20 September 2005

Depressions and highs

The election's over, but the outcome isn't clear; a deep depression hit New Zealand during the last couple of days; and I'm on the road again and feeling high. I cleared everything—the image files for printing; the editing; those last-minute odds and ends—with time to spare; time to enjoy with friends. Now I'm off to the South Island.

The depression was a weather system rather than a psychological state, although some people might feel otherwise. From my perspective, the next week or two until the special votes are counted feels less like a sense of relief and more like time out, but at least the prospect of the country's decline towards a reward-the-rich, beat-the-poor society, where anyone not “mainstream”1 must conform, emigrate or die, seems less likely. At least for the time being.

But enough ranting! Although I still had some image files left to process, I knew I'd get them done in time, so I felt no guilt about joining the celebration for Paul's 40th birthday on Sunday afternoon. A bonus was the venue—The Waterford's a lovely, Celtic cafe/bar only a few km from my place in the Pohangina Valley. I arrived to find it crammed with people and the music about to start. Guitars, fiddle, harp, bodhrain... Willy, having heard that Duncan would be playing, had brought the handmade, wooden Irish flute he'd bought years ago and still couldn't play. Later in the session, Duncan played a beautiful, haunting, piece on Willy's flute, accompanied by Tony's quiet guitar. If that doesn't inspire Willy to get his act together and start learning how to play it, nothing will.

Outside, cold rain; inside, warmth—literal and figurative. It's occasions like that; people enjoying the moment, talking, listening, laughing, sharing; that go so far towards making us human. I suspect you could have found the entire political spectrum inside the Waterford that Sunday afternoon, yet, in that environment, political differences meant nothing. As the election's outcome becomes clearer, I'll be reminding myself of that.

1 As far as I can work out, it seems to exclude women, Maori, anyone in any form of unmarried relationship, anyone receiving any State welfare benefit... well, anyone other than white, wealthy, middle-aged men. Here's Anne Else's view—highly recommended ( and entertaining in a bitter sort of way).

Photo and words copyright 2005 Pete McGregor

11 September 2005


I was photographing the NZ Ultimate Frisbee National Championships on Saturday, on a beautiful Spring day. Unfortunately, the champs were being held in the indoor arenas... At lunchtime I wandered outside and found a rugby match in progress—it was a game between Manawatu and Taranaki, but I'm not sure of the grade.

With so much glorious sunlight
around, I decided to take a few photos, mostly for the sake of enjoying the ease of taking them: the poor and horribly-coloured light indoors had been frustrating me intensely. I got a few nice action shots, but this was my favourite—the ref had just pinged this Taranaki player for a head-high tackle. Obviously the player felt hard done by... The subsequent shot at goal was successful.

I'd like to have something more profound to say, but I don't. I seem to be in one of those periods when so much is happening, when there's so much to think about, that concentrating on one issue somehow seems like ignoring others, which may be more important. The problem is that I don't know if they're really more important because I haven't thought enough about them. Something of a conundrum, really (actually, I suspect it's not so much a conundrum as an excuse).

But maybe it's also that I have so much on right now. This is shaping up to be the week from hell: more photos to process; another OutsideIn session to photograph and process; the image files for the exhibition to select and prepare; and, I'm contract editing again. Might be some late nights coming up. Like this one.

Oh yes, as I mentioned several weeks ago, there's an election on Saturday. We get to have our say about our Government for the next three years. As is the case with most elections, the proliferation of cynicism, spin, attempted vote-buying and mendacity depresses me, but it's the refusal of most parties1 to address the really important issues that's the worst feature. For example, while the price of petrol is rocketing, both major parties are promising to build a new motorway in Auckland; moreover, they're arguing over how fast it can be built. And National's even saying they'll scrap the proposed carbon tax. Presumably their logic is that the more we use our vehicles and the less we care about global warming, the faster the planet will heat up and, consequently, the less we'll have to pay in heating bills.

I dunno. It would be easy to just switch off and pretend the whole thing was just a bad dream. But it isn't; it's real; and the only switching off I intend doing will be intended to conserve energy, not as a tacit mandate for irresponsible politicians.

1 But not all. You shouldn't have to think too hard to realise which parties have actively campaigned for human rights, peace and justice. And if you want to see how the parties stack up regarding their environmental policies, check out this site. Finally, if you're overseas, here's how you can vote.

Photo and words copyright 2005 Pete McGregor