Three weeks of lockdown at level 4 (the highest) are now completed in New Zealand. At least one more week to go, and perhaps more. Even if the government does loosen the reins, I suspect there will still be considerable restrictions on movement, especially for those of us over 70.
If as a result, I don’t pass the virus to anyone else, or indeed receive it as an unwelcome gift from another person, then it is a price worth paying.
Mary and I are doing well in our shared confinement, and have much to be grateful for, especially having Mary as my “bubble companion”. Of course the confinement has a limiting effect on my photography. It does however, give me lots of practice in photographing things that are closer than usual. It also enables me to observe just how very hard Mary works (and has always done) to keep the house running smoothly and still keep supporting other people by phone.
Mary brings home things that might make a good image. I really liked this roadside plant. My web search suggests it is a Yarrow (also known as Achillea). The density of the little flowers made it especially attractive to me.
Just about a kilometre down the road, and well within our permitted walking distance is the grand old house originally built for George von Zedlitz, one of the four founding professors of Victoria University of Wellington. Sadly, being German, he was interned on Somes Island as an enemy alien during the first world war. The university did not cover itself in glory with their support for him. The house is in what is now Jubilee Park, just across the road from us. It is currently designated as Hutt Minoh House, and is the focus of the sister city relationship between Lower Hutt and the Japanese city of Minoh. Although the park in which it is situated is predominantly native bush, there are patches of deciduous trees which allow me to find a touch of Autumn colour in the otherwise unrelenting green.
The full moon just prior to Easter looked as if it was going to emerge into a clear sky. Then the Eastern hills acquired a blanket of low cloud. The moon appeared but hid behind the scudding clouds. I took the shot and was quite pleased with the result … click to enlarge for a better view. This shot was made from our front door.
I gather that in many countries where lockdowns are in force, people are putting “teddy bears” in their windows to cheer up the kids walking in the neighbourhood. Some householders are putting a lot of effort into their bear displays. This home owner changes the persona of the bear every so often and most recently it has a red wig and a guitar in its guise as Ed Bearan.
A near neighbour has been painting rocks to give to friends and neighbours to cheer them up in these times of lockdown and anxiety. Some are left on the roadside as treasures to be found by random strangers and they each have a message of encouragement on the back. She does very nice work. People are really good.
The flow of things that might be worth photographing continue as Mary does her regular daily walk around the hills, anywhere from seven to twelve kilometres a day. This lovely piece of leptospermum is a derivative of the Manuka shrub, much prized for the medicinal quality of the honey made from it. I like it for the delicacy of the flowers perhaps a centimetre in diameter. .
Sometimes I spend a lot of time setting up images that, while they may look attractive to me, make no sense. In this case, a chrysanthemum blossom floating in a glass vase is accompanied by some dandelion blossoms from the (un-mowed) back garden. I like it but can offer no other reason for making the picture.
Despite the cuteness of Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, the common hedgehog is a pest animal in New Zealand. It is a serious predator of many of our ground-dwelling birds, and as a friend described it they are a “rat with spines”. It is rare that we see them near home and especially in daylight. I am not equipped either in tools or in my nature to kill the animal so it was allowed to wander on its way.
At the bottom of the front yard there is a ponga fern which is a good indicator of whether the wind is the prevailing Nor’Wester or a colder Southerly. It just depends on which side its skirts are lifted. At this stage the wind was well in excess of 60 km/h. Even had there been no lockdown, I probably would not have gone far on such a day.
Our home at 150 metres above sea level is very far above even the highest of tides, so the only explanation for this piece of driftwood is that it took Mary’s attention while on some beach walk and I was persuaded to load it into the car. It’s a very heavy lump of wood and thus not suitable for setting up on my usual photography table. The stump takes on various characters depending on the weather and the way its coating of moss and lichen catches the light.
I have not seen the spider that made this web. The randomness of the pattern is astonishing. Even more so is the question of how it went about building it. I tend to view it as a little like Gaudi’s plan for the Sagrada Familia cathedral … for a very long time, though they admired the work, other architects struggled to understand how the design derived its strength and how it worked.
Though I have spent a lot of time focus stacking recently, I suspect I shall be glad to move onto other techniques when the present lockdown is relaxed. Meanwhile, here we have a new unfurling frond from a silver fern. the circle of light is a shot glass in the background.
As you can see, most of the images in this edition have been made in close proximity to the subject. Despite the relative comfort of our metaphorical prison, I shall look forward to the chance to get further away whenever it finally arises.
This week marks a special occasion which you can read about under the final image.
When I last wrote, everything was more or less normal here in New Zealand. I no longer know what “normal” means. Back then, there was little indication of the changes to come. Now we are in lockdown, and since Mary and I are both in the over 70 age group, society is taking special care of us. We are not even supposed to go to the supermarket because we are apparently especially vulnerable to catching the infection.
When I first heard the lockdown regulations, I formed some preconceptions as to how this would play out and where I would still be able to go for photography. Reality is a little different and rather more restrictive. The basic rules are:
Stay at home
Wash and dry your hands frequently.
Stay within your own domestic “bubble”
Stay at least two metres from anyone from outside of your bubble
You can leave home for essential purposes such as visits to supermarket, or a doctor unless you are over 70 in which case you need to get someone else to shop for you because you are more vulnerable
Go back to rule 1 … rinse and repeat
Despite rule 1, it is permitted to exercise in your own neighbourhood by walking, running, cycling etc, as long as you remain close to home and don’t come closer than two metres to anyone else. More adventurous exercises such as hiking, surfing etc are not permitted because if you need assistance you endanger others.
So, with all that in mind let us explore the images I have made since last time, in chronological order.
A pleasant morning and the likelihood of some bird shots resulted in Mary packing a lunch and the two of us setting out in the direction of Waikanae. Remember, this was when things were still “normal”. On Gray’s Rd around the Northern edge of the Pauatahanui Inlet, we saw the spoonbills. I thought that the cluster of them dredging for crabs in the soft mud of a serpentine creek might make a picture. I like the wandering path made by the creek, but the spoonbills were less prominent than I hoped for in my mind’s eye. I think, if you click to get the enlarged image, you will see the grey teal in between the two nearest spoonbills.
In Queen Elizabeth II Park at Paekakariki, I checked out the US Marines memorial Wetlands and was delighted to find that the dabchick families were still in residence. This one still wears the black and white facial markings of a juvenile bird, and indeed it was still being fed by its parents. I have to say I always enjoy the deep green colour of the QEII wetlands as they reflect the surrounding bush.
It needs to be acknowledged that Wellington is a small city, and there are relatively few parts of it that I have not yet been to in search of picture opportunities. The obvious consequence is that there are some places that I have used over and over and over again. My excuse is that they are attractive or interesting spots to begin with, and different days present different conditions, and thus different pictures.
This image was made from inside the breakwater on the Eastern side of the Clyde Quay Wharf (formerly known as the Overseas Passenger Terminal). As you can see, the conditions were calm.
On the same day as the preceding image I crossed in front of the boat sheds, to catch the stillness of the day. Many leading photographers tell us that clear blue skies are boring, I still make blue sky images if the scene appeals, but I do enjoy grey skies if the clouds have textures. On this occasion, I liked the patterns and their reflections in the remarkably still water. So far, life is still normal.
If I had known that my photographic activity in the near future would be almost exclusively based on still life, I might have gone elsewhere. However, the Begonia House in Wellington’s Botanic Garden offers some visual pleasure, even in normal times. There were some nice shots of orchids, and begonias to be had, but the vivid purple of the water lilies made this an image of power for me.
Another place I visit often in normal times is the Pauatahanui Inlet. I have over 3,000 images in my catalogue from there. So many different moods, but always my favourites are when the water is still and offering reflections.
The Hutt Valley was misty so I had hoped there might be similar conditions at Pauatahanui. Sadly that rarely happens, and I am guessing that the exposure to the sea air on the Western side of Haywards Hill prevents the mist forming. Anyway. I regret that E.L.James seems to have captured the phrase “shades of grey”as I love these conditions (the meteorological ones).
There are days when, even though conditions are calm, the South Coast still gets heavy swells. The sheer majesty of a big slow moving wave and the weight of water thudding into the rocks never fails to move me. I could watch those green walls coming in for hours.
And now the change begins. The New Zealand Government implemented a series of conditions numbered 1 through 4 each with increasing levels of control measures to manage the spread of Covid-19. It opened at level 2, and then on March 24 went to level 3 with the warning that it would be at level 4 for at least four weeks from the following day.
Careful to minimise contact with others, Mary and I made the last of our final day of freedom for a while and drove first to Makara and then on to Plimmerton for a picnic lunch. On the way, we visited the West Wind wind farm. There standing beside one of the big turbines, we enjoyed this view across the Cook Strait to Arapawa Island and parts of the Kaikoura ranges.
I wholeheartedly endorse the government’s management of this crisis even though it means that for at least the next four weeks, we are required to stay home except as required to obtain the necessities of life. All businesses except those providing essential goods and services are firmly closed. People over 70 (you may be surprised to learn that that includes us) are instructed fairly firmly to stay at home and rely on others to shop for them. So here we go.
Day one of the lockdown. While taking that last walk on the beach at Plimmerton the previous day, Mary found this lovely little sea urchin shell. It’s rare to find an intact one and this is a very small one … about 50 mm (2″) in diameter … I was unaware of its beautiful colours until after I made the picture.
Mary is a walker. There are few days indeed when she doesn’t walk briskly around the hills or along the riverbank for 90 minutes or more. I on the other hand, am a couch potato. Mary knows that a four week lockdown is going to be hard for me as an obsessive photographer. Bless her heart, on the first day of lockdown, she gathered a bunch of objects that she knows will make interesting still life images. The common fly agaric toadstool is quite toxic, but also presents a striking appearance. My darkbox is going to get used often, I suspect. Focus stacking may also be used for this kind of image.
Not only is she good at gathering things while walking, but Mary also has a large collection of small mementoes gathered on various trips over many years. And so, I was allowed access to her box of small sea shells. The background in this picture is a glass drinks coaster with etched concentric circles.
Back in 2014, our local hospice was involved with the Department of Conservation in a fundraising exercise involving the naming and release of a young kiwi. Mary and granddaughter Maggie got to handle the young bird, and even walked with the DoC rangers to release it in the hills behind Wainuiomata. The bird left some of its feathers behind and they found their way into Mary’s souvenir tin.
On day five of the lockdown, I was given access to some of the larger beach memories. I borrowed the sand from my long forgotten mini Zen garden and spread it in the floor of my lightbox. A couple of starfish, some sponges and some interesting shells were arranged over the sand and thus we have instant beach though no water was involved. While attempting to return the sand to its proper space, I managed to spill some on the carpet. Vacuum cleaner duty!
Another of Mary’s finds (isn’t she a gem?) was this dandelion. I decided against the straightforward ‘head and shoulders” portrait since I have done it so many times before. A paper plate was filled with water to a depth of one or two millimetres. The dandelion was then drooped until I had a clear reflection.
Landscape images are very much harder to arrange now that we can not go anywhere in the car. The best I can manage is shots of the valley from the front yard. Happily, different day, different light, different weather means a different picture. On this day, river mist coming down from the upper valley made a difference.
We have a bird bath on the front lawn, and it is well used. Sometimes five or six sparrows splash about in it, sometimes a huge kereru fills it to overflowing. On this occasion a starling was taking heed of the instruction to wash frequently and thoroughly. This was taken through the glass window of our dining room, but I enjoyed the scene.
A bunch of fly agaric toadstools were in Mary’s latest collection so I arranged them in some compost from one of our pot plants. I know they are toxic, but as far as I know that refers to ingestion, and anyway, the hand washing regime should take care of everything else.
A personal celebration
On April 4, 1970, Mary and I got married in St Patrick’s Church in Patea. We had a Nuptial Mass celebrated by the late Father Brian Sherry from New Plymouth. Being so long ago, some details of the day are hazy in my memory. However, one thing is clear, this was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Together we have five amazing children of whom we are extraordinarily proud. They in turn brought their spouses into the family and gave us six wonderful grandchildren who light up our lives, even though, in the present circumstances visitation is not possible.
Mary does not like to be the centre of attention, and I shall probably catch it for what follows, but something has to be said on such an occasion, so here goes …
She is a woman of deep faith who believes her purpose in life, her calling, is to serve others, especially those in most need. I have never met anyone who better understands the true meaning of the word “vocation”. I and my kids have benefitted enormously from this. Mary was a registered nurse for fifty years and in the last decade or so of her employment was a social worker helping patients and their families in Te Omanga Hospice.
She also volunteered for various good causes. Since her retirement in 2017 she has become busier than ever, volunteering for an organisation that offers care and assistance to young mothers, and another that supports the partners of people who have dementia. She is the most selfless person I know. It is a matter of some grief to her that, being over 70, the lockdown rules prohibit her from carrying on those tasks until it is over.
Mary has been there for me and for all our family throughout our fifty years of marriage. We have shared many joys and a few tough times. I particularly admired the way she supported me when I lost the plot and undertook to do a PhD late in life. Even more, she allowed me to leave a well paid management role in industry for a job as a university lecturer on literally half the salary.
Mary is a wise and loving woman who I am privileged to have as my wife. She is nevertheless real, and each of us occasionally does things that drive the other nuts. (I really should exercise more and eat less) But she is also a forgiving woman so here we are together still, and if my luck holds, we will continue to be so until the end of our days. Our planned celebration with the family is of course cancelled, and alas, not even the florists are open.
Thank you Mary for all that you have done, and for all that you are. You are a beautiful person and the light of my life.
It has been a busy week with various end of year functions with camera club and friends and a graduation ceremony (of which, more later). The week ahead looks no better, so let’s see what happened this week.
Sunrise in the Hutt Valley
I woke early one morning and found the sky ablaze with something that is apparently called sunrise. Having my camera nearby, I stuck it out my bedroom window to capture this phenomenon in case others might not believe me. Who knew?
Nightfall at the marina
In more familiar territory, at the end of the same day, I went down to the marina at Seaview where the last light of day had just left. I like the stillness, and despite the long exposure, the boats stayed still for me.
Still tied up but ready to go
In one of the following days I found myself at Oriental Bay and noticed the two Centreport tugs, Tiaki and Tapuhi positioning themselves to assist the container vessel Lori to leave port. I went down onto the beach and positioned the camera at sea level. and had to make sure that incoming wavelets did not splash the lens.
Rock pool, Lyall Bay
In the Western side of Lyall Bay, there are some rock pools full of interesting life and lots of Neptune’s necklace (seaweed). Every part of the this coast has a picture to offer if only I can see how to extract it.
Just above the rock pool, the shore is covered with white daisy-like flowers which I believe to be the semi-succulent African daisy (Osteospermum fruticosum). It seems to be quite invasive and covers a lot of the shoreline above the beach.
My friend Rashidah is second from Left, front row. She has earned that smile
And then there was the day of graduation. When I retired from the university way back in 2011, I was forced to hand over the supervision of my very last PhD student to my colleagues. Hailing from Sarawak where she is the chief executive of that state’s library system, my friend Rashidah was studying how institutions such as museums libraries and galleries should acquire and display the intangible cultural assets of indigenous peoples. Things that were regarded as secret and sacred needed to be treated respectfully and in accordance with the wishes of the people to whom they belonged. It was a joy for me to be allowed to attend the graduation ceremony and to wear my academic costume for the very last time. I took the picture from my position on stage with my smuggled camera, of the moment when the chancellor declares the graduands to be graduates and thus able to wear the headgear appropriate to the degree. Well done Rashidah., and congratulations to my colleagues who brought their supervision to a successful conclusion.
Thunderstorm in the distance
Weather has featured in my consciousness this week, and it even included a brief thunderstorm which is relatively rare in Wellington. I rather liked this image taken from a hilltop site in Kelson on the Western hills of a heavy cloud formation. The storm never quite reached Wellington.
Just a little north of Upper Hutt, the Mangaroa river comes in from the East to join the Hutt River . It’s not a big river but fast flowing and popular with people who come bouncing down through its many rapids on various inflatable devices.
The reason for the season
Mary and I don’t do much in the way of Christmas decorations at home, but one constant feature over the last twenty years or so has been this elegantly simple nativity scene. The figures are made of artfully folded fabrics by a gifted artist from Blenheim.
My daughter-in-law, Sarah has a garden which as a few spectacular opportunities such as these spectacular lilies
Flower of uncertain identity
In the same garden, I found this, As far as I can tell, it is a close relative of the white African daisy above … I think it is Osteospermum ecklonis.
Though I am not an ancient mariner, I seem to find water, water everywhere*.
Hutt River rounds the bend
My first image this week is of the bend in the Hutt River near Totara Park, Upper Hutt. Apart from the patch of white water, the river looked clean and blue.
Children of Owhiro Bay Primary School listening to their teacher
A day or two later, I spotted what we used to refer to as “a crocodile” … a column of primary school kids walking in an orderly fashion down Happy Valley Road towards Owhiro Bay. A while after that I saw them again, all sitting on the beach listening to the senior teacher. Being nosy I asked what school they were from and what they were doing.
One eye open – NZ Fur Seal at Owhiro Bay
They were from Owhiro Bay School and were there because, while walking to work earlier, their principal had spotted a New Zealand Fur Seal sleeping among the rocks on the shore. So I tagged along and when they had finished looking and then moved on to explore other aspects of the local environment, I got a close look. You can see that the lower eye is open, watching that I don’t get too close.
Sunset in Normandale
No water in this image, just a rather nice sunset as seen from our back door.
Magic morning at Petone
Then we had one of those days. I have mentioned them often enough, the kind where the great expanse of the harbour is flat calm. From Petone Beach to the Miramar Peninsular just right of centre is eight kilometres, and apart from the few ripples close to the beach, there is nothing to disturb the surface.
Sailing in light airs
I drove round to the city and then to Evans Bay and looked back the other way. The solitary yacht was just ghosting along in a nearly non-existent breeze.
Red yacht in Evans Bay
Further round Evans Bay at Hataitai Beach, the red yacht emphasised the utter stillness of the harbour.
Then the weather changed, so I played around again with my new light-box and a sprig of daphne provided by our kind neighbour.
Tanker in the rain
Did I mention that the weather changed? To avoid cabin fever, I went out anyway and from Lowry Bay looked back to the tanker “Ocean Mars” looming though the rain at the Seaview oil terminal.
My last image this week is the departure of the container ship “ANL Walwa” assisted by Centreport’s two tugs.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
A personal request now:
For readers not resident in New Zealand, family or friends. Though it is now six years since I retired I still like to assist students struggling to gather data for their post-graduate thesis. In this case, the student is Marlini Bakri who is exploring the influence of photographic images on friends and relatives who might decide to visit New Zealand. I provided a number of images to Marlini and said I would ask some friends and family if they would be kind enough to complete the associated survey. I would be most grateful if you would consider participation.
My name is Marlini Bakri and I am a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidate in Marketing at Victoria University of Wellington (VUW). Your friend/relative Brian has expressed interest to participate in my study, titled “More than words: Decoding the influence of user-generated images on VFR (visiting friends & relatives) travel”. They have provided your contact as a prospective participant for my study. The study would involve you completing a simple survey. The objective of this research is to understand if photographs shared online can communicate information about a destination to overseas friends and relatives. You can access the survey on desktop computers and mobile devices (e.g. tablets and mobile phones). The survey should not take more than 30 minutes, and can be terminated at any time. The survey platform saves your answers automatically, allowing you to return to the form, using the same device, at different times. All information you provide is completely confidential, and only the researcher and her supervisor will have access to the information. The data will be destroyed three years after the completion of the thesis (estimated June 2021). To participate click here: http://vuw.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3OWArxbrb8teeAB
Should you require further information about the study, please contact:
Human Ethics Committee information
If you have any concerns about the ethical conduct of the research you may contact the Victoria University HEC Central Convenor: Dr Judith Loveridge. Email email@example.com or telephone +64-4-463 9451.
School of Marketing and International Business
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600 Wellington
6140 New Zealand
Dr Jayne Krisjanous
School of Marketing and International Business
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600 Wellington
6140 New Zealand
+64 4 4636023
Dr James E. Richard
School of Marketing and International Business
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600 Wellington
6140 New Zealand
+64 4 463 5415
There was a dinner in town for my friend, PhD supervisor and former colleague, Emeritus Professor Pak Yoong to mark the occasion of his retirement. Several of us who were successfully navigated by him to our doctorates gathered to honour his dedication to our success. It was a delightful occasion.
The Hutt Valley as seen from the Cable Car terminus at Kelburn
As always, I arrived early, so to fill in time went up to Kelburn and made some landscape shots from the top of the cable car. This image is looking up the harbour to the Hutt Valley. My home is just around the corner of the hill on the left.
They serve excellent coffee and make some fine hamburgers, I am told
On Saturday, for the fourth year in a row, I was the leader of the Wellington Worldwide Photowalk. Each year, up to 50 photographic walkers in any one location gather and walk for somewhere between one and two hours around a route planned by the leader, making images and enjoying each other’s company. We usually conclude our efforts in a hostelry and share the successes and failures of the walk. This year, the numbers were down with just 18 registered, but those of us ho walked, despite grey and damp weather had a good time anyway. One of my shots, taken at the starting point on Abel Smith St, was of a bus that has been converted to a coffee shop.
Tables and chairs, usually more congenial when the sun is out
The customer seating inside the fence is just as quirky as the bus.
War memorial … one of my walkers gives it scale
From there, we walked along to the national war memorial at Pukeahu Park on Buckle St. I had timed this walk to be close to sunset, knowing that this was the first weekend of Daylight Saving Time, and anticipating warm sunshine and interesting shadows. Sadly, the strongest colour came from the red stone of the Australian contribution to the memorial. It had rained before we started and again, heavily after we finished, so I suppose we should count ourselves lucky.
Seaview Marina on a grey day
The greyness continued for a few more days , and I decided to try the new adapter I had acquired to allow me to use my ND filters on my wide angle lens. As you can see, I wasn’t kidding about the grey.
US Marines memorial at Paekakarariki
A visit was made to Queen Elizabeth II Park, on the Kapiti coast, in the hope of finding dabchick chicks. I found dabchicks and a few ducklings but no chicks.I did get a slightly different view of the memorial to the United States Marines, in honour of the 15,000 or so young men who camped and trained here before setting out to fight and in many cases die, in the famous battles of the Pacific War. This particular memorial is n the form of profiles representing the little huts that typified the camps.
Commuter train at Paekakariki
A train bound for Waikanae held up the exit from the park. The track curves, here, so be assured I was taking no foolish risks. Look closely at the waves in the tracks. I saw a similar perspective in a shot of a high speed train in Germany recently and was struck by the absolute precision of their tracks. A fast train would go airborne on this kind of engineering.
Clearly, if I hold the reins too loosely, this thing could get away on me.
It was never my intention to let a week go by without a new edition of this blog. On the other hand, I had done little by way of deliberate purposeful photography which always was my intention.
Celebrity Solstice towers over the other ships in port. The ferries Aratere and Kaiarahi are to the right
This morning, I had the very great pleasure of a brief reunion over breakfast with a good friend and former colleague and his wife. With another colleague, we spent several years urging each other towards the finishing line of our doctorates. In the end, all three of us got there by dint of mutual support, doggedness, and of course some fine supervision. Our breakfast today was at the rather quirky “Beach Babylon” in Oriental Bay. Arriving early as always, I snatched a shot of the cruise liner Celebrity Solstice which was in port for the day.
Strait Feronia leaves for Picton. Her sister ship, Straitsman, will follow in an hour or so.
After a congenial meal together, we parted company and went our ways. I paused at the kerbside to note the sailing of the Bluebridge ferry Strait Feronia. I see that there is an open deck on the front of the superstructure where passengers can look down on the bow. I imagine that space will be deserted in all but he mildest of weather.
To the North
From the same spot, there was a nice view Northwards towards the Tararuas, misty in the distance.
An imposing structure
My final shot for the day was from the railway station where naturally enough, I was photographing the cruise liner. Not in a thousand years would I contemplate the social hell that is called cruising, but I find the naval architecture involved in their massive structures to be impressive. It’s almost as if a new city block was erected overnight.
Depending on internet access, it may be a week before the next edition, since Mary and I are off on a road trip. I’ll tell you all about it when I can.
While I don’t regret leaving, I have a certain fondness for the Kelburn Campus of Victoria University.
The North facade of the Hunter Building. The big window lets light into the council chamber
The Hunter Building in particular has a special place in my memories. I was privileged to have an office in the old building for the first two years of my employment there. Compared with the small spaces my former colleagues now occupy, my office was old-time grandeur. When I moved in, in 1995, it was freshly renovated and earthquake strengthened (to the standards of the day). I decided to see what I could see yesterday, when the place was quiet.
The front door of the Hunter Building
Regrettably, the purity of the original 1904 design is diluted with the addition of some utilitarian spaces on the East facing frontage. The drab grey additions house electricity substations and emergency generators. The building is not air-conditioned. Car parking was less of a problem in 1904, but now there are designated spaces for each of the many managerial types who infest academia today. Conspicuously, none seemed to be for actual teachers or students.
In the main entrance foyer with the stairway leading up to managerial offices
Inside the old building, its grand stair case leads strait to a plaque commemorating the laying of the foundation stone by “the governor of the colony” on 2nd August, 1904. The college’s motto “Sapientia Magis Auro Desideranda” translates as “Wisdom is more desirable than gold”. I fear our country has lost sight of this.
Stairs to where?
There was a conference occurring in the council chamber, so I felt constrained from making pictures in the grandest space in the building. When the college was founded, the present council chamber was the library. However, I enjoyed the challenges posed by that main staircase. Fortunately this is not Hogwarts, so the staircases don’t move.
… and back down again
Going up or coming down the quality of the plaster work and detailed finishing is admirable. I mentioned the lack of air conditioning, and if you look behind the pot plant on the left you can see one of the cast iron hot water radiators that are the only concession to Wellington’s dismal winters.
There’s a big wide world out there
Each time I visit, I feel the distance between myself and the institution widening. I suppose most tertiary institutions are moving away from their traditions towards a more corporate and managed environment. All the signs prohibiting this or that conform to a corporate branding manual and I feel a little sad.
That’s all for today.
*”A Handsome Pile: The Story of the Hunter Building” published by Victoria University of Wellington, 1995
My wandering took me up the hill to the Kelburn campus of Victoria University of Wellington.
Ground floor entrance to the Easterfield building
It is likely that the passing of my friend Gary was the subconscious cause. I have not a single regret about retirement, but on the other hand, I have some memories of happy times with some good people. And of course, there were people who were total nightmares, but time draws a veil across them. I started at the Easterfield building where my last Kelburn office was located.
Interior of the Hub
Behind the Easterfield building, there used to be “The Quad”. Despite its famous architect, it was a windswept grey concrete wasteland worthy of the most totalitarian regimes. It was a place where the smokers used to gather, so it, and all the doorways leading from it smelled like ashtrays. It was bleak, but the food kiosk in the corner had a steady clientele. Most people crossed the Quad as quickly as possible except when there was an event on. Now known as “The Hub”, the space is enclosed, well lit, warm, colourful and has become a place where a lot of serious study occurs. There are meeting rooms around its edges and on the upper floor. There is still a multi-level terrace as there was in the old Quad, but this is cushioned by bright soft cushions. This view of the space is from the first floor elevator lobby in Easterfield building. I think the column at the left is approximately where the kiosk used to be.
Rankine-Brown and the Hub
I went outside and stood on the access ramp to the Old Kirk building and looked back to the Rankine-Brown (library) building and the exterior of the Hub is the black building to the right. Easterfield would be to the right of that again.
Following the road behind the library, between the Cotton Building and the recreation Centre brings you to the staff carpark from which are some great views over the inner city and harbour.
Many more shots were taken but the last one I shall use today is of the “Cotton Street” … perhaps the least changed of the places I wandered. Admittedly the occupants of some of the rooms have changed, and the somewhat geometric bay window meeting space known as “the Octagon” has gone.
Apologies for the self-indulgence and the somewhat mixed memories.
The parliamentary office building known as the beehive.
Yesterday I had lunch with a friend and former colleague from university. On the way there, “the Beehive”, inspired if not actually designed by the architect, Sir Basil Spence was in front of me. A little twist of the zoom ring during a low exposure produced an interesting result.
It seems appropriate that this fleet of black and yellow bumblebees should park so near the Beehive
I was a little early so my friend invited me to wait in his office while he dealt with some university administration. He has a good view over the harbour, and a somewhat quirky view onto the Wellington Bus terminus. As I said earlier this week, I like the block colours.
A bright day in Stout Street
After a pleasant lunch, I was returning to my car and the architecture on Stout Street seemed worth a look. That blue sky was great too.
Welcoming speech by the president of the PSNZ. The fluoro jackets are worn by members of the convention committee.
In the evening, I was at the opening of a regional convention for the Photographic Society of New Zealand. Ours was the host club, and I am happy to say it has got off to a fine start, though the people staying in the on-site accommodation were disconcerted by the lack of hot water in their showers, The conference venue had forgotten to turn the water heater on. A friend from Karori who is a regular reader originally appeared in this image but I cropped it to protect his privacy.
Past their best, but the tulips are still worth looking at
Again, I followed my nose, and for some reason it decided to lead me on a roundabout path to Victoria University’s Kelburn Campus and the Mount St cemetery. On the way, it took me past the Botanic gardens. The tulips must have peaked at least a week ago and were now mostly “blown”, but there were still some vivid blocks of colour.
Where has the old Quad gone? The replacement has upholstered seating and you could it there in shirtsleeves in mid winter.
I passed through the village at Kelburn, and came down Kelburn Parade and paused to revisit old haunts. There was a time when I knew the campus intimately, but just three years after my official retirement, it is now an alien landscape. At Kelburn, especially, the barren wind-swept ash-tray that was “the Quad” has been replaced by a superb new student centre called “the Hub”. And now all of Victoria’s campuses are smoke-free. For any alumni reading this, the building to the left is Rankine-Brown (the library) and on the right, Easterfield. I had my back to the Old Kirk building as I took the shot.
At the top of Mount St Cemetery
Behind Rankine-Brown, where the footpath passes down between the Student Union and the old Mount St Cemetery, there is a new rest area with seats overlooking the city, and in front of it, some of the historically important monuments in the cemetery have had a splendid facelift.
The building through the trees on the right is the Student Union. At the top of the hill, the library. Apparently some still use books. However, there are many computer terminals in there now.
Wandering down through the cemetery, things are much as they always were, with many neglected tombstones in dire need of restoration. Nevertheless, I suspect that, as always, there are all kinds of activities in this consecrated area that are not usually compatible with a cemetery. I guess any of the permanent occupants will be winking and looking the other way.