Something of a minor incident was caused recently, when acclaimed English author Duncan Fallowell brazenly attacked many aspects of New Zealand culture in his new travel book. Going As Far As I Can is the result of Duncan’s 3 month sojourn to Aotearoa, a trip that was evidently not very agreeable.

“I’m in a state of shock. Where to begin? . . . Wellington has been even more catastrophically demolished than Auckland. This is the capital city, so one was looking for style . . . who the hell is running this place?”

From the limited quotes that are released it seems that most of his architectural criticisms relate to the removal of historic buildings from city centres. Wellington in particular gets a harsh review, considered ruinous and messy – apparently Cuba St is the last bastion of our heritage (being confused but lively). Auckland gets off with a “not my idea of a town,” while Christchurch’s cathedral square is apparently a “visual disaster zone.”

The book also extensively covers the wider kiwi culture, remarking upon our women (slow-high spirits), tattoos (ornament is a crime?), rugby (emotional autism?) and many other subjects.

I’m slightly sceptical as to what exactly Fallowell considers to be our destroyed heritage – hopefully the book will have more supporting analysis. However it is nice to see some critique of New Zealand urbanism being covered on the front pages.

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