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Photo essay: Precious possessions

Thursday 1st May 2014

The Wireless closes the Value theme for April with a photo essay featuring Kiwis holding their most cherished posessions. Four photographers: Jordan Dodson, Emily Hlavac Green, Aleyna Martinez and Blair Barclay capture people from the country’s main centres, Auckland, Dunedin, Wellington and Christchurch.

There are personal and sentimental items like a letter sent from a father to his daughter who he's never met; a small Navajo Shaman toy that represents travel and exploration to it's owner; and even an urn holding a mother's ashes.

Alan Waddingham, 22, cinematographer, Auckland. 

Alan fell into a camera internship. He started hanging out with cinematographers and cameramen, then decided that’s what he wanted to do.

Alan’s holding a 16mm lab-roll of his first music video.

“It’s important to me because it’s the first time everything had come together and really worked and it’s exactly the kind of thing that I want to make. It was like super fun, unusual and kind of strange on a medium that I love so much.”

Nik Timms, 23, computer science student, Christchurch.

Nik grew up in Christchurch. He has recently spent a year travelling the world.

The urn he’s holding has his mother’s ashes in it. “It’s important to me because she died when I was seven-years-old,” he says. “We had her cremated and that was just a little spread of what me and my sister both got.”

“It’s one of those things because it’s completely irreplaceable,” he says. “It’s a connection to my mum and if there was a fire in the house sort of thing it would be one of those things that I grab.”

Fergus Burnett, 22, film industry worker, Auckland

Fergus moved to New Zealand from Glasgow, Scotland, when he was 5-years-old. His favourite item is a tiny Navajo Shaman "that a friend Pete brought back from the States”.

“A Shaman is someone who is travelling to and exploring all these metaphysical realms, so it is something that I can look at in my everyday life and think about these crazy far-out worlds that the Shaman might be exploring.”

“Its expression is a kind of a grin so it reminds me not to take it too seriously because eventually you’ll just die and become part of the cosmic soup. It’s a little totem to remind me to work hard and focus and have fun.”

“If I was to lose it I perhaps wouldn’t be surprised, I’d imagine it was because it decided to go somewhere else.”

Alix Whittaker, 24, filmmaker

Alix’s been producing videos for four years. Her music video for Randa Frankenstein was nominated for best music video last year at the Vodafone music awards.

When Alix got married last year her family wanted to get her something on her special day but Alix said, “I’ve got enough junk in my life so I really wanted them to give me something that had a story to it that belongs to one of my ancestors and they gave me my grandmother’s tea set.

Alix’s grandmother died when she was five but she has memoried of them being close as a little girl. “It reminds me of her and makes me feel good and I would love to pass it down to my children one day. I really love stuff that has stories.”

Cam Soles, 28, sneaker collector, Wellington 

Aleyna Martinez

Cam says he likes J’s because growing up, his family couldn't afford them. “We were too poor,” he says. 

“I got these at the Wellington Footlocker. I just strolled in and bought three pairs in my size.”

“I like these cause they’re my favourite colourway – Jordan Wheat 13’s, they were the first I could ever afford by myself.”

Katie Blaire, 26, barista, Dunedin 

Katie chose a letter from her father, a man she has never met. Katie and her sister “were basically abducted”  by their birth mother from America when they were kids.

“[We] had a really rough time growing up. Receiving this letter, out of the blue on my birthday like that, basically washed away a lifetime of pain and not knowing.”

“We now talk quite often and I'm moving to America next year to be with him and get to know his new family. Receiving that letter is the single most important thing that has happened to me at a time when I really needed it.”

James Bellaney, 33, Dunedin artist

James was born in Flaxmere, Hastings which he describes as “a state house, rough neck area”. He moved to Dunedin at nine and has been independent since age 11. He was getting into trouble but after finding art school he turned his life around.

“My boots are kind of, a bit cliché but, they tread around, they go through journeys and each painting is somehow connected to those shoes because there’s paint all over [them].”

“It’s generally by accident because they’re brand new shoes, and then it just forms into painting shoes which is a symbol of how I work. It’s kind of spontaneous and immediate and I don’t normally remember to put on my painting clothes so everything gets covered in paint.”

Whitney Zakaria, 19, retail assistant, Auckland

Aleyna Martinez

Whitney lives on the North Shore in Auckland and works at a clothing store on Queen Street. Her dad passed away when she was young and ‘Snoozems’ is a cuddly toy he’d given her as a baby.

“The nose is kind of falling off and it’s really old but I still take it with me when I travel.”

Alyce Parsons, 29, mother/part-time model, Dunedin

Alyce grew up in Australia and moved to New Zealand when she was 10. She now has two children and has lived from Tauranga to Tekapo.

“[The skulls] come from Mexico,” she says. “My brother and sister brought them back for me. The Day of The Dead Skulls. I love skulls so those to me are like really special because they’re actually from Mexico.”

“They represent me really, I’m a bit of a bogan and if you knew me you’d know I love skulls.”

Rodney Yee, 28, golf professional in Christchurch.

Rodney is a born and bred Cantabrian who started playing golf when he was seven-years-old. He later went onto play for New Zealand during university and turned pro when he was 23. Now his main focus is teaching golf at Russley Golf Course.

“I play golf, it’s my job, it’s my hobby, it’s the sport I play, so I guess it represents who I am.”

“It’s something that I’ve done all my life and it’s taken me around the world.”

Arlo Gibson, 20, actor in Auckland

Arlo was born and raised in Auckland but left to live in the country for nine years, then returned to pursue a career in the art industry.

“I had just turned 18 and it was as I was seriously considering becoming an actor and [the] play moved me in such a way that I knew I really wanted to do this for the rest of my life, I wanted to be an actor.”

“For me it represents transition from going from a child to a man, it’s a kind of physical representation of going through the rite of passage for me.”

Enna Naoupu, 31, customer representative/trainer, NZ Post, Christchurch

Enna comes from a big Pacific family which means everything to her. The photo she is holding is of her late Grandfather Chief Avaia. 

“He’s important to me because he was our main head of our family, so he was the chief of our family.”

“Any big ceremonies or anything that happened in Samoa he would be the one that represented our family and also the one that would represent our village.”

“I’ve learnt a lot from him, so he carried a very big chief title which is good because he is basically the last member to hold that title”, she says. “He is the one to take it to the grave.”

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