The Eye of the Fish

March 27, 2017

Cuba Dupa transforms the street

Everything looks better with sparkles, seems to be the motto of the Cuba Dupa carnival organisers. And apart from the glistening rain drops, everything was indeed sparkling over the weekend, with the whole of Cuba Street entering into the spirit. This town sure knows how to party!
I love this city, with the mad way that we have taken the name of one of our first ships to bring settlers here, and extrapolated it into a Latin carnival. I felt like I was the only person not dressing up – many people were steam-punked, or had complimentary colour and glitter and even flowers in their hair, and with sound stages at every corner and street end, the city was full of music, art, creativity and life.
Even the rubbish bins had been transformed into works of art, temporarily, with children’s art efforts blocking off the regular bins and redirecting people to recycling stations (only bad point: we need twice as many) complete with volunteers guiding you which bin to put your waste into. Incidentally, while: Hooray! – can we please have a range of bins please all over the city? Can we have recycling bins next to rubbish bins, every day of the year please, all over Welling Town? Isn’t it worth recycling more than just 2 days a year?
It’s interesting to compare it with the Cuba Carnival of old, back in the days when it was run by slightly mad locals rather than run directly by the Council itself. I do miss the actual Carnival Grand Parade – with the community floats and dancing girls and decorated trucks with lights etc, way better than a Santa Parade but not as noisy as a Notting Hill Parade. That was indeed a highlight – but now instead we have theatre and vaudeville all over the town (well, all up and down the street at least) in individual clumps. Less concentrated, more spread out, both in terms of area but also in terms of time. So you get pockets of enjoyment all through the weekend. I guess that’s Ok.
The real success though is the transformation of areas normally ruled by cars, into pedestrian havens. If only we could put State Highway One underground at the Cuba / Vivian junction – the eternal stream of cars is just so divisive. Can’t they go somewhere else? Can’t Karo Drive be made two-way, at least for a day? The big Samoan guys manning the intersections on this crossing? Brilliant. Human door stoppers, stopping the traffic and letting the pedestrians flow.
But the pedestrianisation needs to spread, permanently. Maximus was always an advocate for the permanent pedestrianisation of Swan Lane car park: that it should be a park alright – just for people though, not for cars. I totally agree. And upper Cuba Street as well, more permanently. Just as things go better with Coke, or everything looks better with sparkles, Cuba Street works better without cars. Interestingly, while Marion Street also was partially denuded of vehicles, it didn’t feel quite right. Didn’t have the party atmosphere that Cuba or Ghuznee had. Is it just too damn wide? With the sad departure of the Post Office, there is no longer any reason for aged bad drivers to do U-turns in the middle of the street and park poorly – perhaps the Council needs to have a rethink about this whole street?
The Laneways, of course, performed brilliantly (except for West Bank, which looked tired and dead). The Leeds Street area was brilliant – the child performers on stage were amazing (young and hungry for fame and glory – what a combination!) – the Hannah’s Courtyard is a natural gathering place and stage area, although I’m not sure I would like to live there if that noise was going on permanently.

The absolute prize for me though, was the transformation of the area near Fidels into a fern-clad kiwi grotto, complete with Cuban cocktails. It was like a winter wonderland, a thermal highway holiday hide-a-way, complete with rum. Magic, just magic. Well done Wellington!

27 - 03 - 17

I think you mean the left Bank, :),
But yeah, at the moment its a bit dreary at the best of times,

But give it a year or two and I think it will spring back, given the 3 large apartment developments in the pipeline around Feltex lane, and the people looking for a easy way to get to Cuba Mall/Street.

+ the new path/lane between Feltex lane and Dixon Street should also help meet some of the “desire lines” that will exist with all these new inner city residents.

27 - 03 - 17

Left Bank – seems more like Gaza to me, full of semi derelict buildings – so I re-christened it West Bank…. :)

Interesting thoughts about the new apartments – hadn’t thought about that….

Seamonkey Madness
27 - 03 - 17

Levi – Wellington used to have recycle bins all over the place, but I can’t recall seeing any around for a while. Maybe I just haven’t been looking hard enough.

Here is an example of one on Bunny St, outside the train station (in 2013).
So at one time, Wellington Council did have a conscience when it related to public recycling. Maybe it became an acceptable casualty Kevin Lavery’s books, to reduce costs imposed upon ratepayers?

Andy B
27 - 03 - 17

What was the concert in Glover Park? I’ve never seen so many people there! First time it has ever been full ! Its a pity there is nobody dancing (well, maybe one?).

27 - 03 - 17

The concert? It was a Japanese duo, playing blues on a mandolin and a steel guitar or something like that. Totally mad. Actually, very infectious dance inducing music. My toes were tapping.

Look, I dunno what it is about kiwis – but we really don’t dance in public. Something of the reserved Protestant Scottish background I fear. Let’s be honest – to have a truly Latin carnival, we need true Latinos.

I hear that there may be a lot of mexicans looking for a place to stay, soon. Muy bien! Come on down!

andy foster
28 - 03 - 17

Nice post again Levi.

Not sure about the link to Feltex Lane – I assume the apartments you are referring to are Craig Stewart’s ones on Victoria St behind St Peter’s ? What we are planning to do is open up Garrett St to Victoria St so people can walk through there – that and a number of other planned apartments in the area I think are in the pipeline – and I hope the redevelopment of the Albemarle should bring a lot more life to Glover Park.

I agree with you about Swan Lane too by the way. The other development on the way is Willis Bond’s apartments over retail development corner Victoria and Dixon – which I think looks really good.

Finally I did ask about more recycling bins a month or two back – got told that the level of abuse (ie putting ordinary rubbish into them) meant that they aren’t working. What that tends to mean is that a lot of recycled material gets landfilled, so that sounds like something we all need to work on – not just Council.


Andy Foster
Urban Development Leader
Wellington City

28 - 03 - 17

Thanks Andy, again, for contributing here.
We’ve been hearing about that magical doorway under the National building in the end of Garrett St for a number of years now but there is still no sign of action. Do I have your permission to just go down there with a chainsaw one night and take out the offending fence? Please?

Similarly, I’m excited to hear about the Albemarle – it seems to have been an on-again, off-again process. It is a gorgeous old building. It will be even nicer when it is finished and opened up again. Any idea of timeline?

Also – Swan Lane Park. It was glorious over the weekend, despite the rain, when it was full of people. Monday morning: back to cars again, and a living death. How can we change this? When I say “We”, I mean Us (as a city) and You (as the Urban Development Leader). Yes, we do need car parks, but in that location? I’d say No. Can you start by rezoning it? Do a landscape with some other site? What’s the way forward? I’m afraid I’ll be old and dead before anything happens. Let’s make it happen now!

29 - 03 - 17

Was the fish poster a commission for you? Looks similar!

30 - 03 - 17

CT – no, sadly not. I presume it has now washed away in all this fog and rain? It was lovely – and a perfect match for us!

andy foster
30 - 03 - 17

Hi Levi

I couldn’t countenance removing other people’s fences (!) and I can’t offhand give you a timeframe for Albemarle – I did see some plans recently and there have been ownership changes I think. Will check it out. Garrett St is on the list of laneways to be done – I would expect over the next 24 months.

We are about to start a major planning exercise for the Central City – to me parks are a very important element in this. I think you’ll still be young and very much alive when we get some decisions made ! I have no doubt laneways will be there too.