New Zealand is a young country, at least as far as its European settlement is concerned.
There are few buildings more than 150 years old; the native Maori built in wood rather than stone, and the country was slowly settled, for decades little more than isolated sealing and whaling stations.
Buildings that might be unremarkable in Europe – under 100 years old – take on the status of venerated elders.
This Wesley Methodist Church was on Hillside Road in South Dunedin, one of the long, wide streets that seem built for a much larger city; Manhattan thoroughfares without the skyscrapers wither side. It was an imposing enough structure on an ordinary day, I’d imagine, but on a blazing hot summer’s day it seemed almost hallucinatory. (Note: I only just learned this wonderful old church was demolished in 2017, to something of a public uproar.)
Nowhere in New Zealand could be described as tropical, but Dunedin hosts a climate that must have made its Scottish settlers feel right at home. “Dunedin is cold/and by winter it’s going to get colder,” sang The Verlaines’ Graeme Downes on the song ‘Ready to Fly’. The Verlaines are part of the city’s musical mythology, a DIY music scene that spawned some of New Zealand’s most distinctive voices. It’s a scene practically marinated in damp student housing and thick black jumpers; you can almost hear the freezing rain sweeping in off the Southern Ocean.
Dunedin the summer of 2016 was something else entirely. The searing New Zealand Sun beat down. The colours became super-saturated, like a TV screen with the contrast stuck on high.
I shot this on my LC-A 120, loaded with Lomography’s Xpro Chrome 200, the last film that’s able to give that eye-popping cross-processed colour shift, at least until Kodak Ektachrome returns from the dead.
I waited on the other side of the street until the traffic cleared. Then I snapped a couple of frames.
If you lived in Dunedin you might pass this building a thousand times and not spare it a second glance; it just becomes part of the patchwork.
There’s something to be said for walking around with a fresh pair of eyes.