Port Chalmers, so knew many of the families involved, and in fact went to school with Stewart Guthrie, the policeman who was shot trying to arrest Gray). I don’t think I’ve been back to Aramoana since the shootings – for years it felt like it would be wrong to go there and impinge on the grief of the tiny township (or worse, be thought of as sightseers), and even now there seems to be a taboo about the place.

So when I went with the Chick Flicks group last night to see Out of the Blue, I was expecting it to be a bit disturbing. But I knew from reviews that it had been sensitively filmed, so I wasn’t too worried. And I’m not normally affected by film violence, even when I know it’s a true story – film has a wonderful (or awful, depending on how you look at it) distancing effect.

What I didn’t take into account was the recognition factor. Every scene was somewhere I recognised (most of the Aramoana scenes were actually filmed in nearby Long Beach to avoid upsetting the Aramoana residents with reenactments of the massacre, but as several of Dad’s family have baches at Long Beach and we spent many Boxing Days there, that just brought it even closer to home for me), so it wasn’t “just a movie” – it was all very very real, like I was watching it happening live on the TV news. I was feeling quite sick by the time the movie ended.

I can see why many people didn’t want this movie made, which reopens a lot of old wounds. But if there has to be a film about Aramoana, I’m glad it was this one. The very realism that made it so disturbing was also its redeeming feature – its honesty shows great respect to the victims and their families, and to the devastated community. Can you imagine what Hollywood might have done with this story? And the fact that it was disturbing (and filmed in a way that made it even more so – jerky camera angles, strange focus effects, and long pauses where the screen went black and silent) is a good thing, really – a film about a mass murder should disturb you – I wouldn’t want to walk out of a film like this feeling any other way.


Ok, on to more cheerful things like games and chocolate.

MrPloppy and I went round to the Gwilks’ on Monday night, to play Thurn and Taxis, one of the new games they’d bought which we hadn’t had time to play on Saturday night. They’d only been able to play the two-player version, so were desperate to invite someone round to play it properly 🙂

It was a good game, and a fun night, but of course meant I didn’t get any study done (yeah, like I was really going to…), and was a bit late, which made waking up for work yesterday morning a bit tough. And of course with another late night last night at the movies, I’m just about asleep at my desk today.

At least I can take comfort from the fact that I’m not as tired as lytteltonwitch must be – she flew home from Adelaide on Monday night (and didn’t get in to Christchurch until well after midnight because her plane was delayed to take on extra fuel because they were worried about the bad weather in NZ), but still had to go to work yesterday. And came to the movies with us last night!

We met before the movie for dinner in the food court, and she gave me a couple of chocolate Freddos that were my share of the consolation prize we won in the convention’s limerick contest (I got a text on Saturday saying “quick, what’s a limerick about kiwi bookcrossers?”, so between Mum, MrPloppy and I we came up with

There was a Lytteltonwitch,
Who never wore a stitch.
She released some books,
But got funny looks,
Which gave her the bookcrossing itch.

– not exactly high poetry, but ok for 30 seconds’ work, we thought 🙂 I think she got a prize more for having the audacity to “phone a friend” in New Zealand for assistance than for the quality of the limerick); and a gift from servalan, some chocolates from the Haig factory they visited on Thursday.

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2 Comments

  1. That’s a very good review.

    It does sound as though this movie has been well made. I don’t think I’ll see it, though. I’m not very good at "keeping a distance", and knowing this is based on fact would make it harder.

  2. I must have been tired as I slept thro’ my alarm this morning and didn’t get to work until 9.30.I arrived just seconds before a fire drill and unbeknown to me I had been made one of the fire wardens.This was decided last week but no one told me when I got back to work.Normally a new sheet of who the fire wardens are is left on your desk.The staff member Dick really suits his name.

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