field recordings 2013:09:08 17:12:46 – 2013:10:19 14:22:30

Riverhead at the end filled me with a sense of anomie. But not quite. The ugliness of it truly sub urban, and the ugliness of its continuation through developments designed in batches – designed for the market rather than for people to live in, resting on scarifications of an architectural scale and quality: the true architecture of landscape despoliation. And the sound of machines. And trees falling with a vicious crack echoing in the brown armpit of the valley, almost encircled by the eponymous river. And hee-hawing or strafing of men aggressively laughing. The neighbour.

You know, I think of that song lyric – “when I was dead / in Riverhead” – and a corner of sentiment sneaks in. Because Riverhead gave us a lifestyle – and something to hate, which as the Italians are said to say is as important as having something, or someone, to love. So that revisiting these images, there is a strength of purpose in the capture of them – real feeling – which is unlikely to be recaptured in the same way. Somehow John Campbell’s marvelous mouth shining like a solar anus fits – the crack that the light gets in, it really does. Get in.

Riverhead topographically is dominated by the rugby fields. Field recording are also felt. The grounds glowing nightly Soylent green under floodlights. Floodlights that were horrendously expensive to put in and are equally expensive to run. No expense spared. And in the mist maybe a kid is practicing his dodges, duck, dive, and a grown man is stretching his hammies.

Riverhead. Years ago submissions were being solicited – pre-Draft Unitary Plan – for the future development of the town. We all put together some ideas. Dad drew some pictures. We were not optimistic. But down at the 100 year-old hall it was a chance to meet some more locals. Talk about what others envisaged as a vision for the place. Like Auckland itself – which it in fact precedes as the initially projected site for the city – the town turns its back on its natural asset: the river. In Auckland’s case, this is of course the harbour. Was every watery space somehow associated in the colonist planner’s mind with an open sewer? Anyway, the plan we presented was to turn the town to face the river, opening up public walkways along its looping length with shops and eateries and a riverside culture.

It therefore whispers the words ‘another missed opportunity‘ when I see the suburbs tumescent breaking through the skin of the historic town: the dormitory vision of a sleeping skirt for citizens to cling in to. Waiting for their own cancers. Because there has been a slew of cancers recently in the nor’west of Auckland, centring on Kumeu, Huapai, Riverhead. The doctors at the medical centre talk about it.

Anomie. And a sadness that if not altogether sweet is not altogether painful.