River Men

This bridge was originally built to replace a flying fox that transported workers and materials between flax mills on opposite sides of the river. By the mid 1920’s the flax was gone, but there was sufficient vehicular and stock traffic to motivate the landowner to build a toll house on the town side of the river and open the bridge for public use. The government Minister of Works Bob Semple was so enraged at being made to pay a toll for a crossing in 1938 that he immediately despatched surveyors to begin preparations to build a replacement to what he called “this antique structure from a comic opera”. Nothing came of the newly laid surveying pegs for another thirty years. [Source]

 

Circuit Breakers

This 600 MW thermal power station has dominated its landscape since its construction in 1972, with a 198m high chimney – the second tallest structure in New Zealand – made from 16,400 tonnes of concrete, 1200 tonnes of reinforcing steel and almost 1,000,000 bricks. After its decommissioning in 2007, we visited four times to create this film. It was lit and guarded 24/7: the latter making for some tension; the former making for ideal conditions for shooting video and stills in the dead of night.

 

Bye Bye Tip Top

A longstanding employee of Tip Top’s bakery in Wellington succinctly documents personal and professional concerns in the year of its closure. A bakery had existed on the site since the early 1900s: originally Denhard Bakeries before the property and business were sold to George Weston Foods (NZ) in the 1950s. Tip Top’s shuttering of the plant appears to have been actioned swiftly. On Tuesday 30th September, 2008, staff were gathered and informed of the imminent closure, with the final bake coming less than three weeks later on Sunday 19th October.

 

 

Good Night, Nurse

In 1973, under the watch of Matron Grattan, this now-demolished former nurses’ home at Wellington Hospital operated by “standards of conduct . . . akin to those of personal freedom, co-operation and responsibility which are acceptable in a private home, yet with the extra consideration necessary due to the number of residents under one roof.” Lunch was served daily in the dining room between the hours of 12 midday until 1:15pm, and dinner from 5-6:30pm. Suitable frocks, skirts and slacks, and a scarf to cover any hair rollers in use, were required while dining, and nurses were directed “not to linger about in the front foyer in a dressing-gown”. By the end of the first decade of the 2000’s, several floors had been converted to hostel accommodation. Residents cooked their own meals in tiny kitchens on each floor, warnings were prominently displayed about cleaning up cooking messes and theft of food from the communal fridges, and the reception office appeared to have been equipped with a cricket bat for self-defence.

Demolition was swiftly carried out in February, 2019, with signs on the perimeter fence indicating a children’s hospital is to come.