Monday, December 21, 2015

A year of Wellington

Wellington is a city shaped by earthquakes both past and future. Even distant events affect it: it was the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010-11, and then the Seddon swarm of 2013, that caused many local buildings to be re-assessed on the basis of new engineering knowledge or the damage suffered. Most notably, the Town Hall has been out of commission for two years and labelled ‘earthquake prone’, that curious misnomer affixed by law outside many places of business that nonetheless remain open. Not our main civic building, however. That will remain closed for an as yet unspecified number of years.

It’s the land that is earthquake-prone, not our built environment, yet that ‘proneness’ frequently manifests itself as buildings disappearing because they are too costly to repair or bring up to the amended code. Some of them are immortalised in framed pictures on the top floor of the central library,

but any photographic catalogue of the life of the city will feature some of those sudden departures. This is how we lost St Cuthbert’s church in Berhampore, or the bridge that connected the library to the rest of the council.

A building adjacent to the newly built Pukehau Park had to go. I can’t remember what it looked like already.

While the GHQ Building across the road – a listed historical site – is slated for demolition. In February, it was visited by pigeons.

(They’ve been a thing of late, these pigeons. A somewhat lazier street artist provided a variation on the theme in Newtown this month.)

Of course, like in any other city, there are buildings and structures that are demolished or replaced for reasons other than calamity, creating new sight lines and temporary empty spaces. The state housing flats up the road are gone, replaced by a field.

So is the wind turbine in Brooklyn.

And this is the bit of sky where Neil Dawson’s fern globe sculpture used to be.

Some things are being preserved and restored to a previous function, like the community centre in the Centennial Flats.

Gratuitous link to the Berhampore Book post

And then there are the Kate Sheppard lights, that were never in danger of disappearing except a Mayoral hopeful thought it might help her cause to pretend that they were. Kate says: don’t vote for Nicola Young next year.

Some other pictures I took in Wellington in 2015. The city’s emblem (‘suprema a situ’), versus a new coffee shop.

In the Civic Square, whose architect – Ian Athfield – died this year.

Hibernian House, Willis Street.

House with buckets, Houghton Valley.

This year’s Artsplash at the Michael Fowler Centre, featuring hundreds of children (and my daughter).

A section of my partner’s suffrage-themed art installation in Central Park.


On Victoria Street.

Weetbix Nation.

Wright Ltd.

The pōhutukawa were especially beautiful last summer.

That seems a suitably seasonal image on which to finish. If you visited this blog in 2015, thank you for making the enterprise worthwhile. And if you’re running out of reading material, you can browse the Aotearoa Issue of Overland, which is now fully online. Or my latest on the Hager case over at The Pantograph Punch. Or that paper on disability in education that Hilary Stace and I wrote. Or if you're looking for a Christmas present for the discerning reader, you can buy this year's Tell You What. It was good to be involved in those things.

I’ll see you in the new year.


Anonymous said...

Buon Natale! Grazie delle letture interessanti. @duangjai

Anonymous said...

Buon Natale! Grazie delle letture interessanti. @duangjai P.S. "It’s the land that is earthquake-prone, not our built environment" - yes! One of my pet peeves :-)

Roberto said...

Oh this is lovely. One of my favourite things about Wellington is how its physical history fights back and pops up. Looking up in the central city provides a whole different world.

The Turbine in Brooklyn is coming back though and apparently Dawson is working day and night to sort out 'Ferns'. Dawson has been very good in the past at doing replacement works for very little money as well. Quite a civic minded sculptor.

Anonymous said...

I believe the wind turbine is being replaced with one bigger?

Giovanni Tiso said...

It is, much to the relief of my daughter for whom it's a hallowed feature of the local landscape.

Karl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karl W said...

I've always enjoyed "BENT's" pigeons works. Here's a useful article from last year backgrounding him a bit:

Stephanie said...

You have given me much to think about this year and I am grateful. Long may you continue. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Giovanni.