Bruce Hopkins [Gamling the Old] is in LA for a few days prior to the Oscars. He wrote in about his involvement with Project Read:

“I decided I wanted to visit a school in LA ( did a similar thing for Air NZ here after the premier, and it went incredibly well).So on Friday 27th at 9.52am ( a specific time stipulated by the principal ! ) i am going to go to Tetzlaff Middle school for and hour to talk and answer questions, sign autographs and hand out gifts from AirNZ. There may be another school when I come back through LA at the end of March, or even on Monday 1st March before I leave to London.

“I don’t know if you have heard of Project Read, but it is a brilliant initiative that came from the LOTR films. I came across it when emailing the NZ consul general in LA Darryl Dunne, here’s what he sent to me about it:

“Our connection with LOTR and schools has been through Project Read, a school literacy program heavily backed by the LA County authorities. Kids aged 10 – 17, many from at risk situations (including probationers) were given donated copies of each book in the trilogy and the deal was if they read the book and wrote an essay on it, they got to see the film free before anyone else courtesy of New Line and AMC Theatres. In the first year, 1,000 kids saw the film, in 2002 it was 4,000 and in December last year 12,000 kids saw the film over three days in a multiplex cinema in LA. While engaging on the book/film side, the organisers found out about the NZ connection and as a result my office got involved together with other NZ interests here. We mounted exhibitions at the screenings. In 2002 Prime Minister Helen Clark met with a group of kids (including probationers) and principals/supervisors involved in Project Read, during a visit to LA. A school party visited NZ courtesy of Air NZ and Newmans in 2003 and met the PM and Peter Jackson. They included a student film maker who covered the whole visit. Arising from that visit we have been trying to establish an ongoing exchange between schools in LA (who are very keen on it and well set up) and New Zealand, but the NZ side has proven problematical.

“We and the LA organisers are aware of the forthcoming production of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe in NZ and keen to promote the literacy and awareness exchanges round the book/film to extend past LOTR – if we can get any interest from NZ!”

That’s from NZ’s Consul General in LA. From me, Tehanu, here in NZ, I’d like to suggest that any New Zealanders involved in the education sector who are reading this might like to consider how NZ schools could get involved.