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Tucked Away in Remote New Zealand, a Local Fisherman Makes a Living

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There are a couple ways to get to Warrick Mitchell’s secluded home in northern Fiordland, located in the southwest corner of New Zealand’s South Island. Surrounded by mountains, hiking in takes three or four days. The next best option is flying in on a small helicopter, an experience that promises views of mountain peaks, glaciers, and ocean landscapes but is not for the faint of heart.

Filmmaker Ben Weiland, who was intent on capturing what it’s like for Mitchell to live so remotely, opted for the second option. He hitched a ride with pilot Roger Monk, who has been delivering supplies to Mitchell—and his family before him—for the past 35 years. “I wanted to show how simple daily tasks can be such a crazy undertaking,” Weiland says. “But it’s also traversing some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet.” 

Weiland’s film, Still As It Was, presents an intimate picture of Mitchell’s life. When Mitchell grew up, his family’s main source of income came from hunting. But they also picked up fishing for whitebait, an important industry in New Zealand, on the side. Today that’s become a way of life for Mitchell. “The thrill of whitebaiting is never knowing what you’re gonna catch and living hand in hand with the surrounding conditions and the environment,” he says. 

While Weiland learned about Mitchell’s story when he was studying abroad in New Zealand as a college student, he says his film research typically includes hours of googling in pursuit of unique, remote places that he should cover. “It feels like we’re in a time and age where everything’s been done and every place has been explored and documented,” he says. “But the more I do this, the more I realize that’s not the case at all.”

Still As It Was was produced by Fielder Studios, the production company Weiland founded with Brian Davis.

New Zealand