So you don't like it here?

By: Brian Rogers

Here's an idea: Bugger off back to your snooty high ground

Someone needs to tell Tony Wall to feck off back to Auckland. And I’m just the man for the job.

Mr Wall, in case anyone cares, is an Aucklander who has been overstaying in Tauranga for six years. He’s written a bleat for ‘Stuff’ dissing our fine city, calling it a cultural wasteland and having a crack at the recent referendum which demolished the museum idea.

I have some news for Mr Wall.

There’s been a thing called democracy at play here, whether you like it or not.

So only a third of the eligible voters had their say.

The other two thirds clearly don’t care; have relinquished their right to be counted.

They had their chance. And the result is the museum plan has been rejected.

Personally I’d love to see a museum here.

And so would most of the locals. But not if it’s council-funded against the will of the majority of the city shareholders.

The ratepayers. The people who are actually expected to pay for it.

Hell, you can set one up in my building at No 1 The Strand if you like. It’s already a heritage-listed building and might suit your ‘cultural’ expectations. Just don’t expect the city’s funders (ratepayers) to shell out against their will.

No bottomless pit

The council is not some magical fairy godmother with unlimited billions of dollars to spend on nice things.

That might be how it happens in Awkland, which already gets a disproportionate amount of spending and attention thrown at it, because it’s the biggest and the noisiest. But here, we work on democracy and a budget.

This may come as a bit of shock to some of you, but the council is in fact an organisation funded almost entirely by a group of people. They are called ratepayers.

And oddly enough, the ratepayers still have a bit of say in how their contributed money is spent.

Strange notion, perhaps that the money collected should be spent how the contributors see fit, rather than how those who don’t pay it, think. Or how some Awklanders or anyone else from lesser regions of the nation, think.

And for the information of the recent arrivals, the museum debate has been going on for decades. It’s not a new thing, Mr Wall. You’re a bit behind the play here.

If you knew you were moving to a “cultural wasteland” as you state, why complain now? Thought you’d rock in, eh, and force the grandiose plans of few upon the majority? A bit miffed, are we, that Tauranga folk are quite staunch and don’t like being bullied?

Natural attributes

The old argument about Tauranga being a “cultural desert” doesn’t wash. There are already too many people flocking here, drawn by the many natural attributes.

Tauranga doesn’t need cultural trinkets to be attractive. It is already growing faster than it can cope, hence the traffic snarls at every end of the city.

One of Wall’s buddies, Hamish McNeilly also managed a swipe at our paradise. “Dunedin is no Tauranga; it has heritage, culture and a pulse.”

Again, Hamish, if Dunedin pushes your lofty cultural buttons, feel free to feck off there. Don’t bother tooting as you leave; we’re too busy eating feijoas in our t-shirts and sandy feet, enjoying 23 degrees in the autumn sun.

Dumps such as Dunedin need artificial facilities because, frankly, there’s stuff all to like about the place. Let them wallow in a few old cruddy buildings and an air of damp bagpipes. It’s all they’ve got.  Those places need man-made attractions because they bereft of natural assets. Such as a climate, for starters.  

The ratepayers of this city might also be more supportive of a museum if the basics of the city were managed successfully.

Such as traffic. The Northern Link. Glass collection. But when you can’t even keep city traffic flowing or collect empty gin bottles, it’s a bit rich to make grandiose plans for a museum.  

The ratepayers have also been stung by past rorts, such as the art gallery. It was meant to be a one-off cost to establish and then self-funding. Yet the ratepayer input is nudging a million a year. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have an art gallery.

Just that many ratepayers feel they were sold a lemon; and the sour taste lingers.

No wonder the payers are shy on commitment to other flashy schemes.

Bleeding the payers

If there are so many wiser folk out there with lofty ideals about what Tauranga “needs” then let them dig deep into their own pockets and fund it.  

Fine example: Classic Flyers. A group of people who decided to set up a museum.

They didn’t go cap in hand to bleed the council, they got on with setting it up themselves. And made a jolly fine job of it.

There is more than one way to skin a cat, than fleecing the ratepayers.

Then all the people, including the Dawklanders and even the Dunedinites who feel so sorry for us, can pay for it.

Until then, busy yourself in front of the coal range with your Vicks Vaporub and pull your beak out of our business.

Help yourself to the feijoas

When you’re ready for your ride out, Mr Wall, I’ll gladly drop you at Dunners, the Tron or the bottom of the Bombays.

Unless you’d rather ride your cultural high horse back to your cultural high ground. It’s been interesting to have you, but we were managing quite well before.

If you have an idea for funding a museum – or anything else for that matter – that isn’t against the majority wishes of those who’ll pay for it, we’ll be keen to listen.

Help yourself to the avocados and feijoas as you leave. You’ll need the vitamins where you’re going.

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