10 Favourite Things: African journey

Born in Zimbabwe, Robyn Paterson surrounds herself with treasures from her homeland and her adopted country.

Filmmaker Robyn Paterson is celebrating the release of her documentary 'Finding Mercy'. Photo / Babiche Martens

Robyn Paterson's journey home to Zimbabwe is presented in the gripping documentary Finding Mercy, following the film-maker's high-risk search for her childhood friend and an undercover tour through Mugabe's Zimbabwe.

The film screened on TV One last year, but a longer, festival cut of the documentary will screen at the Documentary Edge Festival, a 10-day celebration of documentaries from around the world opening in Auckland on April 11.

The talented Paterson, who has extensive experience in film and television having produced, directed, presented and written, is also an author: she wrote the booksTips from your Nana: Waste not, Want not! and Tips from your Grandad. She talks us through a few of her favourite things.


1. School suitcase

From my early schooldays in Zimbabwe. Every school child had an identical one of these and had to take it to the local haberdashery store to get their name officially printed on it. It was an exciting part of starting school.

2. Ring

By Dunedin designer Ann Culy. I love this ring - it's a great mix of elegant and fun. My partner, Paula, gave it to me on our first Christmas together in 1997. Hopefully soon we'll be able to legally marry (hint to politicians). Until then though I kind of see this as my wedding ring.

3. Vintage camera

Paula found this semi-buried under our old house in Dunedin. She dug it out and cleaned it. I love the smell of the leather case, and the simple mechanics of an older-style film camera. It still works beautifully.

4. West Auckland

When we moved here from Wellington 18 months ago, we picked Titirangi to live and I'm so glad we did. We've embraced the west with its beautiful beaches, arty types, occasional squeal of boy-racer tyres ... Hippie with a touch of edgy. West is best.

5. Wicker doll's pram

This has been with me since I was a toddler - it has moved across the world and through several cities. It's amazingly strong. As a kid I used to stuff my little brother into it and push him around the house. These days my daughter plays with it, and the cat sneaks in for a sleep now and then.

6. Picture from Mercy

This can be seen in the film - it's the picture Mercy drew for me on the day we left Zimbabwe. I've always kept it.

7. Sound of Music cushion

This was given to me by my flatmates when I lived in Brighton, UK, during an O.E. year. The Sound of Music triggered my love affair with film at the age of 6. I still know pretty much all the words. Ask the flatmates.

8. Kathryn Madill Alice painting

It's intricate and delicate, yet there's a dark side to it too. Madill's work really draws you in to her imaginative world; you can live with it for years and still find something different whenever you look at it.

9. 1969 Mobel lounger

Our house was a 1960s build, as many Titirangi houses are. Paula got a bit addicted to looking for second-hand mid-century furniture on Trade Me when we first moved. I had to stop her when our lounge started looking like a chair museum. But she did find some lovely pieces - this one is my favourite.

10. KidsCan

Being from Zimbabwe, I often have people ask me things like "what is it like seeing children suffering from poverty?" If they looked outside, they would see for themselves. In New Zealand we have a significant poverty problem right under our noses. KidsCan know it and are doing something about it. If you've got any cash to spare, put it there.

• Finding Mercy, April 13 and 16, Q Theatre. Tickets from Q Theatre, ph (09) 309 9771 or visit qtheatre.co.nz.

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