Ben Clement is a photo artist based in Melbourne, Australia. He has strong ties to his homeland in Gisborne, New Zealand. Ben’s experience spans over ten years and his style is recognised across the globe. He believes that personality, experience and knowledge over time has helped define his unique approach and outlook to his photographic practice.
Website by Kolber
Lake Waikaremoana is located on the east coast of the north island in a remote part of Aotearoa, New Zealand. The area’s history is fascinating enough based on the many stories that formed the place right up to the recent (2014) signing of the Te Urewera — Tūhoe Bill in which the land that the lake is surrounded by was granted personhood meaning it now has legal status of a person. Any ideas or decisions about the land and waters have to be treated in such a way as you would treat a person. To quote the biblical reference “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you”. A major step forward in both human rights and in environmental sustainability. Much of the bush land is still virgin forest which means it has attained great age without any significant disturbance. This makes the area so much more unique when visiting. There is a natural yearning to keep the land as it is and an upmost respect for its forest floors, rippling lakes and native animal. I grew up coming to this area as a young boy with my family. Both of my parents spent many years hear building the hiking treks I still walk today. The memories I have stem as far back as I can remember and are always filled with joy, though throughout my teen years I disconnected from the land, not consciously but due to other priorities taking over. This isn’t a regret but something that actually planted a seed in wanting to return more so in the current stage of my life. After returning multiple times in the last few years I took a trip there in 2017 that was a totally new experience. Arriving after what still feels like hours of driving along a gravel road, I was met with my older cousin and his young boys, who in different ways all remind me of my younger self. We set out in my Uncles boat for a three day excursion, cutting and hopping through the choppy parts of the lake that the wind had licked up. It felt like the lake had opened up to us, being guided around it’s many bays and coves and being shown parts of the geography we’d never seen before. We spent our time taking in it’s pure beauty and exploring different treks throughout the days. Setting up camp for the night and look out to the night and see the clearest sky you can imagine, to the point you will notice a shooting star every 5 minutes or so. Laying in your tent at night listening out for the rare Kiwi bird and hoping it won’t get too cold to allow for a restful sleep so the next day could be spent jumping through waterfalls and trying your best to fish for trout. These images show what I would call my new experience of a very familiar place. Seeing how my young cousins soaked it in made me remember and hold onto the areas uniqueness.
Waikaremoana, he hoa, he whare, he wahi tapu. Waikaremoana, a friend, a home, a sanctuary.