Chapter One

July 1

THIS MAGAZINE TAKES ITS NAME FROM TWO THINGS. ONE IS THE YEAR MOUNT ASPIRING NATIONAL PARK WAS ESTABLISHED. IT IS A PLACE 1964’S TWO FOUNDERS, NATHAN AND LAURA, LOOK AT EVERY DAY. WE RECREATE IN IT, WE ARE MOVED BY THE SIGHT OF IT, AND WE SOMETIMES BOTH WONDER HOW WE ENDED UP LIVING SOMEWHERE SO FAR FROM EVERYWHERE ELSE. THE OTHER IS ONE OF THE MORE OBSCURE DEFINITIONS OF “MOUNTAIN”, THE ONE THAT REFERS TO “A REGION CHARACTERISED BY REMOTENESS AND INACCESSIBILITY”.

The sensibility of 1964 is perhaps best summed up by the (failed) Great Puffy Coat Rebellion. I live near Wānaka, where everyone, everywhere, wears puffy coats, whether they are making an attempt on the summit of Mount Aspiring / Tititea, going to the movies, dating, or forking out for a Michelin- star meal. They also spend a lot of time discussing their puffy coats, the pros and cons of various features of their puffy coats, the different brands of puffy coats, how many puffy coats they own, and for which specific purposes. I get it. It’s cold in the south, I too spend a lot of time in the outdoors, and a good puffy coat is important. But it isn’t poetry, is it? One winter I got fed up and made a pledge to wear nothing puffy, or made of Gor-Tex®, or with a Reissa® breathable membrane, or any other kind of techware, unless I was actually on a goddamned mountain. I bought a Duffel® coat. I froze.

I’ve done some evolving since then, and one thing I have come to understand is that creativity, sport and adventure are not mutually exclusive. Getting into the mountains in a puffy coat can be poetry, engaging with the outdoors is profound, you can jam better in a rainstorm if you’re waterproofed, and for many of us the psychology of wanting to get and to be remote is not about reaching the summit to Snapchat it, or catching the biggest fish to boast about it, or going the furthest the fastest to log it publicly on Strava.

Aotearoa New Zealand is the ideal place to explore this. Just as mountains can be remote − as can our rivers, our valleys and many parts of our coasts − so is our nation, isolated as it is from the rest of the world. Remoteness is part of our national culture; it’s the gift of a sparse population. You do not live here if you are uncomfortable being alone, but that’s OK. Creativity needs space.

And so, we write about our country’s remote places and the people who seek them out. We render New Zealand’s landscapes in close-up, not in wide-angle. We hunt outdoor adventure for the awe and the challenge in it, but also for the creativity, psychology and eccentricity. We look for the comedy in it too. In Issue One, we examine the singular beauty of a translucent fishing rod, a music festival that’s bringing metal to the mountains (horns up!) and a hidden whisky trail; we meet an award-winning portrait artist who loves small town life, and a fourth-generation taxidermist; we have poetry, photography, the largest cheese roll in New Zealand, an anti- Instagram manifesto, and a story about that one time Superman threatened an endangered New Zealand bird.

The stories in 1964 are not ones you’ve heard before. It’s a place where the puffy coat and the pencil can meet, and that is why I agreed to start this journey. Also, Nathan promised me if I did it, I’d get to go pig hunting. Welcome to 1964.

LAURA WILLIAMSON

Featured photo: Laura Williamson


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Delivering a unique reading experience, 1964: mountain culture / aotearoa works with more than thirty artists, including photographers, writers, woodworkers, welders, creatives and makers for each issue. We advocate for and support Aotearoa’s artists.