Auckland vs Wellington: Two sides to the debate

By Amelia Wade

Cameron Rhodes and Sir Robert Jones debate Wellington's prospects after claims it is a 'dying city' hit the headlines.

Cameron Rhodes and Sir Robert Jones share their views on Wellington. Photo / File photos
Cameron Rhodes and Sir Robert Jones share their views on Wellington. Photo / File photos

Team Auckland: Cameron Rhodes (actor and director)

As a born and bred Wellingtonian I will always have a strong connection to the intensity of the cafe and bar scene of Courtenay Place, the alternative culture and eccentricity of upper Cuba St and the stunning harbour.

But I live in Auckland. I needed a change in 2001 and moved here to work in theatre and film. Over the past decade Auckland has changed a lot ... for the better.

There is a vibrant, exciting energy in the theatre scene with Silo, Auckland Theatre Company (ATC), Auckland Festival and many independent productions at Q and the Basement.

I do envy Wellington's flash St James Theatre while Auckland's is sitting empty in desperate need of restoration. The ATC needs its waterfront theatre. Actors go where the work is, and for me it has been in Auckland. I enjoy the multicultural mix and rapid change here.

Wellington, far from being dead or dying, has an exciting innovative theatre scene, especially at Bats Theatre as well as the film, dance, literary and visual arts worlds.

I love both cities. Both are changing. Both getting better. I'm currently north, but anything can happen.

Team Wellington: Sir Robert Jones (property investor)

There are two reasons why the Prime Minister should not have made this comment. The first is that it's not true. The second is that if it was true, then instead of publicly and gracelessly blurting it out in this manner, as Prime Minister he should be mulling the consequences, more so as he won't be Prime Minister in 18 months.

But the fact is that it's wrong. A dying city claim is a reflection of a declining population. Wellington's is rising, not as rapidly as Auckland, but then what city in Australasia is?

My company, as the largest private CBD office-building owner in Auckland and Wellington, provides an excellent test. For the past decade office-space demand in the capital has exceeded Auckland's. That position reversed six months ago but I've been around long enough to know these things are cyclical. Wellington, as capital, is an administration city and one truism about its future is that democracy equals bureaucracy. The Key Government has rightly tried to purge the growing bureaucracy but without wishing to sound cynical, it's a Yes Minister situation and the bureaucrats always outlast politicians.

The strongest economies in the Western world are capitals, be they London, Canberra or Washington. As I said, democracy equals bureaucracy, an unavoidable price we pay in lieu of dictatorships. No one is forced to live in Wellington, Timaru, Taupo or Auckland. They choose to and will still be there long after the Prime Minister has become yesterday's man, a fate awaiting all politicians.

- NZ Herald

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