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.