Following The Science

Shot years before this agricultural research centre was stripped bare in preparation for demolition, this video documents the extraordinary amount of science equipment left behind, even as part of the vacated space was being repurposed as a site for the training of police dogs.


This large (by NZ standards) purpose built former tertiary institute expired at around the same time this Kodak Ektar 64T film did. And just like this 35mm expired film, it is apparently getting another lease of life. There are new owners and supposedly new occupants- but the only life we saw were some homies running their dogs (who tried to have a go at us); an alleged owner who asked what we were taking photos of (selfies of course) & told us to leave; and an elderly security guard who said- just leave. One of UC have a particular connection to this place, having kind of studied (sic) here when it was still a place of education- not stagnation.


This former quarantine station was first opened in 1872 for people arriving New Zealand with contagious diseases. The facilities were refurbished and extended in 1918-19 and were maintained in readiness until World War II (1939-45) but were little used. The accommodation blocks were used in both World War I and World War II to house interned “enemy aliens”. For over 100 years, beginning in the early 1880s, it also served as an animal quarantine station. Animals arriving in New Zealand from other countries were quarantined on the island for 30–60 days to check they were free of disease. Blood samples were taken regularly and tested. Each animal was also treated for internal and external parasites.

In 1971 this particular facility, a maximum security animal quarantine station was completed. Until then, New Zealand had only ever imported livestock from Britain, Australia and Canada. The idea of a maximum security animal station was to enable scientists and geneticists to study new exotic breeds from outside of these ‘safe’ countries. When the station received its first shipment of animals in March 1972, it was the most sophisticated facility of its kind in the world. This allowed for the importation of a more diverse range of exotic animals such as elk, red deer, alpaca and llama, and capacity to hold more of the traditional imported livestock. In 1985 a scheme was introduced to import ova and embryos of cattle, sheep, and goats for implantation into New Zealand livestock. This inadvertently lessened the need for quarantine stations. It meant that existing livestock lines could be diversified rather than relying on importing. The quarantine station was closed in 1995.

The Chem-Suit Kid

It’s not everyday you see someone walking along the street wearing a full NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) suit–  but today was one of those days. We turned the car around and followed the shuffling figure, thinking they must have just been let out for the day. As we got out of the car and approached, gesturing with the camera and asking if we could take photos, he said in a muffled voice “okay”. As it turned out he was a student from the local high school and must have been about 16 or 17. There had been some sort of costume day at school, and being a military buff he had decided to wear the full chem-suit to school. He explained (without taking the mask off) that he had purchased the suit/mask etc in Russia and that his family was from there and Ukraine (Odessa). Then he waddled off up the hill towards home…

Building compute

This 1930′s era totalisator building was a real joy to explore and document, thousands of people used to attend the race courses of New Zealand commuting by train for the big day. Now one of the last untouched buildings of its kind in New Zealand and  sitting idle as a pioneer of New Zealand’s computing history.

For the video of our explore :  Excitation

ill Institute

This purpose built institute- and accommodation halls- is now largely vacant and abandoned… Constructed in the early 1970s in typical Brutalist style- the imposing, totalitarian and fortress like qualities are not exactly an architecture form for aspiring students…


This former notorious rural psychiatric hospital- see this post-  was visited by one of our group back in 2008. The majority of the buildings then were mostly intact with minimum vandalism. Today many of the buildings have been demolished, with the remainder largely abandoned or used as storage. Incredibly though a number of the villa’s are now reoccupied, by apparently sane people.





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In Vivo

In vivo (Latin for “within the living”) is experimentation using a whole, living organism as opposed to a partial or dead organism. Animal testing and clinical trials are two forms of in vivo research.  On average around 300,000 animals per year are used in experimentation, testing and teaching in New Zealand – from cats and dogs to rabbits, deer, mice, rats, fish, birds, pigs, cows and guinea pigs. This particular former testing facility has been irresponsibly left to the ravages of time and vandalism, a haunting reminder of what we commit in the name of science.

Animal Testing Centre & Incinerator

This abandoned animal testing facility has been abandoned for about 20 years apparently, despite that there are no signs of graffiti. Syringes and other detritus still litter the site and the bones & feathers of the test subjects still sit in the now rusted incinerators.

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“Twelve five- to seven-day-old calves from a commercial dairy herd
were used in the trial. The herd had no contact with goats. The
calves had been fed pooled bovine colostrum that tested negative
for MmmLC. They were then transported to the Isolation Unit where they were housed indoors in two pens.
Six of the calves were dosed orally with MmmLC (5.4×1011 colony
forming units or cfu) and the following day four control calves
were placed with them in the same pen.
Six days later the two remaining calves were inoculated
intravenously (IV) with MmmLC (7×1010 cfu) and placed with the
other calves. The calves were monitored for clinical signs and their
temperatures were measured daily for the first 14 days.
Nasal swabs and blood samples were collected from the day of oral
inoculation (day 0) until the day each calf was euthanased (the last
ones on day 43). Nasal swabs were collected on days 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 and
at necropsy; blood samples weekly and at necropsy. Necropsies
were carried out at regular intervals during the trial (see table) and
samples taken from tonsil, retropharyngeal and mesenteric lymph
nodes, trachea, lung, spleen, pericardial fluid and joint fluid (stifle,
carpal and hip). Both fresh and fixed samples were collected.
The nasal swabs and tissues were cultured for MmmLC. The same
samples plus bloods were tested in the CAP-21 polymerase chain
reaction (PCR)(3) for Mycoplasma mycoides cluster. The nasal swabs
were also tested in a generic PCR for mycoplasma(4) on days 0 and 2.
Serum samples were tested in the M mycoides complement fixation
test (CFT) using whole cell antigen(6). Histopathology was carried
out on the formalin fixed tissues