By three pm after a couple of brief stops, we were in Tauranga 520 km away, and getting involved in the 63rd annual convention of the Photographic Society of New Zealand. So far so good, but I am exhausted after the end of the day and ready for bead and have done nothing with yesterday’s pictures. Here they come, ready or not, beginning at the Point Halswell Light.
A few steps around the corner, a small flock of Little Black shags were sheltering in the overhang of a tree hanging onto the shoreline. As far as I can tell, the Little Black is the only member of the shag family that hunts as a pack.
Near Seatoun, there was a somewhat ominous view to the South which did not promise much at all for today’s travel.
Who is that nut out there thinking he might get a worthwhile picture in the rain? The genius Charles Schultz drew a Peanuts cartoon strip in which Charlie Brown is standing on his pitcher’s mound in a torrential downpour, wondering where the rest of the team is. Linus dressed in oilskins and Sou’Wester asks from under his umbrella “have you considered they may not come?” Charlie replies “not for a second.” And so I was at Dead Man’s elbow in Sladden Park, Petone. The combination of high tide and swollen river meant that the water was lapping at the edge of the car park to create a seamless interface between wet tarmac and sullen river. The black swans were up on the grass, but the mallard ducks were cruising hopefully towards me in the hope that I might dispense bread. Alas, I had none.
At the Seaview marina, there were a few boat dwellers trudging along the pier to the ablution block for a shower, but otherwise all was quiet, and very wet.
In Lowry Bay I saw a large object looming out of the rain. It was the coastal petroleum tanker, Torea inbound to the Pt Howard terminal with the aid of Centreport’s two red tugs Tiaki and Tapuhi. I went back to Port Road for a less restricted view of her berthing. The rain chose that moment to ease off so I have the tanker, jetty and tugs relatively clear against the grey mist everywhere else.
Back at home, our decorative Japanese maple was showing its bright autumnal colours despite the rain.
Back to more mundane topics in some decidedly mundane grey weather.
In oriental bay on the Eastern side of the former Overseas Passenger Terminal, there is a small yacht basin. Perhaps I haven’t noticed her before but the yacht Wai Aniwa’s red hull caught my eye.
From a little to the West, I got a view of two naval vessels berthed on the outer side of Queen’s Wharf. They were obviously in port for the ANZAC observances. Nearest the camera is the French frigate, Vendémiaire. She has been here on many previous occasions. Ahead of her at the wharf was HMNZS Wellington, an offshore patrol vessel of the Royal New Zealand Navy. Also visible on the Southern wall of the post office headquarters building is a huge banner with a replica of an ANZAC commemorative stamp. Most people will look at that image and assume that it is a picture of the deservedly famous Australian hero, Simpson and his donkey. In fact the Moore-Jones painting reproduced is now known to be of the New Zealander, Dick Henderson who carried on Simpson’s work after he was killed. Brave men, both.
In Naval terms, Vendémiaire is getting old, having been launched in 1993. However, she is a clean and well-kept vessel, apparently well suited to her role as a surveillance frigate. She has teeth, with a 100mm automatic turret, two Exocet launchers and a pair of 20mm weapons. Wellington, by comparison carries one remote-controlled 25mm gun and two .50 cal machineguns plus small arms. I wonder if that’s why the poaching vessels refused to be boarded by her in the recent confrontation.
Looking the other way, I noticed the Datacom building on Jervois Quay. Way back in 1980, I worked for Philips, the Dutch multinational, and we were the first tenants of the South tower. It had splendid views from my window on the tenth (top) floor. As I said, it was a grey day.
It was the centenary of the disastrous invasion of Turkey at Gallipoli. Troops from the UK, France Australia, New Zealand, India and Canada attempted to secure a sea route to their ally, Russia by gaining control of the Dardanelles. There are many opinions that suggest this calamitous venture was the trigger point from which both Australia and New Zealand began to think of themselves as having an identity separate from that of their mother country, England.
There are those who characterize this centennial commemoration as a “glorification of war”. I vigorously reject and repudiate that label. It is not a glorification to mourn the lost, to remember their suffering and celebrate their courage. It is not a glorification to remember and honour those on all sides who died or were injured doing what they believed to be right for their country.
Dawn is not my natural habitat, but it seemed proper to be at the dawn observances. In an ordinary year, about a thousand might turn out at the Lower Hutt Cenotaph. This time, I estimate about 5,000. I read that there were over 40,000 at the new national memorial at Pukeahu Park in Wellington.
The honor guard around the cenotaph was provided by youngsters of the cadet forces who marched smartly though the crowd to take their places at each corner and to stand motionless in the traditional position with downcast eyes and resting on reversed arms.
The ceremony took the well-worn format of ANZAC services throughout Australasia, and at the appropriate time, as the Last Post was sounded, and the flag lowered to half mast, the crowd was completely still.
In the darkness of the chilly morning, I took my hand-held pictures at very slow speed without flash. This picture seems to capture some of the essence of te occasion, and has had positive feedback in the “impressionist” group. Some will just see a blurred picture. I see an ever diminishing body of ordinary men and women, courageous heroes all.
In the afternoon, I visited the Salamanca Lawn in Kelburn where there is a field of remembrance containing one white cross for each of the 866 soldiers from the Wellington region who died in WWI.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.*
It began well, with a nice soft light across the Boulcott’s Farm Heritage Golf club. It promised a nice day ahead.
In the city there was to be a rather unique parade. On the day before ANZAC day, Sir Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, etc) made available some of his personal collection of WWI military vehicles for a parade to include bands, horses and people in period costume. I went to the city early to ensure a place on e parade route. As always, I was far too early so I had a coffee in Midland Park where I tried yet again to make something of Silvia Salgado’s fountain in the park entitled “Nga Korerorero – Ongoing Talk”
I walked around the participating vehicles in the grounds of parliament, and then staked out a place on Lambton Quay where I thought to have a good view. The parade started on time at 12:30 pm and an early crowd favourite was the horse-drawn artillery piece with outriders and foot soldiers. They were warmly applauded.
Their applause, however was overshadowed by the cheers and hilarity that accompanied the two sturdy lads trudging behind the gun, scooping up anything the horses left behind. Scatological humour is never far from the surface in New Zealand.
The vehicles were splendidly presented, and driven by people wearing the drill khaki uniforms of the WWI soldier. I wore such a uniform back when military training was a compulsory part of secondary schools for boys. I can attest that they are itchy, heavy, and uncomfortable.
There were three pipe bands (well separated) and a brass band in the parade, ans a contingent of New Zealand Territorial soldiers looking very smart in their dress uniform. A big surprise to me, however, was the appearance of a band and a detachment of Gurkhas from Nepal. This is a fighting force with a military reputation second to none.
Among the vehicles on display was an American Field Service ambulance, complete with uniformed nurse and crew. All too soon the parade was over and I was lucky to be close enough to the parliament bus stop that I caught a bus almost immediately back to the valley.
Since the day was so beautiful and the time was still early, I detoured to Hikoikoi to see if our heron was really back. He was. I was just lining up when I heard the distinctive sound of three WWI biplanes passing over in formation. Yet another part of Sir Peter’s collection was participating in this ANZAC observance. Two SE5as and an Airco DH5 flew past on their way to the parade’s conclusion. Magnificent. Wellington owes a debt of gratitude to Sir Peter for generously sharing his collection with the rest of us. Of course there were many volunteers wh also made the parade possible, but without his astounding collection the parade would not have happened.
Having found the heron, it would be churlish not to use at least one of the images of the day.
Such a calm beautiful day that I just had to go out to the inlet.
I was seeking kingfishers, and though I got my portable hide out among the reeds for the first time in ages, and sat patiently for two hours, I saw almost nothing, and certainly nothing I could turn into a good picture. I spotted a friend who had set up in his chair back near the car park so I folded the hide and went back. At this stage I saw a kingfisher among the autumnal branches of the big tree.
In the afternoon, I went down to Hikoikoi reserve and saw this pretty songthrush hopping round on the grass.
However, the great, the glorious news was that when I put my head around the corner of the boat shed, George was back. I have visited Hikoikoi almost twice a week since the great storm in June 2013 which was the last time we saw him. I think my hopeful visits were a source of amusement to at least some of the boat shed owners. George is back. I am delighted.
Yesterday I was in the city for lunch with a bunch of former colleagues. It’s always a pleasure to get together and debate the direction of the world. Oddly whenever Mary asks what we talked about, I have no clue. Anyway, as usual, I arrived ahead of time so walked around the central city area looking for interesting angles and viewpoints.
Beside the wharf there are some restaurants which offer the full silver service, but as I walked past the place was deserted. I took the opportunity to press my nose to the glass.
In the basin between the two restaurants, there were some rather nice reflections.
Coming away from the Queen’s Wharf area, I paused to appreciate the amazing variety of shapes, colours and textures. The mixture of ancient and modern, permanent and temporary, sail-cloth masonry and glass is just great.
We were meeting at the Thistle Inn on Mulgrave Street, so I meandered along Lambton Quay and noticed the newly renovated Cenotaph in front of Parliament. With the new national memorial at Pukeahu Park at the top end of town, I am not sure if this will be the focus of any observances at all this ANZAC day (Saturday).
The new camera (“Ollie”) is slowly becoming familiar.
That means that preferred settings come more easily to hand. I still have moments, however, where I have to stop and explore the various menu options and find how to achieve what I want. My first shot from yesterday was just behind the weir on the Hutt River at the Taita Gorge. I read a few days ago that there are two kinds of landscape image. Those that were taken using a tripod, and those that should have been. This is one of the latter.
My wandering took me through Silverstream and up Blue Mountains Rd through Pinehaven. There I found a stand of deciduous trees in their full Autumn splendour. They look different in kind to the beech trees behind Arrowtown, and they are much smaller in the area covered, so I had to line up carefully to get the trees, and nothing but the trees.
Over the hill into Whiteman’s Valley and I renewed my acquaintance with an old ex-army Bedford RL truck. I have photographed it before, but I am certain that it is slowly going back to the earth from whence it came. More and more foliage is becoming entangled in the chassis and emerging from the observer’s ring in the cab roof. Rust is eroding the edges of the sheet metal work and the possibility of a restoration seems to recede each time I see it.
Quite close to the Bedford is an old Land Rover. It too is being overtaken by the surrounding weeds and shrubs, though it doesn’t look as far gone as the Bedford.
A very pleasant lunch in a previously unknown (to me) yum cha restaurant with a photographic friend was a good reason to wander around Petone afterwards. There are a few areas of greater Wellington that have real character, and Petone is undeniably on that list. There are other areas where I struggle to find a photograph, but that’s for another day. There is a lot of visible history in Petone, and sometimes it takes more than a lick of paint to conceal a sagging verandah.
Though I like the various cafes and restaurants on Jackson Street, most of the shops are outside my area of interest, with too many “junk shops”. On the other hand, the merchandise on display on the footpaths offers a variety of textures.
From the shopping centre I went to the Hikoikoi reserve at the Hutt River estuary, and looked first for bird life. Nothing of huge interest was present. On the other hand I liked the shapes and contrast provided by the water at low tide. I tend to eschew monochrome as a genre, but I like the occasional image that is naturally monochromatic.
My final shot was of a newcomer to the anchorage inside the seawall at Hikoikoi. I have no idea if Taboo is a permanent addition, but she looks in need of a loving restoration.
Morning mist spilling over the hill from Wainuiomata was a good beginning and hinted at a clear calm day ahead.
So it proved for most of the day. I took myself out to Pauatahanui in the hope of seeing a kingfisher which my friend Toya seems to be seeing in large numbers. Just one bird in the distance that flew away. I looked up and by way of consolation, a fantail performed a near perfect spread. Pity about the intervening branches.
In the evening, Mary and I went to Pukeahu park. For old Wellingtonians who don’t know where that is, it is a newly formed large open park which embodies a war memorial in front of the carillon near the former Dominion Museum. The road from the basin Reserve now passes through the Arras Tunnel beneath the park and re-emerges on Taranaki Street and carries on to the motorway entrance at Willis Street. From now until ANZAC day (April 25th) there is a repeating sound and light show projected onto the carillon and onto the old museum. This is to commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign.
There were several hundred images cycling onto both structures and some of them were very moving indeed. A sequence that I liked began with a name and a poppy scrolling down the building, then more names and poppies in increasing intensity until there was just a cascade of poppies, one for each fatality.
Inside the former museum, Sir Peter Jackson has set up a series of spaces, one for each year of the war. Inside each space are artefacts, models and representations appropriate to the progress of the war. A village in Belgium is the opening scene for 1914.
As the war progresses through the spaces, the representations become more bleak and takes us closer to the front. These figures and related props are life-sized. I am not 100% sure of my identification, but I think the Belgian aircraft is a Caudron of one sort or another.
Some of the scenes represented are quite hard to look at, but the craftsmanship and the respect with which everything is presented are superb. A recurring feature in each of the years is a representation of Sir Peter’s own grandfather who survived the war, but lost an arm in 1918. The closing scene is of a very young Peter Jackson standing with his grandfather against a background of poppies and wounded heroes. The whole thing is magnificently done, and will be on display (with free entry) until 2018.