High volt­age vis­ual his­tory


Have you ever heard the diesel gen­er­a­tors of the Keith Street Power Sta­tion?

It’s an as­tound­ing ex­pe­ri­ence: the thunder of those two Bri­tish Po­lar K48M en­gines rat­tles your ribs, and your ears for­get they ever heard any­thing else. It’s also a rare one: the sta­tion was de­clared an earth­quake risk in 2013 and closed.

From March 25, with Te Manawa’s help, you can still get close to one of Palmer­ston North’s last pieces of in­dus­trial her­itage.

Power to the Peo­ple is an ex­hi­bi­tion of pho­to­graphs by mem­bers of the Ap­plied Pho­tog­ra­phy Group, an af­fil­i­ate of the Manawatu Cam­era Club.

Al­ways striv­ing to im­prove their pho­to­graphic tech­nique, the APG went to Keith St to chal­lenge them­selves in the sta­tion’s his­toric halls.

By today’s stan­dards, Keith St didn’t make a lot of elec­tric­ity, but it gen­er­ates un­told power as a pho­to­graphic sub­ject. Whether it’s show­ing the grimy guts of the gen­er­a­tors them­selves, the peo­ple who keep them in work­ing or­der, or the quiet spa­ces away from the high­volt­age ac­tion, Power to the Peo­ple is a fas­ci­nat­ing look into our in­dus­trial past, courtesy of some of Manawatu’s most skilled pho­tog­ra­phers.

Al­though the build­ing is safe from de­mo­li­tion for the time be­ing, it re­mains on the dreaded ‘‘earth­quake­prone’’ list, and the vol­un­teers who keep it in work­ing or­der have only a shoe­string bud­get.

The ex­hi­bi­tion will be­come an­other vi­tal facet to the work of doc­u­ment­ing, pre­serv­ing and, per­haps one day, restor­ing this his­toric site.

Power to the Peo­ple is your op­por­tu­nity to see this part of our her­itage beau­ti­fully framed by dis­cern­ing eyes, and runs at the Te Manawa Gallery un­til June 12.

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