Southern Writers at Te Awe Brandon Library – 20 Oct 2020

From the Wellington City Library blog:


Image shows books by poets taking part in the Southern Writers event
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20 October 2020
Te Awe Library – 29 Brandon Street
12.30pm to 2pm
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Join the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2763822373868512/

This event inaugurates the Te Awe event space, with six fine poets and prose writers giving a very special lunch time reading. All hail from Dunedin or Southland.

They are:

Kay McKenzie Cooke, Richard Langston, Tim Jones, Nick Ascroft, Madison Hamill and Jenny Powell, with Mary McCallum reading some of the late Elizabeth Brooke-Carr’s work.

So why not take this rare opportunity, grab your lunchtime sandwiches or buy one from the Te Awe café, and enliven your lunch listening to some of New Zealand’s finest poets reading from their works. Enjoy.

Hop across to the Wellington City Library blog for further details of the poets and their latest books!

Images of authors taking part in the Southern Writers events

Bougainville Library Project Book Fair This Weekend

There’s a book fair being held this weekend in Wellington to raise funds for a library in Bougainville on behalf of the Bougainville Library Project.

The book fair runs from 10am-4pm on Sat 6 November and Sun 7 November at the Portrait Gallery, Shed 11 , Wellington Waterfront.

The Bougainville Library Project also has a Facebook page.

This book fair sounds like a win all the way round for book lovers and for Bougainville, so I hope that, if you’re in Wellington, you’ll be able to make it along.

Writing Past Each Other? Literary Translation and Community

I was sent information about this conference by the organisers, who asked me to pass it on to people who may be interested – and what better place to do that than this blog? In particular, the organisers are keen to publicise the call for papers, which closes on 31 March.

As someone with an interest in the translation of poetry, I am especially interested in the sessions they are planning on poetry and translation, which are being organised by poet Chris Price:

As a special feature of the conference, we are also organising translation workshop sessions with noted New Zealand poets (participants should pre-register; details to come). There will also be an evening reading session.

Here is the full announcement. For other details, e.g. how to register, please check out the conference web site.

Writing Past Each Other? Literary Translation and Community International Conference in Literary Translation

Victoria University of Wellington
11-13 December 2010

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:
Lawrence Venuti
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Announcement and Call for Papers

Metge and Kinloch (Talking Past Each Other: Problems in Cross-Cultural Communication, 1978), explore the ways in which those from diverse backgrounds misread important cultural differences in everyday life.

At this conference we hope to explore how literary translation promotes awareness and appreciation of such differences, while simultaneously creating a sense of community across local and international boundaries, or how a lack of such exchange can contribute to the isolation of literary cultures: how is globalisation affecting international literary exchange? how might translation contribute more to literary communities?

While papers on how these issues are articulated in the Asia-Pacific region are especially welcome, we also encourage paper proposals on a wide range of topics related to practical and theoretical aspects of literary translation and covering cross-cultural linguistic interaction from across the globe. Panel proposals (3 to 4 speakers) are especially welcome. Conference papers are to be delivered in English, but may relate to any of the world’s languages.

As a special feature of the conference, we are also organising translation workshop sessions with noted New Zealand poets (participants should pre-register; details to come). There will also be an evening reading session.

Please send abstracts (title of paper, name of presenter, 250 word outline and a short (50 word) bio-bibliographical note) by 31st March 2010 to NZCLT (at) vuw.ac.nz. We plan to publish selected papers from the conference in a refereed volume. Conference attendees wishing to have their papers published should submit them by 31st January 2011 for consideration.

Seminar: Electric Vehicles and Electric Transport in New Zealand: 2010 and Beyond

The Annual General Meeting of the Sustainable Energy Forum (SEF) on 6 November will mark the end of my three-year term as Convenor of SEF. While I’ve enjoyed the role, I’m looking forward to being able to spend more time working directly on the issues, and less time organising things.

But the final thing I have to organise is the seminar below. SEF held a similar seminar in 2007, and the 2009 seminar will look at how far things have moved in the world of electric transport since then, and whether those moves are welcome.

You don’t have to be an expert, or a fan of electric vehicles, to attend. Pretty much everyone has an opinion on transport. If you do, or if you’d just like to learn more, please come along.

Sustainable Energy Forum Seminar

Electric Vehicles and Electric Transport in New Zealand: 2010 and Beyond

When:
Friday 6 November, 12.30-2pm

Where: Large Gallery, Turnbull House, 11 Bowen St, Wellington

Admission: By koha

Can we switch our transport system from burning fossil fuels to using electricity? If so, how quickly will it happen, and how much difference will it make to New Zealand’s oil dependence and to greenhouse gas emissions from transport?

The Sustainable Energy Forum (SEF) is holding a seminar in Wellington on Friday 6 November to talk about these issues. Speakers will discuss developments in electric vehicle technology, the opportunities and difficulties in marketing electric vehicles, and the effect that widespread use of electric transport is likely to have on New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.

There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.

If you’re interested in transport, vehicle technology, green jobs, oil depletion, or climate change, you’ll find something of interest in this SEF Seminar.

Presentations

Tim Jones: Using Electricity for Transport: An Overview
Seminar chair Tim Jones will make a brief introductory presentation outlining the range of electric transport options now available.

Doug Clover: Recent Developments in Electric Vehicle Technology
Researcher Doug Clover will look at recent trends in the performance and cost of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and current and emerging developments in electric vehicle battery technology.

Hayden Scott-Dye: Understanding Electric Vehicles in New Zealand
Hayden Scott-Dye of Meridian Energy will present an overview of the Mitsubishi iMiEV evaluation and some of its key results, the benefits of adopting and accelerating the deployment of electric vehicles in NZ, and some of the key challenges going forward.

Steve Goldthorpe: Greenhouse Consequences of Electric Vehicles in New Zealand – An Assessment Framework

Energy analyst Steve Goldthorpe will set out the assumptions required to assess the impact on the CO2 emissions per person kilometer of personal travel associated with an individual’s switch from a conventional vehicle to an electric vehicle, and explore the sensitivities of key parameters.

Updates will be posted at http://www.sef.org.nz/conferences.html#2009

Fifty Yards from Middle Earth

A flashback to 2000, and the filming of The Lord of the Rings in Wellington …

I first beheld Arwen Undómiel at the test cricket. It wasn’t quite the depths of Mordor, but the weather in March 2000 would have done justice to the dead marshes at Sauron’s gates. A thin cold air was blowing across the Basin Reserve, the main cricket ground in Wellington, New Zealand, the city where Peter Jackson was busy filming the three books that make up The Lord of the Rings.

It was New Zealand versus Australia in the test, and New Zealand was in trouble. I took my seat at the northern end, well rugged up and prepared for disappointment, and settled back to watch the play. After a few minutes, I noticed a steady stream of young girls making their way to a cloaked figure seated a few rows below me and asking her for autographs. “Do you know who that is?” I asked the man sitting nearest to me. “We’ve been wondering the same thing ourselves,” he replied. “We think it might be Anna Paquin.”

But I wasn’t convinced. Anna Paquin, Wellington-born star of The Piano, X-Men etc., was living in the US if my mental showbiz map was up to date. “I think it might be Liv Tyler,” I whispered back. For once, I was right. Accompanied by her British boyfriend, and Bernard Hill who plays Theoden, the woman who would give up her immortality to marry Aragorn was spending an afternoon at the cricket.

She picked a good day for it, too, despite the weather: after the usual clatter of New Zealand wickets, Chris Cairns, he of the flowing locks and mighty thews, smote the Australian bowling hither and yon on his way to a rapid century. It made no difference to the result, but even in bitter defeat the memories were glorious.

By the time I left the ground, Arwen Evenstar and her party had already departed, leaving behind only empty chip pottles, Coke cans, and blessed memories of Elvenhome.

I live five minutes’ walk from the Basin Reserve, so I probably have more opportunities to watch cricket than Liv Tyler does. More to the point, it’s a 50-yard walk from our house in Ellice St to the Wellington Town Belt, where several scenes in The Lord of the Rings were filmed.

The Town Belt is a narrow but quite convincing strip of forest clinging to either side of the long ridge that slopes down from Mt Victoria to the north, and runs all the way to the southern coast at Island Bay. Some of the forest is regenerating New Zealand bush, some is introduced pine forest planted in the mid-20th century. It is gloomy beneath the pines, and when the wind blows the treetops whisper together of ancient wrongs. Something has made tracks, but they start and stop unexpectedly, and it takes a steady head and a stout heart to follow their many twists and turns without becoming hopelessly lost.

Even better, there’s a quarry above the top of Ellice St. Not a Blake’s 7-style gravel pit, but a real hard rock quarry, abandoned about the same time the trees were planted, with towering walls clad here in twisted bramble, there in flowering creeper, and trees overhanging the top and sides. What with the forest, the quarry, and some judicious post-production, you could film a movie up there, and Peter Jackson was faced with filming three movies back to back.

Jackson, the Wellington film director who first came to fame with the low budget (NZ $30,000) splatter-comedy film Bad Taste, was the director chosen by New Line Cinema to take on the daunting task of directing a film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Unlike Ralph Bakshi’s disappointing 1978 version, which used rotoscoping over live actors to produce a crude form of animation, the Peter Jackson production combines live action with the state-of-the-art effects developed over the years by Jackson and his cohorts at Weta Workshop.

And, with the whole of the country to choose from, filming started in the forest near our quarry and ended a year later, in December 2000, in the quarry itself. In between, sets were built and filming done all over New Zealand — inland Canterbury for Edoras, the rolling hills of the Waikato for Hobbiton, the North Island volcanic plateau for Mordor, another quarry in Lower Hutt for Helm’s Deep.

In contrast to the saturation coverage given to the announcement of the project and the arrival of its stars in Wellington, the actual filming was characterised by a secrecy bordering on paranoia. My son Gareth and I realised that filming had started when we went for a walk to the top of the ridge above the quarry and discovered that tracks normally reserved for walkers had been scoured by ATVs (all-terrain vehicles — take a motorbike and give it four wheels, and you’ve got the general idea). Three portaloos had been installed next to Alexandra Road, which runs along the ridgeline through the Town Belt. The game was afoot.

The Evening Post newspaper gave us the official word that filming had started a few days later, but by then we’d also seen the horse-droppings, and were not surprised to learn that a small party of hobbits had been fleeing Black Riders through the twisted foliage, take after take after take. Peter Jackson likes to get things right.

In the next twelve months, Lord of the Rings was everywhere. Stars buying houses for the duration of the shoot pushed up house prices in the eastern suburbs to ridiculous levels. Sir Ian McKellen, who plays Gandalf, was a judge for Mr Gay Wellington. A couple of the hobbits were refused entry to a nightclub because they were underage. The original Aragorn was sacked and a replacement, the multi-talented Mr Viggo Mortensen, was announced. The Evening Post was banned from the film’s set for being too curious and began to collaborate with various unofficial LoTR websites to ferret out unauthorised information.

For a couple of days in mid-shoot, the floor of the Ellice St. quarry was dotted with dead branches and clumps of tussock grass, and used for some second-unit shots. If you watch The Fellowship of the Ring, you’ll get a glimpse of the Black Riders crossing the Ellice St quarry floor as they advance on Weathertop.

Just before filming was scheduled to finish we got a notice in our mailbox to say that Jackson’s Three Foot Six Limited film company would be filming in the quarry for three days in late December 2000, and that our cooperation as affected residents would be appreciated. Based on others’ experiences, I didn’t think this would lead to great viewing opportunities. Gareth was attending morning kindergarten, and on the Monday, apart from asking a truck to move so I could get the car out, filming had little impact on us. On the Tuesday, when we got home from the kindy, Gareth said he wanted to go and look at the movie being made. “I’m sure they won’t let us see anything,” I said, but we walked to the top of the street anyway.

To be met by a guard. I was all ready to turn away when he said “Would you and the little boy like to see the filming?” We said we would, and he led us up to the quarry floor. A trench had been cut in it, and the riders of Rohan were riding their horses down the trench, around a tent, and then back up onto the quarry floor. They did it once. They did it again. We watched them do it several times, then we went home, happy and surprised.

On Wednesday, the last scheduled day of filming, it rained all day. Thursday dawned fine, and Gareth and I decided that we’d walk home together from his kindy — a half-hour walk up the far side of the ridge and down the Mt Victoria side, past the quarry, to our house. Quite a walk for a four-year-old, but he has strong legs.

Walking over to the kindy to get him, I saw activity at the quarry, but assumed it was preparations to dismantle the set. Forty-five minutes later, however, as Gareth and I descended homewards past the quarry, it was plain that filming was continuing. Still, we needed to get home, and I didn’t intend to take the long way round. I said as much to the first security guard we saw, and he assured me we wouldn’t have to. “Just walk quietly, please.” So we did, and stopped when the action started, and saw a bearded gentleman — I won’t be sure who till I see The Return of the King — stare straight at us and say “Six thousand spears — it’s not enough.” “It’ll do fine,” I wanted to tell him, but I kept my mouth shut.

That was almost it. They did pack up the next day, and dismantled the artificial forest they’d made under the quarry walls, and eventually filled in the trench and reseeded the grass so that the quarry floor could resume its former role as a dog exercise area and occasional venue for family cricket games. Filming was over, and the stars went home. Neither my wife Kay nor I were invited to the premiere of The Fellowship of the Ring, but we’ve each seen it twice. Gareth’s a bit young to see it on the big screen. He’ll have to wait till the video comes out.

Gareth and I still walk in the Town Belt. The droppings has been trampled underfoot by now, and the paths have mostly resumed their former shape, but there are still one or two places where the scouring of the land is obvious. One day, I expect, we’ll see a glint of gold. Bending down, we’ll find a little ring, the least of rings, lying forsaken by the path. We’ll drive out to Seatoun and drop it off at Peter Jackson’s studios, if the guard will let us through the gate.

An earlier version of this article was printed as “‘Twas in the Depths of Mordor” in the fanzine Head, edited by Christina Lake and Douglas Bell. In its present form, it first appeared on the (now defunct) Silveroak Books website.

Wellington

City of contradictions
made and menaced by the sea:
how to contain you?
You spring out of your box.
A wind
blows you over and over the hills.

This poem is included in my latest collection, All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens.

Stupid, Wasteful, and Dangerous

Last night I attended a public meeting to oppose plans by the Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington, and Transit New Zealand to “solve” central Wellington’s transport problems by building more roads and digging new road tunnels, despite the considerable body of evidence (such as this report) that shows this approach does nothing but induce more traffic onto the roads, thus causing further congestion.

I was peripherally involved in organising the meeting, and I’ll be making a submission on the issue. I went along hoping the meeting would go well, and it did: we got over 100 people, lots of whom stayed around afterwards to offer help with the campaign. But the meeting did something I didn’t expect: it made me angry.

Not angry at the presenters, but angry at Wellington’s transport planners who, year after year, decade after decade, trot out the same “solution” to the problem earlier “solutions” have helped to create. Despite the massive contribution of private car transport to greenhouse gas emissions; despite the mismatch between the world production of oil and world oil demand, which is the underlying reason behind high oil prices, and which will only get worse as oil production peaks and then declines; despite the body of research which shows that there are better ways of solving transport problems; despite all that, these planners repeat their mantra that we have to build more roads to take more cars.

There’s some extenuating circumstances. New Zealand’s bizarre transport funding rules mean that local government can get central government to pay for 100% of certain roading projects, but only 50% of non-roading projects. Wellington’s Mayor has openly said that road tunnels are essential, no matter what comes out of the public consultation process. There’s a whole heap of construction companies eager to put on the hard hats and the fluorescent jackets one more time and let the asphalt flow out and the money roll in. And, of course, by no means are all transport planners stuck in the past.

But in an era when climate change and oil depletion are both accelerating, when cities overseas are moving away from the private car, when transport alternatives are available, to keep pushing the same old failed solution is stupid. It’s wasteful – roads are massively expensive to build, more expensive than the alternative options. And it’s dangerous, because it fails to face up to the reality of our urgent energy and environmental problems, and diverts resources that should be spent on tackling those problems.

It’s stupid, wasteful, and dangerous. And it has to stop.

• Reports of the meeting by Matt Bartlett (PDF) and Eye of the Fish.
Make a submission (deadline is 22 February) and read the planning report

Poem for a Windy Night

Wind Walks the Hand

Wind walks the hand over rooftops
searching for gaps.

Through the hole in the flashing
the neighbourhood cat

traps the neighbourhood rat
in our attic.

Cries, scuffles.
Drawn-out, messy death.

A ceiling below
we look up from Buffy and wonder.

This poem is included in my latest collection, All Blacks’ Kitchen Gardens.