Winding through Te Urewera Forest Park, the old road is being widened and seal laid. The slips and erosion keep coming.
“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature” – Frank Lloyd Wright
She lives, loves and breathes with us humans scurrying across her skin; picking and digging, burning and resurfacing, encouraging pustules and infected sites where greed overtakes understanding and empathy.
Finally something happened close at hand to speak to the masses, to hit home both figuratively and literally. She shook herself with unanticipated fury at an unexpected location last year; taking those who thought they knew by surprise; and again and again since then, locally shaking our whole complacency in our understanding of her mantle. The effects have been far reaching – in a country as relatively unpopulated as New Zealand our connections with those directly affected are certainly mostly within two degrees of separation. And yet we continue to ignore the warnings.
Time and again, without appearing to learn, we continue to believe that we can tame the Lady; bend her to our will; feeling that the signs can be ignored without peril. Forcing cuttings into steep countryside to widen roads and increase traffic loadings, reshaping river banks in attempts to foil erosion impacting on them too; building with blatant disregard for the natural landform and history. Monoculture – pine trees sternly marching across the landscape, seeding themselves under the protection of the native bush, to sour the earth below and discourage all but the master race. Farming systems devoted to greater and greater inputs for increased production; always further, forward, upward. Cities reaching higher and wider, forcing themselves upon the landscape to fit the confines of town planning systems. But at what cost?
If we don't start to listen, to learn and to undo; Herself will make the warnings greater and less able to ignore at greater cost to the land, families, businesses and economies.
Spending the last few months in the relative isolation of Ruatahuna has crystallised the need in me to honour Papatuanuku and consider our role of kaitiaki of the environment. The air out there is clear, the poplulation of trees more than ample to purify what toxins are produced by the relatively sparce human presence. The air out there is clear, too, of the static of large scale human poplulation; traffic and industry noise. I am constantly amazed to come back to town in the weekends and find myself assaulted by the continual noise of modern human existence, aware that not since industrialisation have humans gathering in any proximity in cities been free of this. But even there can be seen the inroads of the colonialists, albeit not without resistance of the local population.
There is a place on the road, not far from the location of this photograph, that I have identified as a portal; a place where one seems to enter a different dimension. A parallel existence. Frequently, as we head back to the citified existence, we find around this area a barrier to our departure one way or another. Odd. Noteworthy. It has made me become more aware of the nature of the place and want to start documenting what I see, particularly related to the concept that no matter how much we fight against nature, it is so easy and quick for her to take back what we have altered and appropriated.
The notion of a different dimension has had me referring to the early colonialist painters and photographers for inspiration. Although time is not the only change that is apparent, the pictorialist/romantic visions of the early artists/photographers makes me think of them as operating in another dimension also when they viewed the NZ landscape. It was a landscape alien to them, they could have been on another planet. This documentary landscape perspective is new for me, I have much to learn. This is a beginning.