Port Chalmers is a hybrid, chimeric thing, half colonial, one third midcentury, the rest misc. circa recent. Its corpus sits clustered on an undulant, herniated peninsula in the midst of Otago Harbour with its main drag nestled in the cleft beside the western hills. A commercial port squats in its northern indent while the southern margin spoons out into Sawyers Bay, an inlet shaped something like the flatfish that populate its shallow waters.
Port's varying fortunes are written in its housing stock. Slapdash ballast cottages, prim, trimmed villas, doctors' mansions, squat stone Caledonian piles, plastered-over cribs and glassy-eyed brick bungalows cite everything from gentleman settler aspirations to dog town downturn. This structural motley is not always pleasing during daytime but it has kept developers and speculators at bay.
These days, Port can look like an animal shelter for houses. It tends to attract the more altruistic occupant, or at least those comfortable with visible scarring.
The Avenue occupies a cirque of land reclaimed from Sawyers Bay for social housing, back in that dim epoch when governments prioritised basic civic requirements. The houses were and still are practical and humane, sited for sun, furnished with gardens, lavishly fenestrated and well-served by schools and recreational addenda.
Successive neoliberal administrations neglected their upkeep, then filled them with their human discards until the street became synonymous with dysfunction and privation. At which point the stock was largely sold into private ownership.
It's much quieter of late. Port has never really been a party town, but the soaring cost of living and the real prospect of homelessness keeps the hood rat shit to a fitful minimum.
We love night photography, so this series will continue some time in the near future.