The Eye of the Fish

January 24, 2011

The Year Ahead

The Fish’s Predictions for 2011:

Prediction # 1
Firstly, there will have to be some progress on the work around the Basin Reserve. It has been the slowest consultation job in the world so far – to the point of absolutely no consultation yet at all. Is NZTA / Transit asleep at the wheel? Shouldn’t they pull over and take a break, and let someone else steer the bus (or Light Rail)? Can someone give them a ticket for driving too slow?

Prediction # 2
We’ve watched and talked as the Manners Mall got mauled, rucked, and then booted into submission. Not one of the highlights of the year, but at least no one has died, yet, although the hit rate currently stands at 5. Let’s face it – the buses are far too big for that road, and people in the centre of town are drunk and disorderly. Somebody will get plastered, and then get plastered all over the road. Probably during the Rugby….

Prediction # 3
The Indoor Sports Stadium will open this year, and it has being going pretty smoothly so far. The roof looks like it has been sewn on well, so that probably won’t take off. But this is the time for predictions, and so we’ll predict that : either

A : a tsunami will wash it away, or
B : torrential rains will fill the basement carpark and it will float down the harbour, or
C : it will cause massive traffic problems and there will be letters to the paper calling for it to be shut down.
The last one seems slightly more likely.

Prediction # 4
The Hobbit will drive a new wave of furry foot mania and confidence in Wellington, and house prices in Seatoun and Karaka Bay will stay out of reach from any mere mortal who isn’t working at Weta. Ben Hana will get a part, either as Smaug or as a drunken Elf Lord. And Martin Freeman will continue to be spotted around town wearing nice cravats, looking non-plussed at all the attention, and perhaps will take up permanent residence at the Library. Or Bettys.

Or perhaps he will just use that Precious ring and use it to make himself invisible as he moves amongst us, smiling glumly in that curious upside-down-mouth smile he has.

Prediction # 5
Celia Wade-Brown will get her ballroom dancing game on, and give her pathetic bunch of councilors a well-deserved prod up the backside. A report will be commissioned from an overseas expert on Public Transport, and for once it won’t be stacked by pro-car, pro-busway proponents.

We predict that instead, it will be denounced immediately by Councilor John Morrison as being pro-Light Rail. Well, duh !!!

Prediction # 6
There will be a major development that finally gets underway, as the developer driven housing market finally crawls back to life. The banks have got all our money, so they will have to loan some of it back to us at some stage.

There are a few massive big holes along Wakefield Street and one of them will surely have to be filled by year end. I’m picking…. maybe the back of Readings? It’s criminal to have it sitting empty for so long.

Prediction # 7
And lastly, the question of heritage will get raised again and taken a lot more seriously than before. We were going to say something typically provocative about the Chow brothers chopping down another heritage tree, or knocking down another heritage building – but they bet us to it, with the demolition of the old Settlement building this week. Our previous statement where we said we thought they were not to be trusted with – well, not with much at all – and certainly not with a heritage building, seems to have come true already, but there are so many times that they can play the “we didn’t know” card. Still, despite their alleged $100million property portfolio, there is a lot of Wellington that they do not own yet.

But heritage is at risk, not just from Chows, but most obviously of all, from the Big One – earthquake that is well overdue. The Council needs to take a serious look at what buildings it honestly does want to stay on in the townscape after our big shakedown. So – our final prediction – either
A : a massive earthquake in Wellington, with loss of buildings and life; or
B : the Council decides to act sooner on earthquake-prone unreinforced masonry buildings in Wellington.
Which would you rather it was?

24 - 01 - 11

My hopeful prediction – the insolvency of the dominion post. I used to just see it as worthless garbage, but the amout of garbage they’ve pulled out for Kerry and against Celia has been despicable. This whole email thing is shameless. I hope every lot of them lose their jobs.

24 - 01 - 11

The whole thing could have been predicted on election night – votes too close to call.
Morning Herald headline “Welly election too close to call”
Dom Post “Kerry wins again (then in small print, may be overturned)”

My cat produces better work in her litter tray.

24 - 01 - 11

sigh… true, too true. It really is an appalling paper – but the even sadder thing is that even smaller papers are worse. The Hawkes Bay Today newspaper proudly carries a banner headline stating that it won Best Regional Paper of the year last year – to which you can only reply, that if that is the best, then you really don’t want to see the worst.

The world is likely to be rocked with the (soon to be launched) iPad newspaper, saving trees and ink. The good news is that there are 150 journalists assigned to the paper, specifically to write for it. The bad news is that it is backed by Murdoch, who owns Fairfax, who own our very own Dominion Post.

The entire financial model on which the newspapers exist is defunct and redundant. The newspaper is nowadays primarily a means to distribute advertising to the masses: news is a costly and therefore increasingly unsupported add-on. But: I don’t want to buy things advertised in the paper. I don’t need a new 42″ flatscreen TV every night of the week, nor will I shop at New World or PaknSave just to buy a 3 litre bottle of CocaCola for cheaper than a litre of petrol.

The Newspaper is dead. Long live the Blog!

Eye of the Fish | A wide-angle view of architecture, urban design and life in Wellington
24 - 01 - 11

[…] 2009: At the beach The year ahead On the buses Grand Designs Big Day Out Century City Ho […]

Jeff Rowe
24 - 01 - 11

I hopefully predict the demise of Councilor Morrison on the Radio Sport Cricket Commentary team. His blatant misuse of this position to espouse his conservative, car-favouring, anti-everything political views is outrageous.

Then I’ll be able to listen to cricket commentary again.

24 - 01 - 11

well, my only other predictions is that this year is going to be a much more urban friendly one for me. After a two year stint in the car dependant suburbs, I am moving in two weeks to the centre of kelburn. I’m so happy to be transitioning from not being able to walk to any service, to being able to walk to several. Plus the city centre is 10 minutes max. so happy…..
This leads to another post topic that’s been in my head, but needs some work. Look for it soon….

Kent Duston
24 - 01 - 11

My prediction – rather optimistically – is that we will finally make some headway on the leaky homes fiasco. I know it’s a $100 million liability for ratepayers, I know it was completely avoidable, I know there are multiple parties at fault (take a bow, BRANZ), but there comes a time when we have to stop debating the past and provide a way forward for the families trapped in these rotting buildings. Enough’s enough – let’s start fixing the problem, starting this year.

And I’m not too discouraged by the car-centric useless numpties at the NZ Transport Agency. They have yet to start molesting the Basin Reserve (as petrol prices climb through $2/litre), it’s an election year, and given the fights that Steven Joyce has bought himself over the Kapiti Expressway, the Holiday Highway and the Waterview Connection, perhaps sanity has prevailed and NZTA is thinking twice about creating a shit-fight for their political masters.

24 - 01 - 11

Kent – you reckon? About the numpties at NZTA?
I’m worried about the multitude of portacabins that have suddenly sprouted up on the route of the bypass/overpass/memorial park. What are they doing there if they are not about to start work without any consultation at all?
Have they decided to dig tunnels under the floorboards of the portacabins (as per The Great Escape) and they’re hoping we Wellingtonians won’t notice?

24 - 01 - 11

Oh – and – your predictions aren’t going to last a whole year. At the rate they’re proving true, they’ll be gone by lunchtime.

26 - 01 - 11

Re the Heritage prediction – text taken from the WCC statement issued on the Settlement demolition:

Demolition of Settlement Building – Clarification

“…. the Settlement building was not listed in the City Council’s heritage inventory nor was it registered with the Historic Places Trust (NZHPT). Cr Pannett says the NZHPT was contacted to let them know a consent to demolish the building had been issued this week. The applicants’ consultants were also once again advised that the building was pre-1900 vintage and that they therefore had to contact NZHPT to confirm whether an archaeological authority was required. NZHPT is understood to have acted promptly on the Council’s advice, visiting the site and issued the stop work notice. …Cr Pannett says the Council is reviewing what heritage exists within the city to enable the Council to decide what should be protected and the priority order that this be done.

“There are a number of old buildings around the city that some people imagine have automatic heritage protection – but they don’t. Most have been left off the District Plan list for good reasons.

“However it’s timely for us to continue evaluating our heritage policies – especially in light of changes over the past decade to the District Plan – and also because of events like the Canterbury earthquake.

“The quake has clearly thrown heritage issues into sharp focus.”

Kent Duston
26 - 01 - 11

Alan – the Portacabins by the putative Memorial Park That Isn’t Actually A Park Yet And Which The Government Seems To Be Procrastinating Endlessly Over (or the snappy MPTIAAPYAWTGSTBPEO acronym for short) are for the upgrades of the Terrace and Mt Vic tunnels.

The upgrade is being run by the Wellington Tunnels Alliance, which is a joint venture between NZTA, the responsible local bodies and the international contracting company. They are the people who are stripping the Terrace tunnel at the moment, before they install the safety equipment that will prevent more motorists from dying in tunnel fires … oh wait, that’s never happened in either tunnel, ever.

The NZ Transport Agency has a very strange idea of safety – they are spending millions to avoid the non-existent deaths from tunnel fires, whilst refusing to commit to filtering the exhaust fumes from the Mt Vic tunnel that are being vented into the grounds of Wellington East Girl’s College. Apparently the ongoing gassing of school children is not really a safety issue that concerns NZTA.

Anyhow, the Wellington Tunnels Alliance is the stalking-horse for NZTA making a quiet decision about the location of the second Mt Victoria tunnel without any public consultation. They are using the argument that they need to make a decision on where the infrastructure for the upgrades should be located (think: ventilation systems and the like) so they don’t have to be moved later when the second tunnel is built. The timing of the second tunnel should roughly coincide with petrol reaching $5/litre, which based on current track record won’t faze Steven Joyce in the slightest.

The effect will be that when the location of the second Mt Vic tunnel does finally get debated, NZTA will be able to say “it has to go through Paterson Street, because we’ve already located the ventilation equipment and moving it will cost miiiiiilllllliiiiionnnnns …” – effectively ruling out all the smarter options from The Architecture Centre.

So yes, I was being polite in calling NZTA a collection of useless numpties. In truth, I think calling them that is an insult to all the *genuine* useless numpties on the planet.

26 - 01 - 11

since this whole need for the inner city bypass, terrace tunnel duplication, basin flyover, and duplication of mt. vic tunnels is predicated on the transport plan from Ngauranga gorge to the airport, why didn’t we just build a tunnel from the gorge to miramar? The cheaper option would be one of those floating bridge jobbies like Lake Washington (seattle) has two of, but I wouldn’t want to run the visual impact on the harbour. This is my solution. Do not try to find flaws in my logic.

26 - 01 - 11

Or option 2: (and this one is so brilliant that it amazes me I didn’t think of it sooner)
We infill the harbour along side highway 1 from aotea quay to n. gorge and and put the airport there.

26 - 01 - 11

or just go back to using flying boats, like they used to in Auckland with CB Air. Apparently they also had them in Evans Bay – no airport fees – the boat would land with a big spray of water, taxi along to the beach, and the passengers would disembark on the Foreshore, making sure not to fall into the Seabed….

26 - 01 - 11

PS – re the picture for Prediction no. 6 : yes, it was meant to depict the scurvy bunch of developers, not the banks. But, then again, on second thoughts….

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Kent Fleming
26 - 01 - 11

“The bad news is that it is backed by Murdoch, who owns Fairfax, who own our very own Dominion Post.”

Yeah, nah. Fairfax != News Corp.

27 - 01 - 11

Kent – damn, yes, you’re right. I goofed up. Fairfax seem to own nearly all the media in NZ – and Murdoch, through News Corp, owns just a whole mass of Sunday type newspapers in the US, the UK, and Oz. Virtually nothing in NZ – except, that curiously, he seems to own a stake in Fairfax as well. News Corp owns the following, just in case anyone is interested….:

Big League
Daily Telegraph
donna hay
Dow Jones
Gold Coast Bulletin
Harper Collins Publishers
Harper Collins Australia
Harper Collins Canada
Harper Collins Children’s Books
Harper Collins India
Harper Collins New Zealand
Harper Collins US
Harper Collins UK
Herald Sun
Inside Out
New York Post
News America Marketing
News International
News of the World
NT News
Smart Source
Sunday Herald Sun
Sunday Mail
Sunday Tasmanian
Sunday Territorian
Sunday Times
The Advertiser
The Australian
The Courier-Mail
The Mercury
The Sunday Mail
The Sunday Telegraph
The Sun
The Sunday Times
The Times
Times Literary Supplement
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal Digital Network
Weekly Times

27 - 01 - 11

letter in Dom Post today – 27/1/11

OPINION: It’s a tragedy to see the mechanical claw ripping in to The Settlement Restaurant (Jan 20), a once- proud icon of historic interest.

Wellington City Council was late with a stopwork order on an all but demolished building. Its fate was well known since 2006 when there were proposals that included plans to “remove” it. The present team is now in denial about its responsibilities under the Historic Places Act.

Spencer Holmes, responsible for the demolition, had the opportunity to consult colleagues familiar with heritage-type buildings.It should have demanded that a sympathetic approach be taken with this building.

The owners, the Chow brothers, too had a responsibility to understand the significance of their restaurant.

The Historic Places Trust will probably be too pusillanimous to invoke its threat of retribution. Yet another pavement-frontage building devoid of character, in 1960s-style retro, is planned, unlike the building of human scale that was once the Settlement Restaurant.



15 - 02 - 11

Letter: Restoring old buildings
14 Feb 2011
OPINION: In response to Stewart Fraser (Letters, Feb 11): There are heritage developments in Wellington city that have been funded by the city or sold by the city at such an attractive price that they easily turn out to be treasured jewels for the community. In either case the ratepayer pays heavily.

Then there are the others. These may have been owned for years or recently purchased. They can be patched up with chewing gum and string or pulled down.

They can’t be restored and operated on a commercial basis unless the purchase price is ludicrously low.

If you wanted to drive the price to the point of being ludicrously low then you would presumably be prepared to operate in a slum city for a lengthy period of time to achieve this.

We’ve proven our point with case studies several times – we’re not dishonest and our motive is clearly not profit as we’ve acknowledged subsidising these developments. To get private heritage refurbishment adequately resourced in this city we need to think on a mature, long-term and equitable basis, and get over the irrational fear of “private benefit” that dogs many council decisions.


Managing director

15 - 02 - 11

Letter: Developers must live by their choices
11 Feb 2011
OPINION: Wellington property developer Ian Cassels’ request for ratepayer compensation, Weighing up the merits of restoring old buildings, (Feb 5), is brazen indeed.

Ratepayers en masse, as buyers, lease-holders, tenants, and clients, pay every cent of his development cost and subsequent financial gain as it is.

Mr Cassels should more honestly have stated that a developer cannot wring as much profit out of a Historic Places Trust listed-site development.

Why then purchase it for this purpose?

Leave these “pigs” for those who prefer preserving our past to fattening their wallets.


Te Horo Beach