River-Road – Journeys Through Ecology
River-Road is a collaborative study of the Waikato river and the River Road that runs beside it, by photographer David Cook, Maori historian and consultant Wiremu Puke and designer Jonty Valentine.
Both imaginative and serious, it features Cook’s thoughtful photographs taken at along a 20km stretch between Hamilton and Ngaruawahia. The images operate in pairs – one taken at a Waikato river site, the other at a matching River Road location. Underneath each are captions by Wiremu Puke which dig out the significance of the site or activity photographed. At the end of the book are excellent short essays by Puke which tell the history of the area from a Maori perspective, providing understanding of the change and loss brought by colonial settlement, and contemporary efforts to restore the river and the Maori culture which surrounds it.
Cook’s photographs are telling documents which both build narrative and are beautifully seen square-format images. At the end of the book you’re left with a feeling for the significance of the area, without feeling lectured to.
The book operates as a slim notebook, creating a feeling of intimacy and showcasing the personal nature of the work.
River-Road is one of the more interesting New Zealand photography books to appear this year – recommended!