Filmexplores Auckland’s underground
A man’s obsession with Auckland’s cave network has been explored in a new documentary.
Auckland cave scientist and explorer Peter Crossley are the subject of Meet Peter, a film by Gemma Duncan which looks at Crossley’s 50-plus years of caving experience.
In 2013 Duncan secured $10,000 worth of funding from the New Zealand Film Commission to shoot the documentary.
The film is now complete and has been selected to screen at the Documentary Edge Festival in Auckland this month.
It follows Crossley as he crawls through dark, damp and hidden spaces beneath suburban Auckland.
Now living in London, Duncan said she was intrigued by Auckland’s caves because they were an aspect of her home turf she hadn’t heard of before.
‘‘I’ve always been interested in the places and spaces we can’t immediately see,’’ Duncan said.
‘‘In the same way, I love the idea that the London Underground has abandoned stations that the general public are not allowed to visit. I hope to keep making films about the ‘unseen’.’’
Crossley said there were more than 200 lava caves in Auckland but only about 20 to 30 could be physically entered.
However they were all on private land meaning his involvement with the film was never about encouraging people to explore the caves.
‘‘This was a chance for me to push forward the heritage value of the caves and hope that people do remember them so that they are not forgotten and destroyed.’’
A lava cave is created when a volcano spews lava in streams that cool and harden on the outside, but keep flowing on the inside until it is depleted and a cavern is formed.
Crossley said Maori used some of them as burial caves.
‘‘So there is quite a lot of tapu, sacredness, associated with them.’’
However not everyone has respected the caves through the years, with some even using them as a place to dump rubbish.
Now the biggest danger to them was builders and developers, Crossley said.
‘‘At least the bigger ones are protected and you’re not allowed to destroy them or do anything to do them.’’
Originally from England, Crossley began caving as a student in the 1960s.
Meet Peter screens at the Q Theatre on Queen Street on May 30 and June 2.