Reading and writing

“This book is for the reader who seeks a language with which to counter the development imperative in our accelerating culture. The various crises we encounter — ecological, economic or psychological — are very much the result of a blinkered philosophy of endless growth and cultural acceleration.”

— from the Introduction to Stand Firm

Definitely words to reflect on and process in my journal (over coffee and an early hot cross bun).

And an image for the Ragtag Daily Prompt | book

Leisurely breakfast


Kereru (wood pigeon) in ti kouka (cabbage tree). Image: Su Leslie 2019

I almost didn’t reach for my camera when a kereru swooped down on our cabbage tree this morning.

Normally by the time I’ve got the lens cap off and focused the camera, the bird has flown.

But not today.

The fruit must have been very appetizing because I actually had time to swap lenses and capture a bunch of shots before I had to dash off to an appointment.


Some thoughts on atmospheric conditions, focus and the illusion of isolation

In the aftermath of Friday’s massacre at two Christchurch mosques, I am struggling to find ways to verbalise the sorrow and anguish I feel.

I remembered writing this post, and quoting John Donne’s Meditation, which conveys so beautifully my thoughts and feelings.

But when I read the post, I also realised how smug and privileged was my assertion of NZ as a “safe place”.

One of the things that is becoming clear since Friday, is that for many, New Zealand is far from safe. The Muslim community has been trying for years to make those in charge understand how much hatred and discrimination and violence its members experience every day.

And they are not alone.

If anything good can come of the hideous violence that killed fifty people and forever changed the lives of countless others, it must be a widespread recognition that our PM’s declaration — “this is not who we are” — is, at best — “this is not who we want to be.”

If we accept that, and refuse to accept hatred and extremism, we can perhaps become a safe place for everyone.


Image-1 All it takes is a change of focus to see what lies beyond us. Raindrops on Loropetalum chinense (chinese fringe flower) leaves. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I woke this morning to find the world beyond my street has disappeared.

A mist has rolled across the harbour and made an island of this, slightly elevated, piece of land I call home. Beyond the neighbours’ roofs, a stand of macrocarpa trees fades softly into a flat, grey void.

The still air carries the sound of motorway traffic in the distance, but like shapes in the mist, the sound is muffled and indistinct — a mere hint of life beyond this temporary island.

For this time I am alone; the drivers, dog-walkers, joggers and cyclists either still at home or invisible to me.

For this time I can enjoy the quiet and solitude, the safety and peace, of my island. Soon it will…

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No longer the country I woke up in this morning

A whole new kind of evil has raised its ugly, violent head in Aotearoa New Zealand today.

The details are unclear, but one or more gunmen stormed two mosques in Christchurch and fired on worshippers. Many people — we don’t yet know how many — are dead or wounded. Security forces are defusing IEDs and the city is in lockdown.

I woke up today feeling angry that yesterday one of the leaders of the Green Party, James Shaw — a Cabinet Minister — was beaten up while walking to work in central Wellington. It wasn’t a random attack; he was deliberately targeted. Shit like that isn’t meant to happen in NZ where our politicians are routinely to be found hanging out like normal people and are generally incredibly accessible.

By lunchtime I was cheered by the energy of the climate change strike events — at which James Shaw, black eye and all — spoke passionately to huge applause.

Then it all came crashing down.

I suppose it was naive to think that these little islands at the bottom of the world could be immune to the insane hatred and violence blighting so many other countries. Our time had to come. And it has.

Tonight we are a nation in mourning. For the senseless loss of precious lives, and for our country’s loss of innocence today.

When the familiar disappears

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Early morning mist, Collins Park Greenhithe. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I love the way that morning mist renders even the most familiar landscape a little bit unknown and mysterious.

I’ve lived in the same place for 19 years, and although much has changed in that time, physical alterations have been gradual, each settling more or less gently into the neighbourhood.

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Still a pleasant place to sit. War Memorial Park Greenhithe, Auckland. Image: Su Leslie 2019

Until recently.

In the last year or so, a large number of modest houses have been demolished to be make way for McMansions. In the latest case, there was sufficient land around the old house to be subdivided into seven lots, each priced at just over a million dollars.

That’s right. For a NZ$1,050,000 (1) you can own 600m2 of bare suburban land upon which to build your dream home. As long as your dream complies with the (usually quite restrictive) building covenants on such developments.

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Scraped bare. Gone is the modest house, garden and small orchard. Image: Su Leslie 2019

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Installing services for seven new houses that will be built on this site. Image: Su Leslie 2019

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On the left, an old-school renovation. On the right, bin for construction waste for a complete re-build; the previous house having been demolished. Image: Su Leslie 2019

I hardly know where to start with my list of concerns about this trend. The increasing homogenization of an already elite neighbourhood? The massive environmental footprints of the new houses? The obscenity of building mansions when there are families only a few miles away living in their cars?

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Old Greenhithe. How long before the area’s original cottages (with environmentally friendly rainwater tanks) are just a distant memory? Image: Su Leslie 2019

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No room for eccentricity. Quirky and unique letterboxes aren’t allowed in covenanted developments. Image: Su Leslie 2019

When I noticed this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge theme was “around the neigbourhood”, I set out for a walk intending to capture some of the beauty and charm of the place where I live.

What worries me is that so much of that charm is being destroyed, and what’s left will only be accessible to the wealthy few.

(1) $1,050,000 = around US$719,000, approx £541,500, just over 1,000,000 Australian dollars, or €635,000.