126 years

Camellia Japonica “Kate Sheppard.” Seen in the grounds of the NZ Parliament, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Yesterday was Women’s Suffrage Day in New Zealand.

On September 19th, 1893, the Governor General Lord Glasgow, signed into law a bill granting eligibility to vote to “all women who were ‘British subjects’ and aged 21 and over, including Māori, were now eligible to vote (the nationhood requirement excluded some groups, such as Chinese women).”

It made New Zealand the first country in the world to grant women the vote.

The white camellia was a symbol of women’s suffrage, and this cultivar, “Kate Sheppard” is named after one of the leaders of the suffrage movement.

Kate Sheppard (and the camellia) are also depicted on our ten dollar bill.

Posted to Friday Flowers

Macro Monday


How do we trust the structure when only a fragment is in focus? Su Leslie, 2018

The structure here is a titanium earring (a madly impractical, 1980s-excess sort of earring); incredibly strong because it is a) titanium and, b) triangular.

I know this because it’s my earring, but life is full of structures for which I have no “eye of God” perspective.

A society works because (and when) its citizens can trust the institutions and processes that form the structure of that society. Trust can only be maintained if those institutions and processes continue to perform, and do so with sufficient transparency that we are not left holding onto little but blind faith.

And when the structures start to seem wobbly or indistinct, it is our job as members of the society to stand together and do all we can to fix them.

Easier said than done, admittedly.

Wordy Wednesday: woo hoo, we bought a beach


Not Awaroa, but nearby Kaiteriteri Beach. Places like this will be continue to be accessible to the boy-child and his children, thanks to New Zealanders’ desire to see as much of our coastline as possible remain in public hands. Image: Leslie family archive, 2007,

Some days I’m really proud to be a New Zealander.

This morning I woke to learn that a crowd-funding campaign supported by 39,000 Kiwis (including the Big T and me) has succeeded in buying a beach (1).


Awaroa Inlet Beach, Abel Tasman, NZ. Image courtesy of Wilsons Abel Tasman.

Awaroa Inlet Beach, in the Abel Tasman area of Nelson, was put up for sale at the beginning of this year by the family which had owned it for a number of years. During their tenure, they had allowed public access to the beach, but with new ownership came the very real possibility that such access would be taken away.

A couple of guys from the South Island got pretty upset about this, and on January 22nd, launched a Givealittle campaign to raise money to buy the beach and put it into public ownership — so everyone could enjoy this beautiful, pristine area of coastline. The aim was to raise at least NZ$2,000,000. This was achieved, but as the sale was by tender, it was by no means certain the amount would be enough.

Duane Major and Lincoln Churchill set up the Givealittle campaign to buy Awaroa Inlet Beach for all New Zealand. Image courtesy of The Press, 16 February, 2016.

This morning we found out that it was. With a little extra help from an anonymous donor and the NZ Government, New Zealanders have asserted control over our land and added an extra beach to the Abel Tasman National Park.

It may seem frivolous and very “First World” to buy a beach. After all, just a few days ago our Fijian neighbours were struck by Tropical Cyclone Winston, which killed at least 29 people, left many thousands homeless and has wrecked untold damage on Fiji’s vital tourist industry.

But what we have done carries symbolic as well as practical significance. New Zealanders have traditionally been incredibly egalitarian people. Until it began to be dismantled in the 1990s, health, education and welfare systems genuinely worked, to everyone’s benefit, and the notion of the wealthy few excluding the many from our beautiful landscapes would have been unthinkable. It seems it still is.

The Awaroa Beach campaign has taken the abstract concepts of fairness, equality, even democracy; and given them form and power. It has shown how ordinary people are using new technologies (social media, online fundraising, etc) to bring about change.

It has shown that there is hope; something that is much-needed as our government prepares to ratify the TPPA agreement.


Anti-TPPA protests. New Zealanders have been less successful at preventing the sale of our sovereignty. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

And I’d be willing to bet that many of the people who pledged money towards buying Awaroa Beach are also digging deep to help the people of Fiji. That’s what Kiwis do.

(1) Abel Tasman beach: Campaigners’ bid to buy Awaroa Inlet for nation successful. NZ Herald online, 24 Feb, 2016

Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: looking back on the year

Like Sally and Raewyn (decocraftsdigicrafts),  I’m using this last post of the year to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge  to look back at some of the images I’ve shared in 2015.

There are definite themes that emerge; my growing fascination with the minutiae of the natural world, my frustration with neo-liberal political and economic systems that devalue both human life and the earth upon which we depend, and a growing interest in the interplay between memory and image. And of course art; particularly sculpture. This last has also provided an excuse to indulge in another love — travel — taking me to Wellington for LUX Festival of Light, Gibbs Farm on the Kaipara, and Sydney for the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition at Bondi.


Visitors to Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, NSW, Australia pose by Norton Flavell's sculpture 'Dust.' Image: Su Leslie, 2015

How to experience art in the twenty first century. Artwork: ‘Dust’ by Norton Flavell. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

At Bondi, I noticed an alarming number of visitors treating works of art as little more than backdrop for selfies; this became the basis of my post Putting yourself in the picture: how to experience art in the 21st century.

88.5 degrees ARC x8

Bernar Venet, ‘88.5 ARC x 8. Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park, Kaipara Harbour, NZ. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

A rainy day visit to the monumental sculptures at Gibbs Farm left me feeling renewed and awed at the juxtaposition of art and landscape (Art in the Outdoors: a vigorous antidote to melancholy)

Art installation, "Feed the Kids Too [Capital]", Turtle Donna Sarten and Bernie Harfleet, Wellington LUX, 2015. Photo; Su Leslie, 2015

Feed the Kids Too [Capital], Turtle Donna Sarten and Bernie Harfleet, Wellington LUX, 2015. Photo; Su Leslie, 2015

My friends Turtle Donna Sarten and Bernie Harfleet took their beautiful and thought-provoking work Feed the Kids Too to Wellington’s LUX Festival where it proved once again to be a hit with visitors.

"All that is solid melts into air" graffitti on old pipes lying alongside the River Thames, London. Black and white photo by Su Leslie, 2015.

Riverside, Greenwich, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Marx’s “all that is solid melts into air” graffiti’d onto rusting pipes beside London’s Thames provoked a piece on urbanisation and unchecked growth — a theme I had already visited in an earlier challenge — On the Half-Gallon, Quarter-Acre Pavlova Paradise.


High density housing on the city fringes. Far from the “Kiwi quarter acre” and beyond the means of many. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Politics was never far from my thoughts in 2015, as the Big T and I joined many thousands of people around the world protesting at the proposed TPPA agreement.


The face of peaceful protest to protect New Zealand’s economy, environment and way of life. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015



Enjoying the beauty of age. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

Photo-editing as a tool to explore the relationships between image, emotion and memory became increasingly important to me, as I began to focus on the natural world and my place in it.

photo 3(55)

Agapanthus. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Edited with Snapseed.


Money tree blossom. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

photo 2

Autumn. Photo: Su Leslie 2015.

photo 1

Surprisingly warm for the time of year; the boy-child testing the water. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

And sometimes I managed not to over-think and seek deeper meaning. Sometimes, I was able just to enjoy the moment and the images that captured that moment — particularly when it meant spending time with my son.

To Sally, many thanks for hosting this challenge. Thanks too to everyone who takes part and makes the experience so interesting, sociable and rewarding.

Wishing you all a very happy new year.

ngā mihi o te tau hou


Politics and protest: not really black and white

The face of peaceful protest to protect New Zealand's economy, environment and way of life. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

The face of peaceful protest to protect New Zealand’s economy, environment and way of life. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

I don’t often photograph people, but did feel compelled to document last weekend’s protests against our government’s secret negotiation of TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement).

Shoulder to shoulder. Protesters on Auckland's Queen Street. #TPPA protest. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Shoulder to shoulder. Protesters on Auckland’s Queen Street. #TPPA protest. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

For some time now, New Zealanders have been voicing concern about the possible impacts of such an agreement on our health system, environment, economy and indeed our sovereignty. There is also very real concern that the whole negotiation process is being carried out in secret. Effectively we’re being asked to sign up to a wide-ranging and long-term agreement sight unseen.

Thousands gathered in Aotea Square, Auckland, to protest @TPPA. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Thousands gathered in Aotea Square, Auckland, to protest @TPPA. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Despite wide-ranging concerns, the mainstream media has consistently underplayed and ignored the issue. For that reason, it is important that ordinary people document the protests which were held in towns across New Zealand. These attracted many thousands of people of all ages, backgrounds and socio-economic group.


#TPPA protesters on Auckland’s Queen Street. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

A face in the crowd. #TPPA protest, Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

A face in the crowd. #TPPA protest, Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Protesters; march against secret negotiations of #TPPA, Auckland, NZ. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Protesters; march against secret negotiations of #TPPA, Auckland, NZ. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

This post was written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.


Six word Saturday: thousands marched in protest today #TPPAWalkAway

#TPPAWalkAway. Thousands of Aucklanders take to the streets to protest the secret TPPA negotiations. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

#TPPAWalkAway. Thousands of Aucklanders gather in Aotea Square to protest the secrecy surrounding the government negotiating the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Getting ready to march. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Getting ready to march. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015


Stretching down Queen Street; anti TPPA protest in Auckland. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015


#TPPAWalkAway. Thousands of protesters around New Zealand urged the government to reconsider the highly secret TPPA negotiations. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

What is TPPA (The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement)?