Kāpiti Coast flings doors open to Poppy

Poppy director and Kāpiti local Linda Niccols talks about filming her latest feature film project, with the community keen to open its doors to the production team

shot from the film Poppy with Libby

Poppy is the third production from New Zealand writer/director Linda Niccols set in Kāpiti. Linda moved back to the area in 1999 and says living there has inspired many of the stories she’s brought to life.

Poppy is a film about a young woman with Down Syndrome, who refuses to be defined by her disability and decides to take control of her life. Most of the film was shot on the stunning Kāpiti Coast, located less than an hour’s drive from Wellington city.

The film showcases incredibly diverse locations, from the local pub and tenpin bowling alley, to the natural wonder of Kāpiti Island, much of which would not have been possible without the enthusiasm and backing from local business owners and the Kāpiti Coast District Council.

Locals ready to help out

"We just got so much support from the community, from the council and from Screen Wellington."

Writing to location meant Linda could involve many small businesses that make up the heart of the Kāpiti Coast. Poppy features Southward Car Museum, Life Pharmacy, Umu Bar, Marine Parade Deli and the same garage used in Secondhand Wedding.

Businesses were happy to open their doors, and offer up locations, and the Kāpiti Coast District Council alongside Screen Wellington made it easy to scout and get permits for all types of locations around the area.

Actor Libby Hunsdale and director Linda Nicol from Poppy

“All the businesses are there and everyone’s willing to help and that’s not just from the actual locations, it’s the actual people in the area because you get to know people out here. They all know you they know what you’re doing so they will help.”

The community buy-in and help with the project also helped Poppy become the first feature film in the world to get back to production after the initial Covid-19 lockdowns worldwide.

Linda says it was heartening, and testament to a dedicated production team, helpful locals, and New Zealand’s film-friendly approach.

From industrial to idyllic

"It’s a land of contrasts here so, you’ve got a choice of the kind of story you want to tell." 

Linda says living in Kapiti made her want to set her stories there. The film features some incredible natural locations like Raumati Beach, but that’s not all the area has to offer.

"Everything from industrial to idyllic you’ll find in Kāpiti as a location. You can be at the beach and then five minutes later you can be in an industrial area and five minutes after that you can be in a ten-pin bowling alley.”  

And when they weren’t filming, many of the crew were discovering the region for themselves eventually filming their own stories on the things they never knew they could find in Kāpiti, she says.

It’s a land of contrasts here so, you’ve got a choice of the kind of story you want to tell

Linda Niccols

Cast of Poppy

The right crew and talent

You can find almost all the things you need for a film production in Kāpiti, including a range of technical experts and talent, Linda says. 

Veteran, highly-skilled production crew live and work in the area and love being able to be home before the sun sets.

There are also music studios, a good pool of talent to draw from as far as extras and supporting actors goes, and a range of businesses to work with to get the job done.

“It’s got pretty much everything but in a more confined space, so the ‘time is money thing’ does contribute to a less stressful production,” she says.

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