Review: The Hobbit Companion

It’s not by chance that John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s was the setting that would become the default template for the popular notion of high-fantasy; no arbitrary circumstance that led to Tolkien’s intricately-crafted argot becoming the lingua franca of the sword-and-sorcery genre as it’s commonly understood today. Tolkien, with his fellow Inkling and understudy in Christianity […]

Notional Significance: Halfway

[See all Notional Significance posts] On one side: the beige of townhouses; the hermetic whiteness of Fletcher Construction’s offices; the twee comforts of a garden centre. On the other: a wall of greenery, smugly settled exotics looming over dense indigenous undergrowth and the raw-cut clay below. Hard-won colonialism congeals into aspirational heritage, but with a psychogeographical […]

Notional Significance: Downstream

[See all Notional Significance posts] My narrative has been marooned in Johnsonville for over eight months, a fate that, if not actually worse than death, is perilously close to it. In fact, it is exactly a year since I walked this section of road, and last week’s remembrance was the spur I needed to get […]

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 […]