After my previous post about Chatham and Stewart Islands, the question most asked of me is, “Why did you go there?” My short response (from Robert Dessaix’s closing line in his 2001 novel, Corfu) is, “…to see what I might see”. It’s valid for any destination; quite apposite given my photographic appetite, and what's more; hints at a sense of adventure.
There are, of course, other reasons for journeying to an occasional remote island, but the most edifying is to experience first-hand, and become at least a little familiar with cultures that have withstood the homogenising tendencies of global economic integration (not to mention proselytising religions).
That isn’t to say that some communities from the almost 40 islands I’ve visited wouldn’t benefit from improved access to quality primary and secondary education, health services, and markets. But such progress shouldn’t be at the cost of the best their cultures have to offer. What I admire most about the communities I've had the great privilege to be welcomed to is their remarkable tenacity and resilience, interdependence and palpable sense of community, and (perhaps contrary to some expectations), acceptance of and hospitality toward strangers.
Travellers to New Zealand are overwhelmingly attracted to the North Island's striking geothermal wonders, and South Island's mountainous beauty and rugged west coast. And while the lesser islands of Chatham and Stewart haven't the same spectacular draw-cards, they are for me no less remarkable. I hope my images reveal something of the idiosyncratic essence of both islands and their communities.