Friday, February 06, 2009


When I saw Carmi's Thematic Photographic topic for the week, "down", I thought of these two photos.

I've lived nearly half my life in Christchurch now, but I grew up in Wellington. The two cities are topographically very different. Scenes like this are one of the things I miss about Wellington - heading down some narrow path between houses, entering a dark shady tunnel, and then suddenly emerging to wonderful views of the city and harbour. (I miss walking up these paths a lot less than I miss walking down them).

The photos in their turn reminded me of a poem. This is the first stanza of Bernadette Hall's poem, Wai-Te-Ata. I haven't asked her, but I believe the title comes from Wai-Te-Ata Road, which isn't too far from where I took the photos.

Who is lighter than a woman walking
down into a gully, her head level
with the pohutukawa trees,
slipping into the smokey foliage
as if into a dress in a beautiful window?

You will find the whole poem in her book The Ponies.

And here is the pohutukawa (another thing I miss about Wellington, they are less common this far south).


Mojo said...

My folks made a trip to New Zealand right after my mom retired. Not sure if they made it to Christchurch or not, but I know they spent some time in Wellington. From the time I can remember that was my dad's dream destination. And when mom retired, she had to take a distribution from her retirement account, so she ponied up for the trip. Good thing she did it when she did too. Dad took sick about a year after that and while he kept going for another 4 years, it would've been difficult for him to make a trip like that later.

I can see from the photos on your blog and others why dad was so keen to go there.

Light and Voices said...

I haven't ever seen a pohutukawa plant before. Glad you posted that on your blog. Nice clear photographs.

Pip said...

Having grown up in Auckland, all the pedestrian accessways waiting to be explored are one of my favourite things about Wellington! I too love the Pohutukawa. We have two on our property and our Eastern-facing windows look down onto a huge one in the street below. Unfortunately they are actually a pest in the Wellington region. They are not native here (they belong further north) and cross-breed with the related (and native to this region) Rata, threatening the purity of the Rata species.

Kay Cooke said...

Thanks for this perspective - I love Wellington too - but Dunedin's a little like a mini Welly so that's something.
I must buy Bernadette's book - keep meaning to - it's on the list!!!

MamaCta! said...

I love your pictures. They make me wish I could pop thru somehow and walk down those paths myself....
Great contribution to the theme!

20th Century Woman said...

I lived in Wellington for a year when I was 13, in 1945-46. I can't at the moment remember the name of the street, though I have traveled back from the USA to look a few times recently. It was up the hill above the Monestery, and I used to stand on the back fence and watch ships come in and out of the harbour. I went to the Marsden school, so I walked through the city and took the cable car. It is very different now.

leonie.wise said...

beautiful shots and a lovely poem. i miss wellington too.

i keep asking myself at the moment why the h*ll we are living in london!!

hope all is well in nz