Congratulations to the winners of the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2014. From 3400 entries, these are the finest visions of our environment and society, and this year’s contribution to the ever-expanding record of our place, and our people.
More than technical prowess, the photographs that were short-listed in each category share an original perspective—a insight into the fabric of our country and society that tells us something new about what it is to be a New Zealander or live in New Zealand. Each image trades on the access that the photographer gained, the moment they captured, and their unique contribution as an artist.
Some of the images are universally delightful, others have proved wildly controversial, but all of them elicit a response, whether that be charm, awe, horror or the simple feeling of recognition that wells up on seeing a true, clear reflection of an aspect of this country that we love.
The prize-winning photographs that follow depict only New Zealand and its dependencies, and all were shot after January 2013. A few of the photographers are professional, but not all. Many have entered the competition in the past, but few have won before.
This is New Zealand as you saw it—quiet places that gave you pause, moments of tragedy and comedy, and windows into lives and landscapes far from your own experience of Aotearoa.
New Zealand Geographic would like to congratulate Peter James Quinn, supreme winner and New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2014.
PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR 2014: PETER JAMES QUINN
Each year, the photographer with the strongest portfolio of images is selected from among the entries to win the overall Photographer of the Year award. Often, one of their images has won a category, but not always. This award recognises skill, consistency, and the insights that make for quality visual storytelling—a high bar to pass with a single year’s collection of pictures.
This year’s winner is Peter James Quinn, a photographer who has spent two decades summoning original visions of New Zealand into his viewfinder. He has submitted his images into this competition every year, and been among the finalists each time, but this is the first time he has won an award.
This year his images traverse subjects as diverse as West Coast whitebaiters, Tūhoe, and night life on Auckland’s Karangahape Road. In each, Quinn stacks up layers of competing ideas with well-composed and visually simple expressions of the complex cultural and industrial foundations of New Zealand.
His images of Tūhoe were shot at the end of a two-year project to document the iwi during their long transition to self-determination, a difficult assignment that speaks to Quinn’s patience and commitment, but also reflects modern and traditional values that are held in harmony: a couple dressed in piupiu push a stroller through a parking lot from a kapa haka festival, a descendant of the prophet Rua Kenana cradles the family Bible outside his home, while behind him, an ace of hearts is tucked into the weatherboards.
Quinn’s images champion content over process, and reinforce the photographic value of being in a location so long that you are no longer there, watching on as the rites of daily life are played out, without reference to the camera.
ALL AWARD WINNERS:
Patrick ‘Onion’ Orupe stands in the home that belonged to his tipuna, the prophet Rua Kenana, at Tuapou marae in the Matahi Valley.
Whitebaiters clear sock-nets of catch and “compost” on a stretch of pebbly beach along the north spit. A replica of the original signalman’s mast sits above them in the carpark. A combination of coloured balls and raised flags was once used to warn vessels of dangerous conditions before entering the river. Siltation from sluicing operations upstream at Kaniere means few boats venture to sea over the Hokitika Bar these days.
Calendar Girls Roxy and Storm grab a pre-performance drink in the upstairs bar of the exclusive strip club. The club has been operating inside the 118-year old Naval and Family Tavern building on the corner of K’ Road and Pitt Street since 2011.
Members of the Ngati Haka Patuheuheu kapa haka team head home following their performance at the bi-annual Easter 2013 Tūhoe Ahurei festival at Ruatoki, now into its 41st year.
The white-fronted tern is New Zealand’s most common tern, named for the thin white stripe separating its black bill from its black head. Never far from the water, white-fronted terns rarely swim, but feed by scooping shoaling fish such as smelt and pilchards from the surface without alighting. Parents feed their young during the months it takes them to learn the skill themselves, while male terns court mates by bringing them fish held crosswise in their beaks. Edin Whitehead captured this picture at the Muriwai gannet colony, a permanent nesting site for more than a thousand gannets and terns on Auckland’s west coast.
The willow in Lake Wanaka is arguably the most photographed tree in New Zealand, drawing Dennis Radermacher outdoors on a foggy winter’s morning. Wetland willows fringe Lake Wanaka and form its distinctive golden backdrop, but only one stands in the water. ‘The Lone Tree’ has weathered the lake’s rises and falls for at least 20 years; its bare branches offer a resting place for shags.
Gnarled branches festooned with trailing moss and lace-like ferns give the Goblin Forest its name. Located on the subalpine slopes of Mt Taranaki, many of its contorted kāmahi trees sprouted on the stumps of those killed 350 years ago by ash showers from the now-quiescent volcano. Jason Law waited for a rainy day to photograph the Goblin Forest, and says further patience was required to capture this image without rain droplets.
Sunset and low cloud combine to give Milford Sound an apocalyptic glow. Mitre Peak, named for its resemblance to the shape of a bishop’s headwear, is silhouetted at left. West Coast-based photographer Petr Hlavacek—originally from the Czech Republic—has photographed the fjord many times over the years, from different vantage points and with different qualities of light. On this occasion he waited seven days for the right conditions.
For more than two years, Jonathan Barran has been making photographs at Onemana Beach at sunrise in an attempt to capture the light, colour and motion of the sea in an abstract form. Inspired by his favourite painters, the British artist JMW Turner and the French Impressionists, Barran uses techniques such as camera movement and a slow shutter speed. This image was made on a gloomy, stormy morning. Barran says his recent impressionistic leanings are a reaction to a 40-year career as a scientific photographer where he had to ensure every detail was captured perfectly sharp.
Children play at the AMI Auckland Netball Centre. Richard Robinson was photographing road construction for the New Zealand Herald from a helicopter when the grid and vivid colour of the netball courts caught his eye. Robinson says that whenever he has the chance to shoot stories from above, he looks for interesting patterns to photograph, such as the long shadows cast by players and nets on a winter afternoon.
A New Zealand bellbird or korimako is caught by conservation staff during a relocation programme. Department of Conservation, Auckland Zoo and bird sanctuary staff gathered on Little Barrier Island to capture saddlebacks and whiteheads for resettlement on Rotoroa Island in the Hauraki Gulf and in Rotokare Scenic Reserve in Taranaki. This bellbird was part of the fortunate bycatch, says Greg Bowker, and was released immediately. The lightweight ‘mist’ nets used to capture the birds are so delicate they had to be repaired by the team several times throughout the day.
Endemic to New Zealand, Thalassarche bulleri has a striking yellow and black bill and can be found foraging in the region between Tasmania and the Chatham Rise. It breeds mainly on islands off the coast of New Zealand in nests it returns to year after year with the same partner, then migrates to feed in the Humboldt Current off the coast of Peru and Chile. Richard Robinson says he had this image in mind after spending many hours on boats during a trip to the Chathams with little to do except dream up new ways to photograph birds. A long shutter speed captured the motion of this albatross in flight.
The largest fish in the sea at up to 15 metres in length, the usually solitary whale shark occasionally migrates to northern New Zealand waters between November and March. Matthew Coutts photographed this whale shark soaring through the warm waters of the East Auckland Current, about 40 kilometres off the Cavalli Islands.
Devonport resident Shirley Wilma is comforted by a friend after a tornado ripped through the Auckland suburb on the evening of October 8, 2013. Brett Phibbs arrived on the scene shortly after the wind gusts struck and photographed the embrace of friends among uprooted trees and fallen power lines. A photographer for the New Zealand Herald, he says the most important thing in covering natural disasters is arriving quickly enough to capture the human reaction.
After two weeks travelling the North Island searching for stories for the Herald on Sunday, Michael Craig was preparing to return home when he came across the sleepy town of Ohura. He says its village high street seemed trapped in time; many of the shops were stocked, but looked as though no one had been inside for years. Wandering the streets he met longtime local and pastor Hazel Wilson, who described the town’s history as well as her work in the local prison and church. She agreed to pose for a picture only on the condition that her dog, Bella, would be included.
A girl holds hands with her grandfather during the mid-morning Anzac Day parade in the Auckland suburb of Devonport. Sarah Ivey was following a 103-year-old war veteran for the New Zealand Herald when she spotted the solitary girl in the line of men. Ivey says the Devonport event gave her the opportunity to capture a different side of Anzac Day services than the dark, frigid dawn ceremonies she usually covers. This girl would never have been allowed to walk with the veterans at the more formal service Ivey had photographed earlier in the morning, she says.
Shivering girls from an all-female waka crew huddle together for warmth during Waitangi Day celebrations on February 6, 2014. On assignment for the New Zealand Herald, Dean Purcell was looking for an image that captured the day’s gloomy, blustery weather. He found it as crew members from various iwi gathered for a pōwhiri on shore before the launching of the waka, one of the main events of the day.
Nat Davey spears a striped marlin off the coast of the Three Kings Islands, northwest of Cape Reinga. Mazdak Radjainia spent 10 days on the open ocean with a crew of fisherman on the hunt for marlin—Radjainia with camera in hand, the others with spearguns. It’s a hazardous business as marlin are capable of bolting, dragging fishermen down to depth, or delivering a hefty whack with their tails. Such an expedition requires ‘spearos’ to think like the fish itself, says Radjainia. He’s facinated by how the marlins’ killers end up with a deeper knowledge and appreciation of the fish than most.
The small Marlborough town of Seddon was shaken badly by a magnitude 6.6 earthquake on August 16, 2013. Covering the aftermath, Tim Cuff selected a single road, Clifford Street, in the hope that photographing its residents would give a snapshot of life after a severe quake. Steve and Renee Hammond live at number seven with their granddaughter Lily; their picture frames a visual symbol of the continuing aftershocks.
Five-year-old Will Potts hangs out with a couple of cowboys at the Huntly Rodeo. Showjumper and New Zealand Herald photographer Christine Cornege was at the rodeo to shoot the bull riders and broncos, but during a lull in the action she wandered around looking for faces to photograph instead. She came across this boy chatting away to the men next to him. “He thought he was about six feet tall,” she says. There are 35 rodeo clubs located around New Zealand, with more than 800 registered competitors.
Three Sea Shepherd vessels travelled to the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary over the summer of 2013/2014 to disrupt Japanese whaling activities for the tenth year in a row. Japan had intended to take 1035 whales from the area for research purposes, but managed just 287 due to Sea Shepherd’s intervention. Styling themselves as pirates for the environment, Sea Shepherd’s tactics included closely following Japanese ships to prevent the transfer of whales from harpoon vessels to the processing ship. In March, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s whaling programme was unscientific and should cease immediately.
New Zealand’s largest high-country station, Molesworth, covers a greater area than Stewart Island and has one of the country’s largest cattle herds. Suisted spent three years documenting the region, the fruits of which were published in the book Molesworth in 2013. The station is now managed by the Department of Conservation.
During the early hours of April 4, 2014, the Armed Offenders squad raided Waitangi Teepa’s home. Teepa’s parents had been mistakenly identified as criminals after the police followed the wrong car from Whakatane to Ruatoki. Nearly a century old, Teepa’s rickety homestead has sheltered more than six generations of whānau and hundreds of tamariki. “It has withstood all forms of storms, both physical and spiritual, and will continue to act as a repository for thousands of taonga, memories and stories,” writes Teepu. These photographs were made by Teepa’s adopted sister, Tatsiana Chypsanava, two weeks after the event.
Medical Clowning is becoming an important tool in paediatric care, with programmes now in place in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington. Founded in 2009, Clown Doctors New Zealand sends trained performers into hospitals: actors, drama teachers and musicians skilled in the art of bringing joy to clinical settings. Relating to sick children and vulnerable families is a serious business. Clown doctors can even earn a university degree in their profession through the Berlin-based International Institute for Medical Clowning.
Feral horses were first discovered in the Kaimanawa Range in 1876, and their numbers swelled over the years as horses escaped or were released. The New Zealand government musters and culls the Kaimanawa herd every two years in order to protect endangered plants within their habitat. Kelly Wilson took this photograph in the Argo Valley of the Waiouru Military Training Grounds during the May 2014 muster. It shows the horses’ final moments of freedom as helicopters herd them across the Moawhango River into the mustering yards. Wilson rehomed 11 horses from the 2012 muster and another 10 in 2014, and this year created a national training program for Kaimanawa stallions in order to save them from slaughter. After the 2014 muster, 15 horses were culled; in previous years the number reached 120.
A colony of female jewel anemones release streams of eggs into the water. This synchronised mass spawning is believed to occur only twice annually in New Zealand waters, in June and July. The colour of jewel anemones varies between colonies rather than individuals, ranging from pink and purple to orange, yellow and green. Their name comes from the brightly-coloured ball at the tip of each tentacle. Jewel anemone colonies are plentiful on scuttled ships; underwater photographer Alison Perkins captured this image at a depth of 30 metres at night on the wreck of the HMNZS Canterbury in Deep Water Cove in the Bay of Islands.