MaximusSeptember 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.