Ko Te Mata te Maunga, Ko TukiTuki te awa, Ko Gareth McGhie Toku Ingoa.
I am an Artist and Carver from Wellington NZ although I am originally from Hawkes Bay, Te Whenua o Ngati Kahungunu.
I am the product of my ancestors and the sum of my life experiences so far.
Although my Tattoo work does not define me, it illustrates that ancestry and those experiences.
It is my responsibility in life to make good use of the gifts I have been given and to try as best I can to pass those on to others.
The tattoo (Tā moko) on my left shoulder, gives me the strength to stand tall and take pride in what I do. With my family on my chest and my iwi Tainui, I will make my mark here in this universe and be sure to make my presence well known.”
Iwi are the largest social units in Aotearoa Māori society. The Māori-language word iwi means “people” or “nation” and is often translated as “tribe” or “a confederation of tribes”.
“My name is Mike Cooper. I was born in 1949 and 70 years old. I’m flat lined with a heart attack ten years ago and have two stents in my heart! I am wearing a Medical alert bracelet on left wrist. On my right I’m wearing recycled beads – cleaning waste plastic from the oceans.
I am self-employed and using bacteria to reduce grease in the drains as well as NZ made and designed wool used mainly inside air filters to eliminate grease in the atmosphere in commercial kitchens.
I’m committed both in my business and my private life to protecting our precious and fragile environment.
Kia Kaha NZ”
“I am a father of three: 20, 9 & 8 who’s known to have a very busy schedule. In the past, I have shown people that everything in my life is fine on the surface, when in reality I have battled with depression, chronic alcoholism and gambling addictions which lead me down a path of self destruction. I have like many people tried and failed to combat the lifestyle of pain. There is a lot more to add, however I can say I am still here trying, haven’t given up on life, making better life decisions, wanting to live, not just exist. That is the bare truth.”
“I hated school. I had a teacher named Mr Anaru. He didn’t understand me.. why I couldn’t stop moving why I was always “overly excited”.
My mother, my brother and my sister were physically and psychologically abused by my father until we were saved by my “Miru” family and my Apelu family.
Mr Anaru placed me in the corner with no learning material for the majority of my primary school years at Dominion Rd Primary school. No kids wanted to play with me. Not even my brother.
I fucking hated school.
1 father, 1 brother, 1 sister, 1 mom
“YOU WAIT TILL YOU GET HOME BOY!”
My father was sick. He looked me in the eyes and said to me: “You don’t even look like me! Your mom must have fucked your uncle Whipper! Look at you!.” but he would always contradict himself by saying “remember. I made you, I can destroy you!”
I remained still, quiet, and thought ‘why dad?.. Why did you say this?’
1 brother, 1 sister, 1 mom
Tears in my eyes, hands clasped together. My brother laughed at me as I begged god for the beatings to stop. (I haven’t prayed in front of anyone except my friend Sarah since.)
My mom came home and the beatings stopped.
Mom saved me.
I then sat in my room listening to my mom gasping for air as my father strangled her.
1 sister, 1 mother.
My sister laughed at me running away from her when my father gave her his belt to “teach me”.
At age 7, I would run in front of West Auckland traffic in hopes the cars would “save me”
I said to mom: “I feel like I wasn’t supposed to be born.”
She said to me.. “shut up and stop thinking like that.. you don’t ever say that!”
The scars have held power over me until I turned thirty this year.
I’ve burned so many bridges because I chose to ignore my “numbness” and accept my “weaknesses” and my instabilities in this life.. I’ve used people who have loved me. I’ve stolen money out of my moms wallet. I’ve cheated on women and used them for purely nothing but my own pleasure.
At the bottom of my well of darkness..
My mom sat there with me saying:“You don’t give up my boy.”“My boy” was all I needed to hear.
Only once I began to accept that I was weak and sick and unaccepting of others – did I start healing my scars.
Every action is measured by the sentiment from which it proceeds.. Yes. but, we need to acknowledge that an action or thought could be a taught pattern of toxicity… Accept yourself, and you reclaim yourself in complete wholeness.”
– Alexander “Zanda” Adlam
Frank had just returned a lost supermarket trolley when I introduced myself at the Milford mall carpark. I saw Frank many times before, always walking briskly from Takapuna to Milford, his back very badly hunched, carrying a large sack on his shoulder. Frank was delighted to strike a conversation and explained that he makes some money by collecting bits of scrap metal from the streets and recycling it. He is “on the benefit” and gets ten or fifteen dollars a week from his lawyer (???). He was on his way to the beach to collect shells which he then glues onto bottles. He also decorates vases with shells and wants me to visit his home as no other photographer agreed to take photos of his art. He likes making crosses out of wood and covering them with shells. He finds pieces of wood on the streets or when he helps out on building sites – ideally cedar wood!
He was kicked out from his foster home when the landlord died, the landlady died too. There used to be a way to transform bottles into lamps but that kit is hard to get now…
I dropped him back at the beach when we finished and he was delighted when I said that I will send him an A4 print by post.
“Life is fluid. Always moving, never stopping. Seconds to minutes to hours to days to weeks to months to years. From birth to death. Then a photo freezes me in time. Holding that moment for all to see, never again can that moment be captured. Time, after that second, has moved on. I can only look at that photo now and remember the experience. That, is who I was, then.”
“Before coming in New Zealand I worked as a special counterterrorism operator. I am from Macedonia, a small country that many people do not know exists even though it was considered a great world power before Christ, led by Alexander the Great. I spent 28 tough years of my life and I do not regret it, as Frank Roosevelt said “a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”. I served my country for 5 years being part of the most elite “Special Task Unit”. Its main tasks are counterterrorism, resolving hostage situations and raid into facilities. I was also a part of the diving team, searching the underwater terrain, downers and objects of crime. In 2015 we had a terrorist attack that killed 8 of my colleagues and wounded 36. That was a wake-up call for me to start a family. I got married in 2015 and by 2016 my son was born. As the time was passing my private life started to get influenced by my work and that was the last thing I wanted. In 2017 my wife and I decided to leave the country to start a new life which will benefit us, and most of all our son – we purposely chose New Zealand. We have been living here for two years now, although we feel like whole lifetime. Here I have many opportunities and for me the mission is not over, because only the brave are followed by fortune…” Check out the Bare Truth series to see more.
“I am due to be 65 years old (New Zealand’s retirement age) in early December 2019. I have a very aggressive cancer and am in palliative care after two chemotherapy rounds and a failed drug trial. I’m hoping to stay well enough to make that date or better. I have been a “dead man walking” since a burst colon tumour nearly took me out with septicemia, and that certainty transformed and tested my philosophical outlook. I have been very surprised that my previous lip service to my beliefs have now actually been tested and find me in a very rich part of my life. My collateral has always been in relationships, not cash currency and I’ve found this never devalues. Indeed I’m overwhelmed by the support and love returning my way from family, friends and acquaintances, much of it from the many wonderful people working in this often devastating area of care. I have never been more relaxed in my attitude to life and am sensitive to the fact that my calm demeanour attracts simple smiles, gifts and shared enjoyment. Likewise, my forthright opinions and dark humour are often very challenging, but go figure? Why blues music?
Tunnelling down to try to fathom this wonderous shift has not revealed any deliberate or constructed effort. I will take this gift and, while my quality of life is medically managed, try to maintain my voluntary activities with Hospice and elsewhere the need is felt.
Born in a relatively impoverished inner-city suburb with a fabulous mixed ethnicity, I enjoyed primary and intermediate school with good if challenged teachers and a great local library. During my parents’ discord and break up, books were my refuge. It was a household of drink and violence from my father, deep love and sacrifice from my mother.
My life has been strongly influenced by necessity and responsibility. Healthwise I have been free, by and large, of injury or disease and that has allowed me to spot the gap and with some tantalising risk, embark on photographic and maritime adventures when responsibilities lessened. Of course we navigate much of our life with youth’s immortal horizon. I used to say I liked the sound of deadlines whistling by, but no more.
My siblings and I lost our mother to high blood pressure, stress, and little available support, when I was 17 years old. With an absent father, and having just started work, I supported my younger brother and sister through their secondary school years. We ate well on very little because of a socialist food co-operative. My philosophy was forming along with a period of intense and at that time obscure soft-style martial arts training with a weighting toward meditation and energy integration. I have always been grateful that mum passed on her interest in photography, which, at age 7, along with a boat trip, cemented two combined lifelong passions. I have lived aboard yachts, photographed them, and enjoyed that wonderful lifestyle that our sparkling waters provide.
I progressed to a series of technically skilled high-end jobs including teaching. Although low paid these jobs allowed for a parallel passionate development in personal documentary and fine arts efforts. Maintaining an active exhibiting profile fell to one side due to financial constraints. The work however, which is always primary, has continued unabated, if unrecognised, in the fine arts arena. I’m currently looking to house my marine archive.
I became a solo parent to my two year old son after completing a documentary project. He returned to his mother at age 12 and then moved to Australia when he was 17. I have a daughter from a subsequent relationship, access to whom was very sadly limited. I have been recently blessed by Eamonn and Laura gifting us a grandson. Life is a circle.
I am currently very busy trying to organise things for my passing, to save anguish for my loved ones in the rather unknown time ahead. The time feels short, the list long. I’m planning a “Way out Party” to gather with and enjoy my friends and family as soon as is practical, to help them ease into their grief process in a face+to-face farewell, with laughter, ribald stories and much love. Boats will play a part in my crossing the bar.
My very unconventional urn will reside under Mum’s memorial tree, planted by Bruce, Linda and myself when I turned 50 years old. The tree overlooks my wondrous Hauraki Gulf and its islands from above the bay where I lived aboard my yacht for eight years. Traumatised by Mum’s early death it was devastating many years later to return to the cemetery and find they had lost the ashes. The now 3m high tree and its simple bench and plaque, is a place to stand, rest and remember. I am very happy with these arrangements.
Enough of that rough sea!
Being a photographer, I rarely am caught north of the lens hence my appearance here as a record. What have I learned about Photography? Only two things matter:
1. It’s where you stand
2. It’s when you trip the shutter Practice refining this for as long as possible.
Add a decent amount of saltwater. Mix well. Enjoy the Journey.”