MINI-WHAT?

Tucked away in a somewhat hidden valley in Wellington is a fascinating mini-putt course, but it’s rather more for the weird constructions-cum-statuary that it is worth a visit. Connecting the Suburb of Brooklyn to the south coast is ‘Happy Valley’. There are a few houses, a few shops and a few factories, and Carlucci Land Mini Golf. I remember many years ago whenever you drove up or down the valley there was always something happening in the jumble of ‘stuff’ that was piled around a section about halfway that at best could be described as a junk-yard. It was fascinating stuff being created from stone, steel, recovered industrial wreckage of one kind or another. Animals of all sorts, abstract statues, and indescribable ‘things’ that were doubtless meant to be something.

Last time I visited the City however, when we went down Happy Valley it wasn’t to visit the junk-yard but to take my grandson to what part of the property had become- Carlucci Land Mini Putt golf ‘course’.Nathan had told me proudly of his last golfing exploit when he “…beat Daddy- I got a hole in one!” His father assures me it was a legitimate ‘ace’ even though the rest of the game was completed in a few more than 17!! I think Chris, Nathan’s dad kept score, at least for a while (he is a very competitive young man) and we all managed to get holes in one, but as I said, the ‘art and craft’of the place was the greater source of fascination for me. The owners of the property have, for very many years been collecting all sorts of ‘junk’ from an almost endless number of sources-from building demolitions to detritus of the sea, from domestic cast-offs to unwanted ‘signs of the times’, from unwanted tools to outdated machinery. It would seem that nothing is worth nothing to these guys although the growing number of degradable iconsof a by-gone age such as books and pictures and the like become exhibits in their own right rather than being combined with bits of this and pieces of that to create a new piece of ‘art’. There is a very real sense that an artist is at work here rather than a talentless artisan simply usingthe tools of his trade in some aimless exercise in construction. Certainly there are many many ‘fairytale’ creatures such asinsects and dragons,as there are obvious original statuesand ornaments. There is a lot of the zany and clever glimpses of irony, sarcasm and social commentary. All around the man-made objects and interspersed among them are signs from days gone by that are used to create fun statements or ‘messages’.

So it’s a fun place. Of course the game of mini-putt has its own elements of fun, too. It’s not your up-market, sophisticated, hi-tech designed establishment but a course constructed of recycled hockey park artificial-turf,bricks rescued from a demolition, pvc off-cuts and little else. But it works, and it works on many levels, holes trundling past statues, some around ‘monuments’, others by free-form abstracts. Nice day out, especially with a busy wee man.

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