Notional Significance: Clearing

 [See all Notional Significance posts] The offramp leads me down into what, for want of a better term, I will call the heart of Johnsonville. The local RSA greets me with a Bofors gun and an ad for its eponymous restaurant (“Family Friendly Environment”). Along with the Salvation Army, Super Liquor, a service station and […]

Notional Significance: Gorge

[See all Notional Significance posts] The stretch of Hutt Rd from Kaiwarawhara to Ngauranga is a long, dry slog through an artificial valley. The western side is almost natural, covered by tenacious regeneration, but often cut, buttressed and battered to keep the slope from failing, occasionally sliced by gullies and roads that scrabble up to […]

Notional Significance: Reclamation

[See all Notional Significance posts] Kaiwharawhara is a node, a knot, a tangle of paths and histories. It’s where the eponymous stream meets the harbour, though quakes and reclamations have long since nudged the mouth seawards from its original position at the fault line, engulfing foreshore, shipwrecks and shellfish beds in the process. It’s where […]

Notional Significance: Skyway

[See all Notional Significance posts] The stretch of motorway that leaps out from the bluff was known in the Sixties as the “Kaiwarra-Thorndon Skyway”, incongruously combining the Jetsonian optimism of the term “skyway” with a mangled contraction of “Kaiwharawhara” that today would only be used by Pakeha blokes of a certain age. Both the skyway […]

Notional Significance: Gully

[See all Notional Significance posts] The path bends with the motorway, peeling away from the hills, presenting a widescreen panorama of residential Thorndon. I can see what remains of the gullies into which the highway has wedged itself: from the all-but-vanished Honeyman’s Gully (once a duelling ground for lawyers, then filled in for the less […]

Notional Significance: Disinterment

[See all Notional Significance posts] The entry to Bolton St cemetery is unremarkable: a gap in a white fence off a respectable street, a canopy of pines, plain crosses against a corrugated iron fence. But I know that I’m passing into a territory that would have the earth-magic wing of the psychogeographical movement panting with […]

Notional Significance: Concrete Archipelago

The path, from tilted field down into the motorway chasm, winds past richly-tagged garage walls and rear fences. In my mind, I think that Oak Park Avenue was once like this — dark brick, spalling concrete, crunching gravel, rusting corrugate — but I no longer trust my memory as anything other than a synthesis of sensations and […]

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 […]