Ghost hunter at work in Auckland
Mark Wallbank doesn't claim to have undeniable proof that supernatural beings exist, nor is he able to explain them, despite spending most of his life trying to find the answers.
Mr Wallbank is the leader of paranormal investigation group Haunted Auckland.
By day members hold down jobs in science, teaching and accounting but after hours they turn their attention to studying and documenting the eerie and sometimes frightening.
"We readily admit we don't know what ghosts are. We've been doing this for years, but we don't know why they are here, or where they come from," Mr Wallbank says.
"Anyone who does claim to know what ghosts are is fooling themselves.
"If we had conclusive evidence then science would accept it and it would be out there."
Haunted Auckland has investigated hundreds of homes, as well as high profile public buildings including The Civic theatre.
The Civic didn't turn up much apart from an ambiguous audio recording.
The most haunted places are just average houses, Mr Wallbank says.
"It takes a lot for us to say a place is haunted, we've got to have a lot of proof first. It's not very often we do come out and say ‘this place is haunted'," he says.
One theory is that ghosts, whatever they are, are made up of energy.
This could could be heat, light or electricity.
For this reason the team use a range of gadgets including thermometers and electro-magnetic field monitors to detect changes in the environment.
Many investigations reveal nothing and Mr Wallbank admits the group spend a good portion of their time sitting in the dark just waiting.
On the flip side there are the cases that leave members in awe.
One of the most fascinating investigations Mr Wallbank has been a part of was at a family home in New Lynn.
The building had a chequered history and had previously been a gang headquarters, brothel and drug house.
"There had been quite a lot of activity in the house from apparitions appearing in doorways to people being touched and hearing voices," Mr Wallbank says.
The team spent all night in the house and at about 3am they started to get responses to their questions in the form of tapping.
The presence was apparently Jonathan Lockley, a boy who died of illness in the house during the 1960s.
"We talked to him for about an hour and managed to get answers to most of what we asked," Mr Wallbank says.
"I'm quite a skeptic myself and I was blown away by the whole thing."
They are still trying to confirm if the story adds up, but they are hopeful.
Mr Wallbank has been interested in the paranormal since childhood.
"I just got bored with normal life and was looking at everything that was unusual. I was really fascinated by old buildings and history and as I got older I went with it."
- © Fairfax NZ News
Are our classrooms becoming overcrowded?