Interesting things about Wellington, New Zealand; No. 3; Mould.

Oh, hello there!

Oh, hello there!

From the air, Wellington looks like the work experience kid got left in charge – the entire city is laid over steep hills and valleys, with houses perched over vertiginous drops or buried amongst sunless thickets. As a result, some houses never see the sun at all, and many more are dug into steep clay hillsides. The back rooms of a house or apartment, usually bedrooms, can remain in perpetual darkness.

The natural light in these ‘dark rooms’ is limited to an eerie verdigris glow, filtered through a thin film of window-moss. The average inner city Wellington bedroom can feel somewhat incomplete without a complement of expanding MDF furniture and an axolotle. The results are predictable – a ceiling in the traditional ‘hot-coco’ style  (spreading patches of brown-black mould) and a wardrobe containing enough polar fleece to upholster a whale.

Polar fleece, incidentally, is New Zealand’s tartan. I am reliably informed that it cannot sustain mould, which I am inclined to believe – even mould won’t cling to something that smells like annealed vomit.

What I am overlooking, of course, is the hidden genius that is Wellington’s building stock – it’s mostly timber, which rolls and bounces with the frequent earthquakes. Having had the entire city wobble over a couple of times, the early settlers abandoned their grandiose colonial dreams of stone and masonry in favour of heartwood Rimu and other beautiful local species, which of course subsequent generations efficiently plastered over with woodgrain laminate. Thankfully, many buildings are now revealing their origins, including  timbers now commercially extinct, such as Kauri.

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