Notional Significance: Up and Under

[See all Notional Significance posts] The path sidles away from the road. To my left, and indeed to almost everyone’s left, is Wellington’s radical headquarters, 128 Abel Smith St. It’s well over three years since the shattering dawn when police smashed down the door, seeking evidence of so-called “terror camps”, but the Urewera 18 are […]

Notional Significance: Resistance

[See all Notional Significance posts] I weave through concrete islands and metal barriers to the edge of the Basin Reserve. Just inside the fence is a monument to William Wakefield: as an abduction accomplice, mercenary, principled duelist and city father, he was the marginally more respectable of the Wakefield boys. The memorial is supposed to […]

Notional Significance: Underground

[See all Notional Significance posts] As I approach the tunnel mouth, I can’t help but notice the looming cliff to my right. I try to imagine the promised/threatened second tunnel, and the impact that its eastern portal will have on the landscape. I envision a giant tunnel-boring mole bursting from the mountainside, like one of […]

Notional Significance: Isthmus

It’s a given: New Zealand is a young land. But this infant isthmus, earthquake-raised, has already suffered abuses and transformations that have left it far from tender. If psychogeography is, as Iain Sinclair says, “a way of psychoanalysing the psychosis of the place in which I happen to live”, then this place will be on […]

Notional Significance: Takeoff

National significance begins with a roundabout: from the air it looks like a navel, the axis of the world, the green Omphalos where one begins. But what is beginning here? There’s a distinct impression that more traffic comes from the eastern suburbs via Broadway than from the airport itself, which would make this a somewhat […]

Notional Significance: Flyer

Before reaching the starting point of the journey, I need to take a preliminary journey, from something resembling the heart of the city to the start of the highway: the airport. That in itself tells us something about just where cities fit into the whole “National Significance” agenda. A city is never an end in […]

Notional Significance

Allow me to introduce, not myself exactly, but the little series of posts that the Wellingtonista people have kindly allowed me to publish here. “Notional Significance” will be somewhere between travel writing, history, psychogeography and personal reflection, based upon walking the length of Wellington’s stretch of State Highway 1. The concept may sound familiar. I […]