The Eye of the Fish

September 2, 2009

Wellington Super City

There’s a fair amount of non-stop hoo-hah going on about Auckland’s proposed “Super City” status, and it’s time we Wellingtonians started to fight back. Nonewithstanding the fact that Auckland is really barely a city at all, and more just a collection of shopping centres and some nice swimming beaches connected by motorways, Auckland is somehow perceived of by some misguided few as being a proper place to live.


Despite having a downtown as attractive as an Asian brothel and a random architectural assortment of ugly towers, one complete with a toilet seat on top – which sums up the whole down town really – Auckland has a population base stretching over the Isthmus that puts Wellington’s to shame. Couple with the fact that it may be the only place left in NZ that actually has any manufacturing, and we have to face facts that it has the running on Wellington in terms of Large-Suburb status (rather than the nonsensical Super-City).

But what an awful cock-up they’re making over the issues of Maori seats. The sheer arrogance of all concerned in overturning the carefully considered Royal Commission recommendations on Maori seats beggars believe, but then we are talking Act and National – hardly political parties known for their tact. A more simple resolution to the issue would be simply to have all voter use some form of proportional representation, and by sheer dint of the number of Maori and Polynesian voters in the amalgamated cities, there would be a large representation from those ‘minorities’. Auckland’s ethnicity is, according to Wikipedia / Statistics, about 56% Pakeha, 19% Asian, 14% Polynesian, and 11% Maori. Of that, only the Pakeha proportion is going down (it was 66% in 2001). Surely MMP and having the Maori party put forward candidates into the voting would provide a result far better than a token 2 seats?


One day we’re going to have to face a similar call for amalgamation too, with a probable joining of Wellington, Hutt, Upper Hutt, and Porirua, if not Kapiti as well. Is this something we really want? Or need? What are the advantages going to be in Auckland, and what would they supposedly be here? Auckland had thought that amalgamating the councils would permit savings in bureaucracy, but the last I heard was that joining together things like the IT systems alone would cost around $100million for starters, so no great savings there. The main evidence seems to be pointing to mass sackings of Council employees in smaller, lesser needed bureaucracies. Seeing as Auckland has had their say ignored (ie Royal Commission recommendations shelved instantly), it seems that unless we want the poisonous yellow goblin ruling our politics, Wellington needs to start debating its future now.


Of immediate concern to me is that Monocle magazine has just snuck Auckland in as the 20th position on the world’s 25 best cities on which to live. Clearly written by someone who has never been there (Tyler Brule, come to Wellington – you can’t beat us on a good day), the list is topped by Zurich (1st), and followed by cities like Copenhagen (2nd), Tokyo (3rd), Munich (4th), Helsinki (5th), Stockholm (6th), and even Melbourne in 9th place, it sets up ratings based on things like population, international flights, crime, sunshine, tolerance, public transport, architecture, and number of Starbucks, amongst others. Presumably, the lower the number of murders and Starbucks the better.

Re-formed Auckland re-enters our Top 25 after a year’s absence. As the major centre in one of the youngest first world countries, Auckland is like a teenager thrust suddenly into self-awareness: slightly gawky, nearly cool and determined to smile for the cameras when the Rugby World Cup rolls into town in two years’ time.

Zurich, the leader, has a population 361,000 and only 7 murders: which considering that most of Europe’s heroin addicts used to hang out on the streets there, means it has improved a lot since I was last there. Copenhagen has 613,000 and only 6 topping offs, while Auckland compares with 438,000 and moiders 9: with Starbucks 17. The article notes for Auckland that under Public transport: “Cars are cheap here and the city still depends on them, but that ‘things are changing’“. Under Architecture it notes that: “regulations have been tightened in recent years to stop sprawl (yeah, well, THATs not working), and that the Central business district is to be “beautified” by 2014. Ha! Keep trying !

Well, I reckon we can do better. Almost all Wellingtonians would unequivocally agree that Wellington is a far better City to Live In than Auckland – those that don’t agree have already gone north to join the endless kimchee stalls and autobahns that is the Queen City. I’m just going to set up the categories, and let you lot have a go at putting forward suggestions for the categories.
Population: xx, greater metropolitan area yy
International flights: xx destinations, of which zz are intercontinental
Crime: murders x; domestic break-ins y
Sunshine hours: annual average aaaa hours
Tolerance: ie info about foreign-born Wellingtonains and gay couples (couplings). Richard Maclean – any figures at your fingertips (so to speak)?
Public Transport: what info do we have about Wellington public transport and cycling?
Architecture: ahem. Comments please.
Access to nature: Auckland claims brownie points for being on an isthmus and having 2 harbours and nearby surf spots. Surely we can do better than that.
Environmental issues: again, Auckland claims here to be building a new recycling plant, whereas we Wellingtonians are almost resorting to just burying our rubbish in the rubble. What god claims can we make here? Mike Mendoca, where are you?
Chain test: Zara, 0; Starbucks 1. That’s what i make it. Who the hell are Zaras, and is there more than 1 Starbucks?
Key Upcoming developments: oh please. What do we have a choice of? Manners Mall? Basin Flyover? Site 10 Hilton? Westchester Road?!!? Surely something more than that?
Monocle fix: the magazine suggest that for Auckland: “as the population grows, this place will need a high-speed airport link.” Well that goes without saying for Auckland, and for Wellington too. What else can you suggest? I’m keen for Wellington to spring onto the score board for next year fully formed. Tyler Brule, take note. We’re coming for you as the World’s Best Small City Ever.

2 - 09 - 09

As someone who still wears blue and white hooped socks to Auckland v Wellington games at the Stadium, I will forebear on the North/South wrangle.

But I would like to suggest that we promote a competition for the World’s Best Capital. Got to be scope for a Wellington win there. Think about DC, ACT and the like. We’ve got it all over them (despite my personal view that we could do with a few more Lubyankas on Bunny St). All we have to do is encourage the people of Rio to rise up and demand that they have capital city status restored to them – hence removing Niemeyer from the race.

Mind you, that would put us head to head with this guy…

2 - 09 - 09

There are at least three Starbucks stores just in the central city (Majestic, Lambton Square, Courtenay). There’s a little one in Johnsonville too for some reason, so maybe a couple of other suburban stores too. Obviously dwarfed by other chains and independent shops though.

2 - 09 - 09

Downtown Wellington has four Starbucks (Majestic, Courtenay Central, Old Bank, mid-Lambton), and there’s one at Johnsonville and at Lower Hutt.

But who goes to Starbucks in Wellington? Teenagers, tourists and people wanting wifi. Locals know there’s better coffee to be had in plenty of other places.

The fact that Wellington didn’t make the one-size-fits-all international-quite-good-city list perhaps shows that Wellington is its own excellent place without needing a Zara in every mall.

2 - 09 - 09

“Key Upcoming developments: oh please.”

Well how about a campervan park with 500 sets of connected sewerage points ?! That’s something no one else has on their main promenade !

3 - 09 - 09

A self-flushing caravan park caravan park sounds about par for the course. It will save the mythical legion of wealthy caravan owners an occasional trip of a few kilometres to empty their holding tanks. No doubt this will be another waterfront commercial flop in the making to avoid a bit of low cost active and passive landscaping for everyone to enjoy. All this is under a Council that is now planning to spend over $3 million on trees in Taranaki Street having already done the same on the quays but wouldn’t spend less than $300 000 to save over 14 hectares of Open Space B regenerating native bush and pine forest at Ngauranga.

3 - 09 - 09

Just looking at your photo of the 3 pink faced half dead white guys presumably in the running for Auckland mayor, I gotta say that I don’t fancy having any of them in charge of running half of NZ. On reflection, and I hate to say it, but maybe Paul Holmes would be a better bet.

60 MPa
4 - 09 - 09

Auckland-bashing is soooo last year. How about a bit of ‘vive la difference’?
Is the fish swimming in political waters these days?

4 - 09 - 09

60 ! Hello there again. I thought I was doing a fair bit of both, if you had bothered to read the article above ! What’s up, my little hard as concrete friend?

60 MPa
7 - 09 - 09

Of course I read the article young Maximus, I’m just a bit over the whole city rivalry thing right now. No matter how many shiny gizmos the WCC are proposing for the waterfront (and I like the kina sculpture in the next thread) it was still rather depressing to sit in on a meeting with owner, arch,builder and wcc inspector in a leaky home rebuild last week.
Owner buys new, initial builder forms a company and then winds it up, wcc approves it and then when the rot comes there was the council guy swearing no responsibility from them – the poor client has to move out and shell out for an almost complete rebuild whilst the original builder is now running a waterproofing + company!
Kerist, I couldn’t make this sh*t up

Sorry for the rant but it gets my goat to see really nice people get screwed by plonkers that make the rest of us in the building profession look dodgy by association.

Anyway, my fine fish, what are you up to? Are you seeing any of the possibly overhyped green shoots yet?

We rang the concrete cutter at 9 the other day and he said he’d be there at 1030 ‘cos he had no other jobs on on a Wednesday…no green shoots there

7 - 09 - 09

Seeing as we went into the recession late (although the technical bods will tell you otherwise) then it seems logical that we won’t be coming out of it just yet either. Gareth Morgan reckons we’re still 20 to 30% overpriced on our housing, and the banks aren’t loaning on commercial jobs yet, so I reckon this is just a Dead Cat Bounce. Heaps of confidence from the public still in the Key government, but I reckon we’re still in a dream state where the worst hasn’t even started to happen. Plenty of time yet for the shit to hit the fan.

14 - 09 - 09

I know that the current wrangle over the Auckalnd Med-Lab cock-up is nothing at all to do with the Auckland SuperCity proposals, but it bodes ill for the whole region.

The decision to award a vast multi-city contract to a start-up company with no employees and no laboratory equipment has turned out, predictably, to be a farce from the word go.

Why then does the government think that the decision to award governanceship of a vast multi-city council with no infrastructure, will be anything other than a complete cock-up here as well?

18 - 09 - 09

Oh no – i said it may be a possibility, and today in the paper it looks more likely to be raised – sooner than I thought:
“Ratepayers in the Wellington region will be asked whether there should be a single council after Auckland was transformed into a super-city of 1.4 million people. Wellington mayors say it is now inevitable that local government in the region will have to change, but are promising to consult widely before deciding whether to take the same route as Auckland. Local Government Minister Rodney Hide says he will let local communities take the lead.

“If there was an area where everyone was agreed and everyone said, `Let’s do this,’ I’m sure the Government would say `We’ll assist you,’ but we wouldn’t be providing the leadership like we are in Auckland.” No further mergers would occur before the next general election as the Government wanted to see how the new Auckland worked, Mr Hide said.”

4 - 01 - 10

“Key Upcoming developments: oh please.”

Well how about a campervan park with 500 sets of connected sewerage points ?! That's something no one else has on their main promenade !