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When German photographer Antonia Steeg was invited to attend the last muster at the historic Mesopotamia Station in 2008, the event lead to a four year long project.
Being a gifted photographer, a capable horsewoman, and good company, word of Antonia’s abilities spread and she soon found herself being invited to visit the most remote homesteads and embarking on a massive project.
Antonia went on to photograph all around the high country. She drove her rugged 4WD over 120,000 kilometres, photographed from helicopters hovering at 14,000 feet, and rode on horseback into parts of the country that few will ever reach. She experienced all the wild extremes of our ever-changing weather and made more than 100 station visits. Of the tens of thousands of high quality photographs she took, three hundred of the very best are distilled into a beautiful book being published by Te Papa Press this October.
“The seasons in this environment give a real structure to the lives of all who live there,” says Antonia. “The people on these farms are extraordinary, they have the most positive and hospitable outlook I have encountered anywhere, and I hope that my pictures capture some of that.”
Many New Zealanders and visitors to this country feel an affinity for the South Island’s high country for its majestic scenery and rich mythology. Antonia’s evocative images of its snow-cloaked mountains, tussock grasslands, and massive braided rivers shaped by millions of years of natural events, portray a place where high-tech farming methods are being used alongside tools that an early settler would recognise, where animals play an essential role, and where livelihoods are constantly at the mercy of the elements.
‘High Country New Zealand: the Land, the People, the Seasons’, is available to purchase from bookshops nationwide or online at www.tepapastore.co.nz It is a stunningly visual celebration of a unique place seen through fresh and compassionate eyes.
More of Antonia’s photographic work can be viewed at antoniasteeg.com