Light, hope and COVID-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand




visual ethnography, interdisciplinary


Photoessays bridge the borders between the text and the image, much as light and shadow combined transform a flat picture into a three-dimensional object. In this photo essay I trace the invisible borders tracked in daily sanctioned walks. This forms a truncated ethnographic journey into the suburban environment during a global pandemic, one hour a day. Belonging, home, care and nation in Aotearoa New Zealand are compressed in both space and time; less than a year; less than two square kilometres, a single suburb, one neighbourhood straddling three ‘zones’. Teddy bears stuffed in windows, painted stones laid in forests, and messages to essential workers reveal values and hoped for outcomes embodied in concrete, plastered cladding and trees. The environment becomes an artistic landscape, a canvas to express wishes, hopes and dreams of who we are and hope to be, during times when borders and borderlands, both bodily and institutional, are unmade and remade.

Author Biography

Pauline Herbst, University of Auckland

Pauline Herbst is a Research Fellow at the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland.




How to Cite

Herbst, P. (2022). Light, hope and COVID-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand. Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 18(2).