Welcome to my site

I have finaly found some time to reflect on my time in Queen Street, the people I met and the reasons behind this sites existance. They may appear a little jumbled at present however when finished will put in some sensible order.

This is a little oversight into these photos and the reason they came about including small stories about some of the people I met in Queen Street over the five and a half years I spent on Queen Street, Auckland city. Most were taken in or very close to Queen Street during daylight hours. Most photos were taken with permission however some it was not possible for obvious reasons. I gave my card with my contact numbers to all and a small donation as thanks. On some occasions there was a higher cost...$10, $20 the highest was $40 I was happy to pay as I often said it is your face and without it the photo will be pretty awful. I think in some instances it was a matter of pride and that I was willing to pay for the privilige as a number of street photographers will literally steal a photo on the street without permission. I had a couple of heated run ins with a couple of photographers who were treating their subjects with little or no respect. I guess this is why over five and a half years I had very little in the way of problems once my reasons were known and my reputation on the street developed.

During the middle stage I spent of the time spent on Queen Street, I was very unwell with a serious heart condition. The first operation was unsuccessful and I had to wait a further six months to allow it to heal so they could try again. During that time I was on a cocktail of drugs that induced severe depression along with other issues and could barely even walk up Queen Street. It was during this time that I developed a strong affinity with the guys and girls on Queen Street. Feeling so desperate myself I discovered I had a lot in common and many became my friends which in turn lead to a wide range of experiences some extremely sad stories and some, now in hindsight, quite funny.

I was walking alone with my heart on the ground.

Looking at people that have no right to be around. 

As my eyes wandered by, my brain in a shroud, does anybody care, I wondered aloud.

Sad eyes, bare souls, everywhere to be seen.

I thought again who really cares, you know what I mean.

Not you, not me, or any I see.

Just many rushing with somewhere to be.

No thought given, no care at all, just hurry by on my way to the mall.

Can’t stop, can’t see, somewhere to be.

Not here not now, too sad to involve.

Who cares about their story waiting to be told.

Don’t know, don’t care… Lord just get me outa here,

Right now, quickly, as fast as you can.

I don’t want to be seen by that kind of man. 

So I’m gone, I’m home, who really cares.

Just me and all of those desperate stares...

 

At the beginning, there was quite a bit of suspicion as to what I was doing on the street with some thinking I was the Law snooping around taking photos of the streeties. That along with the fact that at one stage I was sure I was not going to make it to the second operation I decided it wasn't worth the effort to get a haircut or worry too much about general appearance. I guess my outward appearance was looking a little dishevelled at that stage. The drugs I was taking at that time and me arriving at Intensive care in Auckland Hospital over fifteen times during that period to have my heart stopped and restarted (in an attempt get it back into rhythm) didn't help my general outlook on life. There was one highligt of the restart process was Propofol, this was the drug used to put Michael Jackson too sleep every night. It is used as a general anesthetic. One of the Doctors, who was about to administer it to me, had a discussion with me about it and the effects it produced, such as euphoria and the wonderful warm feeling before it all goes black. He explained that if the dose was introduced a little slower the feeling would last a little longer. I asked him to to take a little more time when administering it as previously I had experienced some discomfort as the drug was released. It was quite a plesant few seconds before the lights went out.

A number of people thought I was homeless myself at that stage. I also thought I was, mentally so at least.

It was quite a revelation to discover how "normal" many people on the streets were. Some times it took years to strike up a conversation and be trusted. Many have addiction or mental healh issues but this did not inhibit our relationship.

A number of followers have asked the perenial question "do you ask permission?" or "have you signed a release form?". The reality was that a number of people I photographed were under the influence of drugs or alcohol and in some cases mentally impared, this along with the fact that many on the streeet used nicknames meaning they would have limited value in a court of law.

I started a Facebook page called 'Humans of Queen Street' in May 2014 which ramped up quite quickly these featured people I talked to who did not mind or in some cases wanted to be included. A large number of photos were taken of people on the street with the condition that they would not be published on Facebook. This was the reason for the 'Mike Wheelton photography' site as there is limited opportunity to share and no opportunity for negative feedback (haters). Another person publised a photo on Facebook along with some incorrect information which was thought to be me. This resulted in me being told in no uncertain terms that this was not what was agreed and there would be trouble. I pointed out that it was not me and I did and would not break that agreement and the matter was resolved.

There was a huge range of people to talk to, funnily enough. I found nearly all to be respectful and amongst the few people who would talk to me openly during this difficult time, these included Steve who helped me immensly when I was really struggling with his calm outlook on life, Fatty, Johnathan, The lawyer, Romeo, Viper, Moko Pete, Maori, Dog, Wolverine, Artsoul Andy, Tui, Mikey, Brucie, Johnny Cool, The Hillbillies, Rudi the Taxi driver, my truly wonderful wife Vicky and more.

I also spent a lot of time talking to a number of local Taxi drivers of all different nationalities on my walk into town every day. We shared stories and on a number of occasions would not accept a fare to take me up to the Hospital when I needed a reset or would lose their place in the que to drop me home when it was raining heavily at no cost. I would occasionally return the favour by hopping in the cab to make it look like I was fare when the parking wardens were on the prowl and they were waiting in a loading zone.

There were also a number of humerous encounters with a number of parking wardens, some who gave no quarter and others who would confide in me some of their more humerous experiences. Many outsiders felt they were hardly done by by these people but many times the stories reflected a more human side. I am unsure how many of those could be repeated here but some revolved around compassion shown to people with physical handicaps, some because of their looks, others because they simply treated the the wardens with respect.

The Facebook page took off especially as the gentleman running the 'Humans of Auckland' page (Villi) gave me a reccomendation to all his followers, which built up over time to some posts having over 24,000 views. It became obvious pretty early in the piece that the Facebook audience was not too interested in the plight or problems of certain people so the page sort of petered out.

One of the best stories came from a guy I met early on when he was telling me how he won over $2000 on the pokies, he went on to tell me how it was spent. A large amount was put into his daughters bank account. I enquired as to where the rest went, the reply was it involved a decent steak meal, some naked women and lots of drugs. His only regret was he was still high and would not be able to sleep for a few days as it took some time for the drugs to wear off. I was sorry I missed the first two parts of that evening.

There are a few annual events which also allowed me to get special shots. One was the Zombie walk which always was huge fun. Some of the participants were scolded for scaring the young Asian students by ganging up on the girls closing in then scaring the crap out of them. Some of the participants and their make up artists who went put tremendous effort in on the day.

The drug scene was always strong, with most requirements being available on Queen Street. There was a lot of dependance on the street and it was particularly sad to see the effects on mates close up. It always was "nah I can handle it" to "hey mate I am hanging out can you lend me $20 and I will pay you back next week" which of course never happened. I always found this difficult as over time it became obvious where the money was going however when I gave a "donation", it sometimes saved some unpleasantness as their dealer would appear from nowhere and grab the cash to repay the debt. It always facinated me how much dealing went on in Queen Street under the noses of all the security cameras and passing police.

Glue sniffing was particularly unpleasant to witness as the users seems to fare very poorly and was distressing to see them with glue all around their faces and clothes. I understand it was one of the cheaper methods of getting out of it.

Synnies in various forms (synthetic Drugs) were on the street the whole time I was there. The strength of which has increased dramatically over time. This normally travels under the news radar until there are a few deaths such as happened a few months ago. It becomes embarassing for the government especially proir to an election and the police are instructed to do something about it.

The effects are very harsh on some users, normally just passing out in seconds but some others having adverse reactions or fitting or some cases death. Towards the end of my time on Queen Street they were a common occurance and all day every day for a couple of weeks ambulances were a common sight with a reported twenty one callouts to incidents in one day alone. A common saying at the time was that when you observed someone fitting on the street, it was " they can't handle the synnies".

There are always TV channels and individuals on the street looking for the Human interest story and the potential to save some souls. The reality is once all the cameras have gone, the programme aired and the dust settles, the individual concerned who was inundated with so called job offers has to undergo a drug test before starting refuses to comply as they know they will fail so it's back on Queen Street they go until discovered once again and the process is repeated.

Many of the people I met admitted to drug use for a variety of reasons. These included physical and sexual abuse quite often from close family and even parents and relatives. Early addiction either from mothers who were users and they were born addicts, given drugs from an early age, some because of mental health issues, alchohol fetal syndrome etc. Some confided in me that if they could not get out of it on a regular basis they would probably be unable to cope and have a major meltdown and probably wind up back in jail again.

For a considerable number of people the first place they go to when let out of prison is Queen Street, this is where their "family" is and the first few days are spent finding their feet again. In too many cases they have nowhere to go and too little money for accomadation so they sleep rough on or around Queen Street. In some cases after a few days some of their old problems or weaknesses reoccur and an arrest may follow and so the cycle repeats.
It took me a while to work out what "family" were as I heard many times about someone's aunty or cousin who was on Queen Street and realised they could not all be related, however most residents on the street refered to their mates on the street as Family.

For many a spell in Mount Eden prison was no real hardship as a number had family, real or street, already in there. Some didn't mind being arrested although as I was told it was all a matter of timing, as if you arrived too late you would miss dinner and/or breakfast before the first prison van left for the courts.

One lady was particularly staunch some days sportng black eye or eyes along with other cuts and bruises. I offered her a position as my personal bodyguard as even I was scared of her, even with her being half my size. She would disappear for a few days normally to prison or doing community work up at Oraki Marae working in the gardens which she loved, often working ten hour days quite happily. We would meet a few days later by which time she would be clean and fresh, however this would not last long and a few days later she would be back to her old ways but always greeted me with hugs and kisses much to the consternation of the passers by who would nod towards me and her no dought saying to their young offspring "see what happens when you don't do your schoolwork and study hard, you will end up on Queen Street looking like these two losers".

One character who was a regular, was a rather large chap who would just turn up on Queen Street, settle on one of the benches and just sit there sometimes for months at a time. He had a regular support group who looked after him and never let him go hungry. I used to buy him a pie and a coke every now and again and grab a few photos. He was a tremendous anchor point for "family" and always had a group with him which would attract the attention of the police. He would last for some number of months and would eventually get trespassed further and further up Queen Street until he was almost out of sight, however his health would deteriate slowly over this time and he would wind up in hospital, then on to a home. This occured a few times, however he seemed genuinely happy each time he was back on the street with family and friends. It was always good to catch up each time this occured.

Another character was "the lawyer" who when served with various trespass notices would go up to the library, study all the relavent laws covering Queen Street, then go to court very well prepared and in some cases have the charges dropped as they were not valid or procedures had not been followed correctly. He was used by "Family" on a regular basis to check on their rights, hence the nickname 'the Lawyer'. We had a rather immature game where as I walked by I would call out in an angry tone "hey why don't you get a job" he would pretend to fire up and we would both be standing in the middle of Queen Street yelling at each other much to the horror of passers by who would give us a wide berth as they all thought it was real. I guess it would sound a little immature to most people but we both enjoyed the game and helped pass the time. I was shown a copy of his police record and soon realised why he had so much first hand knowledge of the law and its working. He was also reasonably popular with a number of shop managers with some bringing him coffee every morning as he would literally camp (live) on thier door step for months at time with all his worldly possessions on the street with him. Every now and again he would be arrested on some minor charge and while was gone the council would be call by and all his posessions taken away as rubbish. This was an annoying setback but in a few days he would collect a new stash including clothes and bedding and carry on as before. There would be the odd occasion where things would get a little heated as some shop owners and workers tried to move him on. This did not really work as the younger female shop managers in the surrounding area liked him, treating him well and would immediatly come to his defence. In one event I witnessed the female manager got stuck in to the other complaints when threats were made towards him. I would sometimes step in to help diffuse the situation and on one ocassion was mistaken as a complaintent as I got a dressing down from one of the female managers. He is probably still there today.

Not all photos were of people living on the street. There was one particular young lady who always caught my eye. I took a couple of photos of her at different times, however on this particular day she was looking particulaly spectacular in a bright red dress and a red rose in her hair. I asked for a quick photo but just at that moment the lights changed and the cross now sign came on. She replied she was in a hurry and did not have time to stop and proceeded to cross the road, however she must have felt unhappy about her decision and turned at that precice moment and gave me a lovely smile and went on her way. I put it on my Humans of Queen Street page that night and it recieved over 24,000 page views. Amy posted on the page that she was sorry she could not stop however if she had the photo would not have been so spectacular.

There was one particular fellow who was on Queen Street for the whole time I was. It took some time to establish some sort of rapport with him and get a photo. I was to learn he had no address and he told me that he would just walk all day untill he grew tired, then basically sleep in some cases where he stopped, I enquired as to where and he just pointed to the bench we were standing by. He was very well spoken and was the same age as me. I had trouble reconciling the fact that he just wandered the street and had no place to call home. He seemed quite happy and appeared to eat well, on some occasions we would pass several times on some days. I would see him given money on a number of occasions and I would as well. I always felt embarressed as I could see he was uncomfortable taking cash, so in the early days I would give him $20 or so saying that I had just picked it up off the street and I was sure it was his, later I would just give him the money which was always followed by a quiet thank you. I was not the only one who gave generously, I saw one particular taxi driver I got to know quite well, James, who was from Iran go out of his way to cross the road to give a little to make his day easier. It changed my opinion of Taxi drivers. One day in early winter he was sporting an expensive full length new or near new Kathmandu puffer jacket. When I enquired as to where it came from he said a woman gave it to him because it was cold and wet and she wanted him to be warm. He wore it every day and when I last saw him he was still wearing it. It was not uncommon to see him sleeping on cardboard in the open during the day. One day when we both were wandering Queen Street it was obvious he had been in some sort of trouble as he had a black eye and some reasonable facial scratches. He is a very peacful gentle sort of person so when I enquired as to what happened, he explained someone had done it for no reason. When I asked as to what happened to the perpetrator he quietly replied that "his guys" had got him back and it would not be a problem in the future. I was pretty pleased to hear that the "Queen Street famliy" had sorted it for him. In hind sight I often thought I should have done more to help him as he admitted a few times he was getting tired and it would end soon. I can only guess what that may have meant. At the time I had to remind myself that I was an observer and that every person is in control of their own destiny and can do as they wish and it was not my place to comment or judge. This was something I had to remind myself almost daily.

Around this time I would be walking up Queen Street listening to the Radio, in particular 1ZB and Leighton Smith. This would stir me up especially when the subject was homeless people and how the National government refused to admit it was a problem. I spoke to Leighton a number of times and even sent him some recent photos which did help him and some listeners hopefully to change attitudes. I used to love the Rednecks calling for all the homeless to be sent to boot camps to teach them how to work, etc, etc. I could not work out how it was going to make all these people I had recently met on the street to overcome both the mental and physical handicaps I saw every day. One particular chap I new had very little in the way of legs and I am still unsure as how the hell making him run up and down hills was going to overcome his severe handicap. I am still waiting for someone to tell me...

The amusing thing at this time was I would be visiting the likes of 277 shopping center in Newmarket and be greeted by one of the guys I new from Queen Street. When I enquired as to what he was doing in this part of town he explained he had been put up in a motel up the road costing $700 to $800 a week. National budgeted on 2 or 3 million dollars to assist the homeless however this blew out to $42 million in under six months.

As my time on Queen Street drew to a close I redoubled my efforts to get a nunber of portraits I had been missing for various reasons. One person I was missing was a rather large guy who was always wandering Queen Street and surrounded quite often with only a blanket around his shoulders. I saw him sleeping rough a number of times around town and never had much in the way of posessions. He was walking towards me one day head hunched over looking at the ground so I took a deep breath, introduced myself and requested a photo. His reply was "I like having my picture taken" and "what should I do". I almost wept, here was this guy who I had been reluctant to engage with for the last five years only to find he reacted and spoke like a ten year old child. He sat calmly in Vulcan Lane as we tried to sort out the best angles as I always attempt to take the most flattering photo possible. His main concern was he had a rather large indentation in his head above one eye which he explained was caused by an acccident he had when he was a child. Apparently a steel gate hit him. The photo came out quite well and he viewed it seeming quite pleased with the outcome. I can only suggest this as I don't know for sure but could be the reason why he spoke and behaved as he did. I gave him quite a large donation as a thank you for his time however it was probably motived by my shame over my pre judgent of a fellow human on Queen Street. After all these years on the street I realised I new very little. Here was a person who I had judged by his looks alone with no background imformation at all. I guess many others made up their own mind about him as many would have seen him on a daily basis and as I was intimidated by his outward appearance.

Another couple of characters I met were Mikey and Brucey. They lived on the streets and various other places. Brucey was always up for a hot chocolate and a muffin. Steve and I used to meet with him at a cafe in High Street to discuss world affairs. One day when he was in town for a few days I enquired as to where he was staying and the reply was on Fort Street. I enquired as to were exactly on Fort Street, a boarding house or a back packers maybe? Steve interrupted telling me that I did not understand, on Fort Street meant literally that, ON the street. The old police station down there had some reasonable cover and the area was well lit and pretty busy at night and was apparently safe. Brucey would leave his pack down there during the day assuring us it would be ok as mates down there would keep an eye on it. I would buy Brucey something to eat now and again and observed him giving half away to "Family" on Queen Street. At one stage Brucey converted to Islam and lived at a mosque, this however ended in tears. However it was fascinating seeing him on Queen Street in full Arabic regalia including white robes, scarf and Egal which holds the scarf in place. He would greet all the students in their native tongue and appeared to have a reasonable command of the language. Steve and I would tease him about him being a terrorist and ask him not to attack us two old men to which he replied he was a peacful person. He eventually moved to Wellington as a number of his mates did as they were well looked after down there. I guess that's where all the Politicians and embassies are so there is a much stronger focus on keeping the streets looking tidy.

Mikey was his "brother" and was one day introduced to his "parents". I am a little unsure if they were his real parents or "family". He was always good to talk to as he had many adventures underway at any one time, these included film making amongst many others. One particular adventure saw him, "Johnny Cool" and his wife undertake a trip to South America. The story I heard on the street was that somehow Mikey got involved in taking a "package" to Europe for someone he met in Brazil. He was arrested and put in jail along with Johnny and held there for some months. Mikey has a extremely vivid imagination and the investigators had huge difficulty in trying to make any head way in their investigations. After a while they contacted New Zealand police who in turn contacted Mikeys mother who explained a few things about Mikeys unusal behavoural patterns, this in turn led her to fly to Europe to bring him home. I understand all charges were dropped and Johnny was released as well. Mikey is alive and well living in Wellington.

Johnny Cool was always dressed as a pirate and apparently the only person who was allowed to practice with nunchucks in Aotea Square. He gave me a demonstration one day and I was pleased to leave unscathed. I met him in McDonald's Queen Street just before I came home when he confirmed the story of his and Mikeys European adventures.

When I first began shooting on the street I had some concerns as to how an older man would be percieved taking photos of younger ladies. The first attempt was with a young lady who had all the interesting features I thought would look great; ink, radical hair and peircings. I mustered all the courage I could stopping her in mid stride with the great opening line of "excuse me, do you mind if I take your picture" to which she replied "why". This wasn't what I had prepared for so I just blurted out the first thing that came to mind "I'm just a dirty old man who wants to take photos of pretty young ladies". She looked me straight in the eye and said "at least you're honest, go ahead, where do you want me to stand?". We both had a laugh, I grabbed a couple of photos and said goodbye. I met her on Queen Street a few more times and took some better photos. She introduced me to her mother one day when they were both in town for lunch.

Another young woman I randomly stopped one day for a photo had trouble keeping her eyes open when I took the shot. I requested if she could open her eyes a little more which she did, a number of years later that photo still makes me smile. I saw her on Queen Street a few times over the following years and took a few more photos. The last time I saw her was at the the bottom of Queen Street when I was with my wife, she looked stunning. I was struggling for words which is unheard of from me, and said something random. I guessed she could see me stumbling for words to which she said "I guess this is the first time you have seen me with my clothes on". We both laughed and parted company. My wife looked at me and said I wonder what she does for a living... I said I don't know but I could only guess. I think she is lovely.

One young women who I met early on was a trending Goth from Papamoa, not far from my home town. Our paths crossed a number of times and I was always pleased to see her and see her progress. Nadia was quite happy to pose for me and did so regularly. The photos are of a quite random nature. She left town to move to Wellington, however a chance meeting in Queen Street one evening, we had a chat and agreed to catch up for a semi formal photo shoot the next day. Nadia and her partner were a little late as the complete make up routine could take up to an hour and a half. I took some wonderful photos of them both. Nadia has this rare ability to look straight at the camera and not blink or move and hold a pose naturally. I know Goths and their lifestyle is not everyones cup of tea however I found Nadia and her friends great. I went to a gathering of Goths, not sure what that is called, and one guy came over and suggested that my bright pink scarf was not suitable for this type of gathering. I quickly removed it and put it in my bag, the guys saw me do it and were quick to point out it was a joke and we had a laugh about it. Nadia's latest look is stunning and she does all her own make up and clothes. I personally like her look and love her open friendly nature, her willingness to pose early on helped me to gain confidence when approaching young ladies on the street.

One problem when taking photos of young ladies is some are very critical of their own looks. These women are not models and that is not what I wanted. I was always looking for a certian style or look. I personally love the look of freckles and found it almost impossible to find examples on the street. Many of the women I approached had them covered with make up, a number sort of agreed to a photo however it seldom eventuated. It seemed that teasing in their earlier school years about their looks has unfortunatly led many of them to believe they were less attractive than other girls who don't have them. I am not the only street photographer to express how few examples there are to photograph. One young women I met was unsure of my motives however agreed to my request and I think the results were stunning. She contacted me a few days later to tell me how much she liked the photo and could she have a high resolution copy for her mother. It pleased me immensley.

A number of times I took photos of younger women only to be contacted through facebook while running my Humans of Queen Street page to be told to remove thier photo in no uncertian terms to remove it as they thought they looked unattractive. l never understood however a number of times I removed photos at their request. On another occassion I spied a young couple walking up Wellesley St, she had a huge bunch of flowers and it was obvious they were both madly in love. I stopped them for the usual photo request which they reluctanatly agreed to after explaining they had just had lunch at Sky City where he had proposed and she had accepted. It was hard to get a decent photo in the street and published the story. Early in the evening I received an urgent message requesting I take down the post as only very close family knew and I understand her grand partents knew nothing about it. However by this time it had taken off and one of her friends had seen it and shared it all over the place. She called back a few minutes later saying "too late everyone has seen it" and was pleased with the excitement that it had generated on their special day.

One of the more horrific stories I had recounted to me was from a young Maori man with whom I had quite a long chat to about life in general. The longer we talked the more visibly upset he became and eventually the story came out. He recounted how he had been repeatedly sexually abused by both his father and his uncle when he was young and how at around twelve years of age he walked out to live on the streets. His anger was tremendous, as we talked further he explained to me that he was quite small then but had now grown into a tall well built man. He went on to state how that if anbody touched him now in any way shape of form he would damage them permanently in no uncertian terms. This had caused him a few run ins with the law. I never really new what to say in these cases but I guess just listening to him, hearing his and others experiences, may have helped a little. I saw hin on and around Queen Street for a few months then he disappeared as many so often did. I hoped it ended well but some how in all probabllity not.

There were and I guess still are a significant number of people on Queen Street who are on perscription drugs . I would often talk to one guy who had been a rough sleeper for a number of years who had a series of issues which necesssitated a significent number of meds. The conversation usually relvolved around his pills which he showed me a few times and was curious as to which did what. I had a look at them as he was thinking about stopping taking some or all of them as they made him feel drowsy. I looked them up and after seeing what they were for strongly reccomended he continue with them. He was and still is a Queen Street regular carrying all his posessions in his pack as did a number others in his situation. It always seemed to how unsatisfactory it was that someone with his illness and medication level was just left to live on and spend all day wandering Queen street.

Many of the guys would congregrate at the Auckland library. In the morning there was always a que to get in and get to the computers on the first floor as were available for an hour at that time. It was always warm there in winter and had somewhere to charge your phone or watch a movie using the free WiFi available. The main security guard there was well known to all and ruled the place with an iron fist. All were welcome provided they behaved, were not too smelly, noisy, rowdy and if they wished to doze had to remain sitting up not lying down. One rough sleeper had an I Pad which he told me his kids had given him, would get cosy and pass the day watching movies.

There wre a number of changes in the population makeup On Queen street over this time as well, initially there were a high number of Chinese students in Queen Street easily identifiable by their clothing and style, this also included the cars driven and parked in Queen Street, some costing many hundreds of thousands. There was one located across the road from me, a Lamborgini would regularly have its appearance changed by its young owner from a Bat Mobile to a LA police car to something else. One day there was an altercation between him an a local driver who he had cut off and demanded he get out to discuss matters, I think he was suprised when the door opened and from behind the tinted glass appeared short a teenage boy of around twenty years of age wearing jandals.They went on their way after he was given a rather stern lecture on how to drive in Auckand. As time went on the local population changed with a noticible increase in Indian students and a corresponding drop in Chinese. This change also had a coresponding change in the local food mart shops, as one of the managers told me the Chinese students would come in and spend up large on things like chocolate bars, junk food etc and not care about the cost however he bemoaned that the Indian students were all on a tight budget and would not shop with him and would go up to the local supermarket as it was cheaper, this cut his turnover in half. I had lunch on a number of occasions with Indian students who certianly new where the cheapest fast food combos were. One explained that he had $2500 to last him the year and seemed pleased tht halfway througt the year he still had just over $1500. The accomodation was equally tight with often large numbers sharing a flat. On one occasion a building manager explained that he wondered where they were all going, as he watched the security tapes, he checked one room and found fourteen in there. He evicted most of them only to look at the tapes later to see them all return. I understand some shared a bed in twelve hour stints which may have explained why there were always large numbers on Queen Street at any one time as they had to leave for twelve hours. When viewing Apartments on trade me there were floors literally covered in sleeping bags.

One evening I approached a fellow who posessed a remarkable full face moko and after a little negotiation $20 was the amount I would have to pay to get a photo. He also explained he had just been released from prison and seemed to be under the influence of something. I took the photo and we parted company. The next day I recieved a text from him demanding a meeting to "discuss" the previous evening. I always give a card which is how he was able to contact me. We agreed to meet outside the library where I thought I could seek refuge if required as the texts were a little threatening. As I approached I could see a group of guys hanging around looking a little unhappy however I wandered over to him to see what It was all about, at that point one of the bigger guys turned around looked at me and said " hey whats up my bro " it was someone I have known on the street for a number of years and have a good relationship with. Every one relaxed once they new I was family and and my reason for the photo was explained again, reasuring him it was all good I showed him a copy on my phone. I made the offer of a copy for him but as he explained he had limited access to the internet so I went upstairs in the library and had a couple of copies printed out. He was waiting down stairs with a mate and when he saw them went very quiet, his mate was pretty impressed though commenting on how staunch he looked. His mate wandered off and he was still staring at the picture just given to him, I could see the tears welling up in his eyes, I commented on what a great photo it was to which he agreed. We shook hands and parted company.

Another time when the downtown food court was still operating I ran in to Tame Iti whom I approached for a photo His reply was "sure if you buy me lunch" I agreed and Chinese food it was. We chatted a little as we ate and then it was downstairs for a photo. On the way he purchased a new had which is one of his signature trademarks. He also stipulated the picture was not to be used commercially with out his permission and I was only allowed one which is a little difficult as you normally take a couple as you are never sure how they will turn out on the street as and number of factors can influence the outcome, however I took one and it came out fine.

I attended a few protests over the time one in particular was at the ANZ Events center in the viaduct, on this occasion all I was hoping for was a couple of reasonable shots however it was all quite peaceful with all the protesters and the police down one end. One protester was checking out the security fence right out in front of the center some twenty meters away from all the comotion down the other end whe he discovered the two meter high fence was not secured to anything and when he pulled on it it started to fall down upon seeing this two others ran over to help and the whole thirty meter fence fell over and all the protsters were just milling around not wishing to get involved in the confrontation at the other end had the opportunity to simply walk in the front door. Considerable panic ensued as the police, security and the rest of the protesters ran to the now exposed front door. There was one lonley female police officer standing where what was a two meter covered fence ws now on her own against thirty or so protesters. There was considerable pushing and shoving which resulted in the protesters taking control of the main enterance. I got a great shot of her face as the crowd ran at her. There was significant preasure on the police that day and I was impressed at the way they remained calm and well behaved while under considerable abuse both verbal and physical. I photographed one policeman being punched in the head and saw no retaliation at all, not sure I would act that way if someone hit me like that.

After nearly six years on Queen Street I have moved.


Please note: I am not a professional photographer and Mike Wheelton Photography is just the name that I chose for the site. This site has nothing to do with me gaining any exposure for business purposes of financial gain.
Photos such as on the sleepers page and some on the scenes page are primarily to highlight the disparity I see between the have and the have nots in less than one square mile of Auckland City. I have no particular political agenda, however some of the photos leave me feeling particularly sad about what has become normal life in New Zealand's biggest city.

 

Below is a small selection from each of the categories. Use the links on the left or More> beside the categories, to go to the full set of photos. Some may feature on my Facebook page Humans of Queen St.

 

Mike Wheelton street photographer. Colour and black and white. Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand. Mike Wheelton street photographer. Colour and black and white. Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand. Mike Wheelton street photographer. Colour and black and white. Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand.

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Faces>

 
Mike Wheelton street photographer. The largest collection of colour, black and white street photography. Taken in and around Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand. Mike Wheelton street photographer. The largest collection of colour, black and white street photography. Taken in and around Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand.
Mike Wheelton street photographer. The largest collection of colour, black and white street photography. Taken in and around Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand.


Ink on Queen>

Mike Wheelton street photographer. Colour and black and white. Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand.

 

Mike Wheelton street photographer. Colour and black and white. Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand.

 

Mike Wheelton photo storyteller. The largest collection of colour, black and white street photography. Taken in and around Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand.

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Ladies>
Mike Wheelton street photographer. Colour and black and white. Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand. Mike Wheelton photo storyteller. The largest collection of colour, black and white street photography. Taken in and around Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand. Mike Wheelton street photographer. The largest collection of colour, black and white street photography. Taken in and around Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand. More
Scenes >
Mike Wheelton photo storyteller. The largest collection of colour, black and white street photography. Taken in and around Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand. Mike Wheelton street photographer. Colour, black and white street photography. Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand. Mike Wheelton photo storyteller. The largest collection of colour, black and white street photography. Taken in and around Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand. Top Selection>
Mike Wheelton street photographer. Colour and black and white. Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand. Mike Wheelton street photographer. Colour, black and white street photography. Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand. Mike Wheelton street photographer. Colour, black and white street photography. Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand. More
Sleepers
Priscilla Queen of the Desert opening night Oct 29016 Mike Wheelton photo storyteller. The largest collection of colour, black and white street photography. Taken in and around Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand. Priscilla Queen of the Desert opening night Oct 29016 Mike Wheelton photo storyteller. The largest collection of colour, black and white street photography. Taken in and around Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand. Priscilla Queen of the Desert opening night Oct 29016 Mike Wheelton photo storyteller. The largest collection of colour, black and white street photography. Taken in and around Queen Street, Auckland city, New Zealand.

Priscilla Queen
of the Desert

A series of photos taken using the headlamps of wrecked cars as the focus point. mike wheelton photography sea and landscapes More
Seascapes, Landscapes, Architecture and Streets >