Celebrated New Zealand film maker Gaylene Preston says she is "watering her roots" in supporting EIT's Screen Production programme.
Preston, who grew up in Napier and whose films range across fiction and documentary genres, said she was delighted to have accepted the role of Screen Production patron. Her links with the programme include opening the facility on the Hawke's Bay campus in 2005.
The Wellington-based writer, producer and director also confirmed she would attend EIT's IS Showcase Film Screening which will debut films produced by final-year Diploma of Screen Production students.
Fourteen short films will screen at Napier's Reading Cinema at the invitation-only premiere next Monday, and the finale of the event will be a prize-giving at which Preston presents awards.
A new award, the CV Scholarship will be presented to the writer/director of the Best EIT Student film. The scholarship will enable the winner to attend the 2013 Unishorts Film Festival in Auckland.
Preston will also present the "Pania" - the gold standard for students completing the two-year diploma. The highly coveted gilded statuette, inspired by the US movie industry's Oscar trophy and the iconic Te Pania statue in Napier's Marine Parade Gardens, plus a prize donated by Dobsons Photo and Camera, are awarded to the top student.
Ms Preston couldn't be a more appropriate choice to make the presentation, having clambered up to sit on the original statue as a child in Napier.
Moving to Hawke's Bay with her family in 1957, her 10-year-old recollection is of a city painted in "groovy colours like ming blue and shocking pink".
"Napier was rock 'n' roll," she said. "The world sparkles here that much more clearly."
Her best-known titles include Bread And Roses (1993), War Stories Our Mothers Never told Us (1995), Home by Christmas (2010) and Earthquake - Life on the Edge - the Survivors' Stories (1998) a film about the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake which she produced and directed for the Hawke's Bay Cultural Trust.
She said the city's vibrant cultural life in which she had enjoyed growing up owed much to the quake's survivors.
"The community, Maori and Pakeha, had come together in a particular way and there was a long aftermath of that event. In 1957, the lucky recipients were us kids. The Sound Shell was going every minute of the day during the holidays."
Preston said she believed EIT's Screen Production programme contributed to Hawke's Bay's ongoing creative spirit.
"I feel it's of value for film careers to have such training well-established in regional areas," Preston said. "People who have trained in the arts know how to work collaboratively and have a good idea of the history of this country.
"They are cluey."