Claire Clements

Rationale – Academic and Creative Component for Masters in Science Communication (Natural History Film Making).

In 2010 Claire moved to New Zealand from Australia to learn how to tell stories through film. She comes from a background in conservation, sustainability and environmental tourism. She strongly believes in the power of inspiration in promoting conservation of the natural world.

By choosing to make a film about the endangered hutton’s shearwater she hopes to highlight the amazing story of a little known New Zealand seabird. A quirky bird that breeds in a burrow, flies off to Australia every year, can travel faster than a cheater and has been known to crash land in spectacular style.

Breeding high in the Kaikora Mountains on the South Island, the hutton’s shearwater was thought to be extinct in the early 20th century. This all changed in 1964 when an intrepid mountain climber discovered 8 breeding colonies.

Due to predators, farming and unknown ocean factors, the bird now exists with just two breeding colonies and is classified endangered by IUCN.

It is now a race against time to ensure the future of the hutton’s shearwater. Claire’s film will follow the latest research and efforts by DOC and the Hutton’s Shearwater Charitable Trust to save the bird.

However this is not just a film about a bird, it is a film about a man; a man who upon rediscovering the bird in 1964 decided to dedicate his life to its conservation.  Today aged 83 he still passionately promotes the hutton’s shearwater.

Claire has always been inspired by individuals’ who have dedicated their lives to saving and working with a species. She will be writing a thesis investigating the link between individual species conservation and a figurehead.

On a local level she will be analysing some of New Zealand’s conservationists including the hutton’s shearwaters’ own campaigner. On a broader level she will examine examples from around the globe including well known species campaigners Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey.

Her thesis will analysis the effectiveness of a single persons’ campaign in individual species conservation. She will investigate what makes these people fail or succeed in their crusade. She will look at factors including media portrayal, socio-economic aspects, conservation strategies, fundraising, community involvement and individual species attributes.

Claire hopes that through her film and her thesis she will inspire the conservation of the natural world and that she will also unravel the secrets of inspiration.

Claire and Sean made a film exploring what is known of the mysterious migration of the Hutton’s Shearwater – knowledge essential for the protection of this little known seabird.

A Shear Mystery

New Zealand’s highest nesting seabird is faster than a cheetah, breeds in a burrow and every year leaves New Zealand and flies away for the winter.

The bird is only found in New Zealand and has just 2 breeding colonies high in the Seaward Kaikoura Ranges. The hutton’s shearwater is classified as endangered and the race is on to protect these last 2 vital breeding colonies. But to do this properly, conservation workers and the Hutton’s Shearwater Charitable Trust must find out where these birds go every year…

This film follows this story and uncovers one of New Zealand’s greatest migration mysteries…

where do they go?