Ata Whenua Shadow Land a cinematic experience of Fiordland

A review of Fiordland on Film by Alistair Childs, founder of


Ata Whenua Shadow Land a cinematic experience of Fiordland



By Alistair Child

When I heard that Kim Hollows had made a film about Fiordland I wasn’t surprised. I also wasn’t all that surprised when I heard that Kim was building a cinema in Te Anau to view this film. I was however surprised when I heard the cinema was being built to show one film, a film that didn’t even have words, well, I thought ‘well’.
Kim and I (and many others) go back a long way.  Kim was a helicopter pilot; I was a fisherman and diver. I worked out of Milford Sound and Kim based himself out of Te Anau and Milford Sound depending where they were working. This was in the venison recovery and the Cray Fishing  days. Things were a little loose in those days and working in sometimes adverse conditions we all had had our moments.  Kim probably more than me but it built an understanding between us all and made for a lot of camaraderie within these groups of people. They were good days and a lot of fun was to be had. If the weather was not going to be all that great next day there was the pub, A few beers followed by a couple of rum and cokes  would be the norm.  Work hard play, hard was the order of the day.

Over this time Fiordland got under my skin and at a guess it got into Kim’s also. Those in the venison industry would fly all over Fiordland and in their search for the wild deer (a pest in N.Z.) and with the live capture of these animals fetching a high dollar a lot of money changed hands.
For my part I had fished and dived in pretty much all of the seventeen fiords. (The number depends on what you classify as a fiord).   Kim and many other pilots were flying all over Fiordland and of course seeing it in a very different way.   Fishing, hunting and tourism   had become a serious business and those who stayed on created some serious attachments to this amazing place.  We didn’t talk about it much then but it was there.

When I stopped working full time in Fiordland I found I wanted to do something, and this free to use website was what I do and love doing. But it pales into insignificant compared to Kim’s effort in the making of this film.
When I first saw this film I realised why it had no words, it simply does not need them. You can make your own words. But the real thing that got me was, although as I said earlier that I had flown over, fished in and dived in most of the fiords, none of that prepared me for this movie Shadowland.
I left the cinema that night (with my CD) somewhat muted and overwhelmed. This movie is what Fiordland is about. A must see.  
Note: If you are staying in Te Anau you will have plenty of opportunities to catch a half hour session.  If you are passing through there are times it shows to suit even those limited periods. And if all else fails,  and you don’t get time to see it you can buy the CD on line.
What is Atu Whenua. The Maori called it Atu (mystical, Shadows) Whenua (Land) The Shadow Land.


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