Last week I responded to Sally’s Phoneography and non-SLR digital photo challenge with some shots of buildings I saw during a road-trip through New Zealand’s North Island. These were commercial buildings, in small towns which are struggling to survive in a climate of decline and restructuring in New Zealand’s traditional rural and heartland industries alongside unbalanced and unchecked growth of our largest city.
I’ve lived most of my life in Auckland and watched as heritage architecture – mainly from the early 20th century – has been demolished to make way for newer, bigger buildings. It is always wonderful then, to travel out of Auckland to towns where this destruction hasn’t taken place.
My trip last week was mainly a visit to my dad, but also to search for somewhere new to live. The Big T and I are over Auckland. We’re sick of living in an over-populated, over-crowded, traffic-congested mega-city where communities are being reshaped and swallowed up by massive new housing estates stamped onto what was once fertile, food-producing land. The boy-child is nearly grown and it’s time for a new phase in our lives. So we’re investigating various small towns and provincial cities for our future home. This search has taken on a moral quality. Without concerted efforts to re-invigorate provincial New Zealand, huge and beautiful swathes of the country are at risk of housing only ghost towns.
So this week I’ve taken a photo of the County Council offices in Raetihi – a town of around 1000 people in the central North Island – and edited it in lots of different ways. My aim – to show how beautiful this (actually quite ordinary) example of early 20th century Kiwi architecture really is. I’m imagining for myself the task of marketing this town using one image. Not a realistic brief perhaps, but one I’ll have fun with.
Perhaps a cartoon version?
Or a watercolour?
Maybe a charcoal sketch?
Or a coloured pencil drawing?
I think it would make a great postage stamp.
I can’t help feeling that unless there is a radical change of direction in our government, the country will remain as fragmented and messed up as this final image.
When I started blogging a couple of years ago, I wasn’t entirely convinced that anyone would ever want to read my musings – let alone engage with them by liking posts, subscribing and commenting.
I’m still slightly amazed – and completely humbled – that I now belong to a wonderful online community of talented, articulate, funny and compassionate people, from all over the world, who offer insightful, witty and often incredibly helpful comments on my posts, and engage in dialogue that I find both enjoyable and sometimes very comforting. You have become a virtual whanau – or family.
In the last week I’ve been nominated five times for a blogging award; three times for Shaking the Tree, and twice for ZimmerBitch. I really can’t quite describe how honoured I feel that five women whose work I admire and am inspired by feel similarly about my blogs. It’s particularly touching as I’ve been feeling lately that the pressure of work – namely my role in organising NZ Sculpture OnShore – has left me little time for blogging and I have abandoned quite a few posts because I didn’t have time to write and edit them to a standard that I felt made them worth sharing.
Time feels like my enemy at the moment. NZ Sculpture OnShore begins in just over a month, and my role as Marketing Manager seems ever-increasing. The event raises money for Women’s Refuge – over $1.34 million to date – and is the largest sculpture exhibition in the country. It’s run mainly by volunteers and people working pro bono (like me) so everything is done on a shoestring, and often late at night or first thing in the morning – squeezed between the everyday demands of “real life.”
So, to my wonderful blogging friends who have nominated me, I offer thanks and something of an apology for not participating in the awards you have offered to share with me. I can’t in good conscience accept an award if I’m not prepared to engage fully with the conditions, and I don’t feel I can spare the time to do that right now.
But you have got me thinking. It’s become increasingly clear that the principal pleasure I derive from blogging is being part of a community, and I haven’t been very good at looking outward and engaging with that community as much as I’d like. So I’ve decided that in lieu of participating in awards, I’m going to commit to better acknowledging the members of my whanau; sharing your posts and, I hope, introducing you to people you may not already know online.
In the meantime, I’d like to offer my heartfelt thanks to some very talented bloggers whose work – if you don’t already know it – you might like to check out.
And thank you (again) to every member of this blogging whanua. You have turned what began as a faintly absorbing writing exercise into an important part of my life.
Ngā mihi nui (my best wishes)
Back home after four days “down country”; I’ve unpacked, dealt with the laundry, emptied one in-box and baulked at the task of responding to all the emails in the other. I’ve drunk my quota of coffee and raided the fridge. Now I think I need some quiet time.
The old county council offices in Raetihi. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Shot with Iphone4, edited with Pixlr Express.
My road trip through the central North Island as taken me to lots of small rural towns. Many are struggling through the loss of traditional industries and our nation’s social and political inability – or unwillingness – to address massively unbalanced economic and population growth which is seeing Auckland’s formerly productive farms and orchards turned into housing estates while smaller towns, and even provincial cities, languish.
In Wanganui – like many towns – many old buildings in which generations of New Zealanders have lived, worked and transacted business now lie empty. Yet I’m beginning to love this provincial city where my father has made his home. It has a thriving arts and cafe scene and hasn’t been overrun by chain stores and Two Dollar shops.
I would have loved to spend more time photographing these beautiful old buildings. Sadly I didn’t have time on this trip and I would also like to capture them without parked cars, road cones and Council trucks blocking my shots!
This post was written in response to Sally’s Phoneography and non-SLR digital photography challenge.
En route to visit my dad, I took a detour up Mt. Ruapehu, the North Island’s tallest mountain. It looked like a great day for skiing, but I was content to just crunch around in the snow for a little while.
I’ve spent the day pondering how I might respond to yesterday’s election; how I might convey my disgust and disappointment that given an opportunity that only comes once every three years, the people of NZ might choose compassion over greed; sustainability over short-term, limited and selective economic “growth.” I still can’t quite explore all the dark recesses of anger and disgust, so I’m sharing this eloquent and passionate post, which says what I would try to, if only I could.
My heart is sore. I never thought I would feel so saddened by a country. I never thought I would feel so disillusioned with the people of New Zealand. I never thought I would ache with sorrow for the way New Zealand has become a country of people who worry more about their pockets than the future generations to come.
Last night I had decided to stay away from the news, but inadvertently [well maybe not] found myself seeing New Zealand sink in to the mire. The people of this once great country voted for another term of corruption, another term of money and profits for the big corporations above the health and welfare of this land, its people…its very heart.
To those of you considering immigrating to New Zealand I say this.
This land called Aotearoa is dying. We are not clean and we are not green. We do…
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