Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Triumphant 2300cc ... #71

This is Dave who I met on Saturday afternoon... out for a ride on his Triumph's 2300cc Rocket III ... and believe it or not there are about 30 of these in Wellington.

Now we do know that in America, there's big, and there's really big. A 20-ounce Coke is big; the 72-ounce "Bladder Buster" from the local Stop 'n' Rob is really big. The Ford Excursion is big; the Hummer H1 is really big. In the world of motorcycles, cruiser motorcycles in particular, the Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 is big--but the Triumph Rocket III is really big. Twenty-two hundred and ninety-four cubic centimeters big, to be exact. Just look at the size of that motor. (For comparison, our family car is a 1600cc Honda Jazz.) And with 147 foot-pounds of torque, it's also likely to be damn near the hardest accelerating production streetbike in the world (in a straight line, at least), if Triumph's press babble can be trusted. "God save the Queen", and don't forget the brave motorcycle road testers, too.

Why would Triumph, a characteristically reserved British company whose most ferocious cruiser to date has been the mild-mannered, 790cc Speedmaster, gut-whomp us with a motorcycle that outdisplaces most automobiles on the road today? In a word: respect. Triumph very much wants to make a big splash in the motorcycle market, and to do this it needs a big cruiser. Correction--it needs the biggest, baddest cruiser ever seen. More than 50 percent of all motorcycles sold in America are cruisers, the vast majority of these so-called "heavy cruisers" (over 1000cc). To make an impression saleswise on the U.S. market, you have to do it in this segment. With the Rocket III, Triumph cannonballs into the deep end ... and like I said before some have even made their way downunder to Wellington, NZ. Apparently the last shipment sold out within days ... LETS DO A ROAD TRIP !!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Wellywood ... #70

With Peter Jackson and the LOTR Trilogy, King Kong and other smaller budget movies ... Wellington has now become more movie friendly at the start end of the process. I came across this crew filming in Stout Street and Lambton Quay. They had been up since 5am getting gear ready, generators, track etc probably working all day to do 30 minutes shooting for 10 secs screen time.. thats the move business.

This was all going on while the general public went about their business shopping. The actors were all standing in position getting cold in the wind waiting for "ACTION"

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Stadium Nights ... #69

Well this is what the Westpac Stadium looks like at night from the Wadestown hill ... and inside it was even better ... a great night for the Wellington Lions.

Piri Weepu, our halfback, might have kept his counsel about his omission from the All Blacks World Cup squad, but he did a fair bit of talking last night. The sacked halfback had a commanding game in Wellington's 68-7 demolition of a hapless Otago in their Air New Zealand Cup match at Westpac Stadium.

Otago have got no star players, no chief executive and no Super 14 coach, and last night they had no answer to a Wellington side that was too big, strong, fast and slick. Wellington scored nine tries, crossing for three in the first half as they raced to a 28-7 halftime lead that was a pointer to the second-half flood.

Wing Shannon Paku oozed class when he carved through the Otago defence, showing in the process what a wasted talent he often is with the Hurricanes. Paku was back in the action early in the second half when he was driven over from a ruck a few minutes after flanker Chris Masoe had scored following a break by hooker Luke Mahoney.

It was a good night for Weepu and Wellington, and shapes as a long season for Otago.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hugo on the move .... #68

Stylish iconic Wellington retailer "Man to Man" carries the largest stock of Hugo Boss products in New Zealand, perfumes, belts, ties etc for gifts and suits, shirts and ties for work. Plus cool casuals and genuine Boss jeans. Nice site and friendly helpful staff, too.

New Zealand's largest Hugo Boss stockist, situated in the centre of Wellington. They stock the full range of Hugo Boss clothing and accessories ranging from the Boss Black Label (business/formal wear and corporate casual wear) to the Boss Sport Orange Label (weekend/street wear). Man to Man also stock Ben Sherman, Energie, and a selected range of local brands.

Open hours: Monday to Thursday 8.30am - 6pm Friday 8.30am - 8pm Saturday 9.30am - 4.30am Sunday 11am - 4pm

... BUT wait there's more .. these guys are on the move to a new boutique shop a couple of blocks south east in Victoria Street just 10 paces south from the Lido Cafe ... hence the Relocation Sale sign. The new boutique shop will have not only BOSS for men but also for the ladies. Upstairs for one and downstairs for the other. The new store will be open well before Christmas. Good wishes for the business in the new store

Friday, July 27, 2007

Practice practice practice ... #67

Every two or three months buildings in Wellington go through their practice evacuation procedures. We never know when it is going to happen. Our building of 31 floors takes about 7 - 8 mins to evecuate everybody. here are the fire wardens from each floor waiting for a debrief following the latest evacuation.

And as with all things about public safety there is usually some Government legislation behind it somehere .. so for those that love the regulated world have a look at THE FIRE SAFETY AND EVACUATION OF BUILDINGS REGULATIONS 1992

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Golden Glow of our Guardians... #66

A simple early morning perspective of the trio of container cranes and the harbour. Almost biblical in proportion and image ... very low clouds, filtered sunlight creates a different viewpoint of our harbour edge. Our guardians of the water's edge stand strong and tall against the encroaching storm.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Alternative Perspectives ... #65

In our cities of today with their high rise buildings its often easy to forget about those who work on the outside as opposed to the inside where we normally are.

Some would say that they spend most of their day just hanging around !!! ... but every time our windows get cleaned it's appreciated. Its always surprising, even in a the Wellington environment, with its wind and clear air, how much crap can float around and stick to the glass 30 to 40 floors above the ground.

These guys descended past my window, to carry out maintenance on the rain catchment system. This view is looking south towards Brooklyn and behind the workman on the right is the wind turbine on the Brooklyn Hills ... just imagine it as a 3 blade propellor in his headspace. He was the building crane operator and the guy on the left was the plumber.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Smell the Coffee ... #64

Despite the cold mornings and a chilly wind we still make the daily appointment with our coffee fix.

This is the Fuel outlet on Willis Street. The Fuel brand is one of the recognised coffee outlets in Wellington and the the Wellington Airport. Sanjay Ponnapa, founder of Wellington-based Fuel, talks about coffee the world takes on a slightly different hue. It stops being just coffee and becomes "like a good merlot", or "a pinot noir". After a few false starts at university studying everything from law to commerce and science, Mr Ponnapa dropped out to start Fuel from a single espresso cart on The Terrace in Wellington in 1996. Mr Ponnapa is a perfectionist. He has been known to throw away a 22-kilogram drum of roasted beans because the roasting process has gone awry. He has since expanded to three carts around the city and six street-front espresso bars, and taken on 40 staff.

Though many of his extended family still live in Coorg, in southern India, where they grow coffee beans, Mr Ponnapa's parents moved to New Zealand in the 1960s to work as doctors. He still buys coffee directly from his family in India, but also sources it from Italy. "When it is your family, you know they will only send you the best."

If you look carefully to the right of the photo you will note one of the Wellington street cleaners busy keeping Willis Street clean & tidy. I see this guy most mornings and he goes about his work with pride and diligence.

All out little "hole in the wall" coffee places are like welcome oases on the journey through the concrete jungle

Monday, July 23, 2007

But Monday is much better ... #63

Looking east towards Khandallah and the Orongorongo Hills in the distance beneath the unreal looking cotton wool clouds. Normally in Wellington our clouds are somewhat more wind driven than this.

Again you get a good impression of the hilly nature of parts of Wellington with houses perched on the hillsides interspersed with lots of "green"
The long belt of macracarpa trees in the right foreground are on the edge of Nairnville Park .. which is one of the city's sports grounds .. for cricket, soccer, rugby .. and many of the local school kids have begun their sporting careers here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Chilly Windy Sunday ... #62

YES perhaps it does look sort of warm in the photo .. the sun is shining .. at least enough to create shadows and sunstrike for driving !!! .. but in reality the wind was biting cold and you need to wrap up warm. This family, like a lot of Wellingtonians .. do just that and get out and about to enjoy the bracing fresh air. This family were having a race along the spaced wooden planks .. a bit like a sports practice. Despite the cold wind they were laughing and cheering and haviving a great time. This image was taken from Cable Street looking across Waitangi Park towards the hills above Oriental Bay.

The weather this weekend has been a mixed bag of sun, heavy rain and cold wind. On the brighter side the national rugby team , the All Blacks beat the Australian national side, the Wallabies so we retain the Bledisloe Cup and win the Tri-Nations Cup .. a GREAT OUTCOME .. and to really top it off we also won the Netball against Australia as well. This is all part of the on going sporting battles that NZ and Australia have participated in for many years. We each seem to have our fair share of wins and losses .. and when we do lose the nation almost goes into mourning ... and really it's only a game ... YEAH RIGHT.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry who ??? ... #61

Hundreds of Harry Potter fans queued early at book shops throughout New Zealand and the world today to buy J K Rowling's final offering. The last book in the Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, went on sale from 11.01am.
At Borders on Lambton Quay where this photo was taken there were around 150 people outside the store when it opened at 8am today. The fans were kept occupied by magicians and other entertainers, including face painters, until the clock ticked around to the bewitching hour.

The queues were much longer today than for the launch of the last Harry Potter book two years ago. Fans had pre-ordered "hundreds" of copies of the book.

Customers at Dymocks in Wellington were served by staff wearing academic gowns with burgundy capes and academic hats and were treated to magic shows leading up to the book's release. Rowling brought the boy wizard to life in 1997 with her first novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Ten years and six books later Harry Potter has become one of the most recognised names in literature and has made Rowling the wealthiest author in history.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Street Seat ... #60

Specially designed urban environment seats seem to be all the rage in our modern cities so its nice to see an eclectic interpretation that fits the immediate area. This seat made of skate boards and with appropriate graffiti sits outside the Cheapskates board shop in lower Cuba Street. As you can see it is actually a traditional style park bench with the skate boards screwed on top. Great thinking guys and a colourful addition to our city world

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Invisible City ... #59

Another of the interesting and challenging sculptures in our city environment ... this is the "Invisible City" by Anton Parsons. This view is looking east down Grey Street and the pedestrians give you a feel for the scale of the sculpture.

Dimensions:H 2200mm, W 1200mm
Location:Cnr Lambton Quay & Grey St
Materials: Stainless Steel
Date of installation: 2003

Presented to the city with assistance from the Jack and Emma Griffin Charitable Trust and the Wellington City Council. The stainless steel of this sculpture seems to glow with an inner light. The magnified Braille text suggests a message, but the artist chooses to deny us access, raising issues of communication in the contemporary world, and the difficult interface between the disabled and the rest of the community.

"Invisible City is an appropriate public work because it functions on several levels: Aesthetics – even without understanding that the dots on the two boxes are braille text, Invisible City is an aesthetically pleasing object – it doesn’t have to be read to be appreciated. Tactile – it is made to be touched. Surface – Invisible City is polished stainless steel, and reflects its surroundings. When looking at it you see a reflection of Wellington."
Anton Parsons

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mt Kau Kau & Cabbage Trees ... #58

An early morning alternative perspective of the ubiquitous cabbage trees against a pale sky, Mt Kau Kau and its communications tower.

For those that missed the earlier daily photo ... The summit is 445 metres above sea level and is the most visible high point in the Wellington landscape further accentuated by Wellington's main television transmitter tower the BCL TV transmitter mast. Mt Kaukau offers stunning 360 degree panoramic views of the Wellington harbour basin and Cook Strait beyond ... Kapiti Island, the South Island, Cook Strait, the Rimutaka Range and the Hutt Valley.

As a point of reference ... if you turn around 180 degrees in yesterdays photo of the harbour you look towards Mt Kau Kau

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Slice of Wellington ... #57

This shot of Wellington shows a lot of what the city is about .. starting from the top
the hilly nature of our environment
the "little boxes on the hillside" or not so little as the case may be. This is what many immigrants remember about their first view of Wellington
the green vegitation
Oriental Bay and apartments
the harbour and coastal nature of the city
the hard working tugboats ... red on blue water ... very primary
Container boats & the "Hurry-Cranes" that load and unload the containers
and of course in the foreground the top of the Westpac Stadium .. where we go to watch the major rugby games ... and concerts like the Rolling Stones .. awesome !!
...so one photo is a bit like taking a geographic and sociology slice though our city

Sunday, July 15, 2007

AirWolf ... Barista Extraordinaire ... #56

Daniel Minson is a self-confessed coffee nut and the ninjahax supreme who like to keep all haxilicousse 100% of the hardcore metacortex matrix. He's a pro barista, freelance web and graphic designer, who's currently studying 3D everything, electronic music, and lots of other bits!

Dan .. or AirWolf to those who know him well has been making awesome coffees at Moore Wilsons Fresh for more than 3 years now. There is always friendly smiling faces behind the coffee machine, when we call in on the weekend.

They sell most common brands of coffee beans and use Coffee Supreme beans for the take-out coffees.

Thanks for great friendly coffee ... AirWolf ... Barista Extaordinaire

Cold Frosty Morning ... #55

Well this is about the best Wellington can do for cold snowy weather. The car roof. The last time we had snow on the hills and roads around Wellington was about 20 years ago ... and sadly I am old enough to remember !!

Yesterday was calm, cold and frosty BUT the day was awesome ... sunny and magic for the middle part of the day.

YES we do get snow on the top of the Rimutaka Hil Road .. about an hours drive from the city. This road goes over the southern end of the ....Tararua Ranges ... and some years the road will be closed for a few hours because of the snow.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Good Morning Mr Weta ... #54

This weta was crawling across our kitchen bench ... they look very scary but in reality are quite delightful and non-threatening. The body of this one was about 5cm long.

The weta is an amazing insect, found not just in New Zealand but also in South Africa, Australia, and South America. Although not unique to New Zealand, the weta is found here in its largest forms.

Here it is able to grow lengths of up to 90mm and weighs up to 70grams. The weta exists in almost every habitat that New Zealand has to offer, from the warm sandy climates of Northland to the alpine environments of the Southern Alps, displaying true diversity. Weta is strictly a New Zealand name that derives from the Maori name of wetapunga that was given to the giant weta. Wetapunga translates roughly to "God of ugly things". Other Maori names, tokoriro and putangatanga, have been applied to the Auckland tree weta that is found throughout the northern and central parts of the North Island

Friday, July 13, 2007

Keep it Clean ... #53

Everyone has a cellphone ... The Council workers and contractors perform regular street cleaning, graffiti removal, litter collection and vegetation maintenance on traffic islands and gardens.

Traffic & Street Signs
The Council maintains over 18,000 traffic and street signs. Signs are designed and installed according to national and international standards.
'STOP' and 'GIVE WAY' signs are considered critical.

The number of street or park cleaners employed in the Wellington region is expected to remain stable over the next three to five years. Employment opportunities are influenced by the size of the area requiring cleaning and the level of cleaning required by councils. In addition, the state of the economy may impact on employment opportunities as councils may decrease cleaning services when the economy is in decline. Job numbers are not expected to increase unless an area experiences large population growth.Turnover among street or park cleaners employed in the Wellington region is moderate to low. Most street or park cleaners are employed full-time, although some work on contract.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rain rain go away ... #52

This is what it was like driving on the motorway .. State Highway 2 on the way into the city. Although the weather in Wellington has been wet, windy and cold .. it is mild compared to the mayhem that has been caused further un the North Island.

Damage from the wild weather that has lashed the country will cost tens of millions to fix
The worst of the storm cleared Northland, Auckland and the Coromandel last night but thousands of people still spent a second night without power. Repair crews struggled to deal with the sheer number of lines brought down by hurricane-force winds.
Emergency services were still dealing with storm-related calls around Auckland, Northland and Coromandel yesterday although the number of calls had dropped by late afternoon as the worst of the weather made its way down the country. Most calls were about road blockages, fallen trees and power lines, vehicles trapped in floods and people in danger.
Meanwhile, up to 20,000 Telecom landline customers in the upper North Island were without service at 5pm last night. Some mobile coverage was also affected.
Meanwhile, hundreds of skiers and snowboarders were disappointed yesterday as Mt Ruapehu was forced to remain closed. Both slopes were shut on Tuesday as winds up to 100km/h whipped the snow into a blizzard, but the mountain is expected to reopen today.
Dargaville residents were last night warned to prepare for the possibility of the Northern Wairoa River flooding the town, while the Far North remained in a state of emergency. Many small communities remained isolated because of road closures, slips and surface flooding and a lot of areas were still without power. About 160 people from the Kaitaia area were displaced because of damage to houses. Kaeo was under water for the second time in four months, remained isolated and without power, water or sewerage services.
Thames Hospital has suspended surgery until full electricity is restored. Most roads were reopened but caution was advised because there was still a lot of debris.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Government Building ... #51

The most historical & imposing building in the parliamentary and government quarter is the Old Government Building (1876) at the north end of Lambton Quay. Like the other buildings in this area, it stands on the old seabed that was thrust upwards in the 1855 earthquake and proved a welcome addition to the narrow strip of level ground fronting the harbor.

Although this massive four-story building in Italian Renaissance style looks as if it were built in stone, it is in fact wholly of wood - the second-largest wooden building in the world. The architect, WH Clayton, son-in-law of the then prime minister Sir Julius Vogel, used kauri, rimu and matai wood, which turned out to be so expensive that the government dispensed with an official opening ceremony. The building originally had 22 chimneys but these were removed as an earthquake risk. In front of the building is a statue of the Labor leader and prime minister (1940-9) Peter Fraser.

Some interesting historical quotes about The Government Building
'The large government buildings are so many shams. In the distance you exclaim "What splendid freestone structures" and when you go up to them and tap them with your finger, you find that they are nothing but wooden erections, painted and rough cast with sand to represent stone, but they are very handsome ...'

"As a matter of economy - indeed as one of necessity for properly carrying on the business of the country - I may state that the Government are convinced that new offices must be erected" Julius Vogel, 1873.

"This tender don't take the risk against earth shakes nor foundation giving". The lowest tender for the construction in concrete was £40,900 and in timber £29,975 well above the sum of £16,000 that had been voted"

A labour only contract was let to Scoular & Archibald for the sum of £24,685.

"It is a strongly classical building, both in in its grand and summetrical composition, and in its details - quoin blocks at the corners, string courses at each floor level, and a heavily bracketed cornice at the roof level. The Doric columned porches are academically correct in reproducing the details of classic Greek architecture in timber. The original paint finish, textured with sand, would have completed the impression of 'splendid freestone structures'

The Government Building is now the home of the University Law School ... which brings 'a smile to the mind' given its academically correct architecture !!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wai-titi Landing ... #50

Wai-titi (shining waters), which is an old waka landing near the entrance to the Beehive (in the background) , is commemorated by two carved features that depict the two taniwha of Wellington Harbour called Ngake and Whataitai. These Pou Whenua (tribal boundary markers), are the most visible elements of the Wai-titi Landing on the corner of Molesworth Street and Lambton Quay.

The Pou Whenua, created by Te Atiawa sculptor Ra Vincent, have been gifted to the City of Wellington by the Wellington Tenths Trust. The Trust is the Wellington City Council's partner in the project, which aims to recognise the heritage of the area as a waka landing beach in pre-European times by Te Atiawa and Taranaki Whanau. The beach was a major access point to the Kumutoto and Pipitea area.
The Pou Whenua are placed each side of a ground-level wooden bridge and carry two figures symbolising the people of the land they stand on. A kowhai design is reflected on the inner surfaces of the Pou Whenua, representing the wairua (spirit of the land) from which they emerge. Phased lighting depicts waves along the bridge. The park itself is surrounded by a landscaped perimeter of plantings.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Cold Pigeon ... #49

Even the pigeons in Midland Park were fluffed up against the cold wind on Sunday and definitely not showing any interest in chasing breadcrumbs or pieces of croissant thrown down by coffee drinkers at Astoria Cafe next door.

Temperature: 2 °C
Wind Speed: 2 km/h
Rainfall (last hr): 0.0 mm
Min temp: 2 °C
Max temp: 7 °C
Rainfall: 3.8 mm Month to date

... elsewhere in the South Island .... the skiers were smiling. No more snow fell over the weekend but icy weather in the South Island sent the mercury below zero and ski fans up the mountains in droves. Parts of Central Otago and the Mackenzie Country dipped to minus 9deg, the Canterbury Plains and Christchurch shivered with minus 6deg and the West Coast was warmest at minus 3deg.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Cafe Sunday ... #48

Cafe at the weekend. At this time of the day during the summer months the cafes tend to be rather empty ... however during the winter months, Wellingtonians still like to get out and about .. so they congregate in the warmth of a cafe for breakfast, lunch or dinner ... read the newspaper, catch up with friends or enjoy a welcome cup of coffee.

It is said that we have more restaurants, bars and cafes per head than New York with over 300 eateries. .. I suppose when you only have a population of 400,000+ you have a 'head' start ... if you know what I mean !!

Some more intersting facts about our city ... Wellington
is 28,990 hectares or 290 sq kms.
is the world's most southern capital and the only capital in the "Roaring Forties" latitudes.
was the first Capital City to see in the new millennium.
has the greatest proportion of open space land per capita at 17.3 ha for every 1000 people.
Centre is only 2 kilometres in diameter, you can walk from one side to the other in 20 minutes.
Nearly all Wellington residents are within 3 km of the sea.
Smoking in all hospitality venues, including bars, restaurants, cafes, and casinos, is prohibited in Wellington and throughout New Zealand.
The Old Government Buildings are the largest wooden buildings ever constructed in the Southern hemisphere.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Take the long way home ... #47

Spectacular views are often accompanied by the burden of a steep climb and tricky access, and many residents tackle this problem with their own private cable-car. Used to reach properties where building would otherwise be impractical these cars are a source of interest to visitors and locals alike.

As property developments continue to thrive on the hills, the demand for private cable-cars is steadily increasing. An estimated 400 residential cable-cars can now be spotted all around Wellington, and other hilly parts of New Zealand are also catching on to the cable-car solution.

This particular one is in Balaena Bay just around from Oriental Bay on the way to the Wellington Airport. Balaena Bay used to be the leading area for boat building in the early 1900’s, with the messy yards not wanted cluttering up the waterfront. It was cheaper to have a boat built in Auckland than shipping the Kauri to Wellington, but local boat builders were kept busy as their skills were needed to adapt Auckland pleasure craft to the rougher local conditions. Many of the Island Bay fishing fleet were built here in the 1920’s

The Wellington Cable Car Museum has a 15 minute documentary tracing the history and social impact of these cars. Wellington's private cable cars are probably a product of the tough topography and ocean climate in the region. Lighthouses originally had cable cars for carrying supplies from the jetty to the high lights, there were also military tramways for carrying munitions to gun emplacements around the harbour.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Yellow Bus Road ... #46

Our Wellington buses have been going through a "makeover"

Recent Bus History
Wellington buses, white with the orange, red, blue waist stripe, were operated by Stagecoach New Zealand which was part of the British Stagecoach Group. They began operations when the firm acquired the Auckland and Hutt Valley suburban bus operations of the New Zealand Railways Road Services, then branded CityLine, in the 1990s.

In 1992 Stagecoach expanded Wellington operations by purchasing Wellington City Transport, the largest bus operator in Wellington, from the Wellington City Coucil, and then greatly expanded its Auckland operations in 1998 by purchasing Transportation Auckland Corporation (trading as The Yellow Bus Company) from the Auckland Regional Council.

NZ Bus is owned by infrastructure investment company Infratil, which bought the firm from Stagecoach in November 2005. The Stagecoach Group has agreed to let Infratil use the name and livery for five years from the sale. In November 2006, Infratil announced that Stagecoach Wellington services would begin operating under the new GOWellington brand from early 2007, with updated yellow and black livery ... very Wellington !!!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Spinning Top ... #45

This photo is taken from outside Beaujolais Wine bar looking towards Nest .. the homewear store

Dimensions: H 3.5m x D 2.9m
Sculptor: Robert Jahnke
Location: Woodward Street
Materials: Stainless Steel
Date of installation: 2002

Commissioned with funding from the Jack and Emma Griffin Charitable Trust and assistance from the Wellington City Council. Robert Jahnke had been working on a series of Maori spinning tops or potaka and decided to modify the design to include a pictorial history of Wellington.

"I wanted to go for something that was visually interesting, so I created a European version of the top and included Maori references through heiroglyphics. "

Spinning Top traces the history of Whanganui-a-Tara, the Maori name for Wellington. The major mythical story is that of the two taniwha in the harbour. The taniwha formed the harbour and the surrounding hills with their movements.
Robert Jahnke

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Hotel de Wheels ... #44

"The Hotel de Wheels" ... Certainly an unusual name, but most appropriate for a hotel that made a 120-metre journey down an inner city street on railway tracks !!! YES REALLY.

Entrepreneur Chris Parkin and his neighbour Cameron Shaw hatched a plan in June 1992 over a meal of steak and chips in a city steak bar. Chris who had an interest in the hotel and was considering the fate of the building given the decision to build the new national museum" Te Papa" on the site.

Basically the plan was to move the 3500 tonne hotel 100 odd meters on 96 railway bogies to a new site on the corner of Tory and Cable Streets. Many thought the plan was crazy .. but this engineering method did have a number of precedents ... a hotel in Boston (1969), a hotel at Brighton Beach near New York (1888) and another in San Antonio, Texas (1985).

The Museum Hotel
Over two weekends in August 1993, the Museum Hotel, which weighs over 3500 tonnes, was shifted from its original site in Cable Street (where Te Papa now stands), to a site across the road on the corner of Tory and Cable Streets.
At a cost of over $2.4 million, the Museum Hotel was moved on railway bogies and pushed by eight hydraulic rams. Ninety-six railway bogies were arranged under the building, as well as a grid of steel beams which supported the building when the concrete piles were cut away.
The shift was made in two stages. The first stage involved moving the hotel to Barnett Street where it sat opposite its new site. The second stage involved turning all the bogies to face the new site while hydraulic jacks supported the weight of the building. Then, to an audience of hundreds, the hotel was moved to its current resting place without any serious damage.

History of the move and How they moved a hotel .

The rust coloured sculpture on the corner is by Wellington artist Cathryn Monro and is a very large steel sculpture named Per Capita ... more about this in the near future

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Man & The Dog... #43

John Plimmer was born in Shropshire, England in 1812. He worked with his father as a builder and carpenter, trades which would help him greatly in his new home of Wellington. John and his wife Eliza and their three children came to New Zealand as steerage passengers on the ship Gertrude, as part of the New Zealand Company's emigration scheme.
They arrived in Wellington on 31 October 1841 after a four month voyage. You can read more about Mr. Plimmer by following the link above.

This statue is at the bottom of Plimmer Steps, which is the lane that runs between Boulcott St and Lambton Quay. "The man & the dog" stautue is much photograped by and with visitors to Wellington. It is also an easily recognised, named meeting place. This photo is not usual as it is a photo of visitors taking and being photographed with John Plimmer and his dog Fritz. The lady being photograpphed is patting Fritz's back.

In his later years, in recognition of his contribution to the city of Wellington, Plimmer was unofficially bestowed the title "Father of Wellington". Plimmer is remembered in many Wellington landmarks: Plimmer steps, with the oak tree and the statue of John Plimmer and his dog Fritz, Plimmer house on Boulcott St, the bell of the Inconstant which hangs in St Alban's church at Pauatahanui, and the settlement of Plimmerton.
John Plimmer's grave can be found in a peaceful corner of the Bolton St cemetery, in the heart of the city he loved, and to which he contributed so much.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Windy Neons ... #42

Apologies to the Daily Photo Blogger Community .. I was unaware the 1st of July was "RED" theme .. well at least the red neon is on the top !!!

A 4:30am trip to the airport this morning presented the opportunity to catch the "Tower of Light" in operation ... the key attributes of darkness and wind were there. This sculpture is one of a series that utilises Wellington's natural environment to great effect.

Dimensions: H 9m, D 2m
Location: Cobham Drive
Materials: Steel, electrical control systems, neon rings
Date of installation: 2005

Presented to the city in 2005, sponsored by Meridian Energy, and assisted by the Wellington City Council. Tower of Light is the second major work by Andrew Drummond to be installed in Wellington. His first is the Listening and Viewing Device on Druids Hill in the Botanic Garden, commissioned by the Trust in 1996. He is known for sculptures that involve technology and explore the relationship humans have with technology. He has shown a long commitment to exploring the qualities of a site and developing works that relate to their physical and other contexts.

"Tower of Light is a machine that uses the wind speed and converts that into light using very simple technology. The rotor at the top of the tower spins in accordance to the wind speed. This rotational speed is read via a controller, which then switches on neon rings in accordance to the speed of the rotor, which is determined by the wind speed.
The lighter the wind speed the fewer number of rings are lit and as the wind speed increases the more neon rings are lit. I have used colour as a measuring element and so the sequence goes from green at the bottom through the spectrum to red at the top. As a result, the viewer is able to read wind speed through colour, a method for them to re-sense their environment.
The place of the work besides a busy road enables passers-by to get a feeling for what is going on as they pass in their vehicles. For the walking viewer they are able to stand underneath the tower and get another experience of the work. By standing under the Tower of Light they will be able to view the spinning rotor and ascertain the speed by visual means, but more importantly watch the markings on the rotor and the stationary structural stays which provides a further measurement of the wind speed. Tower of Light then becomes a work that has a strong social presence. It not only has a visual role, but has a social role and as a result will integrate its place into the local environment."

Andrew Drummond
January 2005

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Tararua Ranges ... #41

This is taken from the office building, (through a not very clean window) looking towards Petone, the Hutt Valley and the Tararua Ranges ... covered on top with snow. The temperatures in Wellington have got down to 3 and 4 degrees C .. which is about the coldest it normally gets in winter. Every year though we do get snow on the Tararuas and on top of the Rimutaka Hill Road which goes between Wellington and the Wairarapa.