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It’s a spot like so many others around the world; a high spot, and deep water underneath.

When the temperature rises and the chilly southern waters become that bit more inviting, a crowd of teenagers can be found egging each other from the barrier.

Behind them is a two-way road that’s almost constantly busy with traffic. It’s below what counts. Jump off and it’s a few seconds flight before you hit the waters of the channel.

Over centuries and generations the tides and currents have dredged a deep, cold channel. There’s no fear of hitting the bottom. Only of chickening out and losing face in front of the gang.

The bridge spans the point where the two arms of Porirua Harbour meet. If you’ve not heard of it, don’t worry; Porirua is a manufacturing and dormitory suburb city about 20 minutes’ drive north of New Zealand’s capital Wellington. As a kid I went to school at the east end of the harbour, in a village called Pauatahanui (which in the Maori language means “the place of the large shellfish”). Inbetween lies a little town called Paremata – the place where the road and rail lines cross the harbour heading north. On a sunny day the bridge is always busy.

I crossed this bridge hundreds of times as a kid; but being a poor swimmer I never had the nerve to leap off the railings into the channel below. Officially you’re not supposed to – there are fishing and pleasure boats which pass beneath the bridge – but no-one bothers to get involved.

I’d taken my LOMO LC-A on a five-week trip to NZ back in 2015; I never seemed to have one with me when I’d travelled back, which was a bit of an oversight. So I made sure I had my LC-A and a handful of slide film to cross-process.

I waited for a nice hot sunny day – thankfully pretty common on this trip – and a crowd of kids egging each other on. I like this frame because of the one diver waiting his turn as the other leaps backwards into the sea.

It reminds me of home every time I see it, but this could be anywhere. Summer days and teenagers with nowhere to be.

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Stephen Dowling
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