David Meech takes an irreverent look at what's going on down at the waterfront. Or what should be ...
Party Central is going to be world-class, so stop your whingeing.
Probably the best in the Southern Hemisphere. Let's stop all this negativity - the same kind of negativity we had when we were building our world-class party facilities for the America's Cup. You know, the ones that would pay for themselves and provide world-class permanent facilities, hopefully the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere, for exactly this kind of event in the future.
Just look at how those world-class facilities have transformed and improved our super-city ... hell, you can barely get a park down there now. To think that ratepayers are still complaining about all this is negative in the extreme and yet here we all are again, doing it all over again, and all with with exactly the same sort of negativity, scepticism and anti-Auckland sentiment, especially from those confused prospective super-city ratepayers cringing in awe south of the Bombays.
What better way to show the world that Godzone is no longer about rugby, racing and beer than by hosting a really big piss-up with beer, pokies and rugby in some big synergised corrugated-tin sheds? Let's not muck around with water features, Len Lye wind wands, Maori cultural centres or all that socialist architectural claptrap. Instead, let's get the ratepayer to buy tourists what they really need - another big boozer with big-screen rugby amd world-class urinals.
I can imagine the tourists, peering querulously down from their swine flu-infested cruise liners on to the brawling, vomiting, foul-mouthed and recently retrenched beer crowds below, and uttering in complete awe, "My word, absolutely world-class. Probably one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere."
Those more adventurous and less swine flu-infected tourists could then make their way through the brawling masses into the bars where they could ask, somewhat optimistically, "Barman, good fellow, please purvey a bottle of your finest Marlborough Pinot Noir."
Just imagine the bartender: no doubt some retrenched accountant, horribly over-qualified, rummaging around the back of the old tin sheds, only to reappear minutes later and respond, "Sorry, mate, I've checked the big rusty fridge out back but there's no red wine so you'll have to have a beer instead".
All followed by piping hot plates full of sausie rolls, salt-laden chips and runny meat pies - not just any sausage rolls and meat pies, mind, but savouries that fall amongst the biggest and best within the whole of the Southern Hemisphere. And don't forget the 'mato sauce. (Having said that, let's hope those Froggies get knocked out of the Cup early).
We might want a good look at the wharf piles, though. I think they were rather overlooked in the flurry of financial transactions that have transformed Queens Wharf from a dilapidated, rat-infested jetty into prospectively one of the biggest and most individual waterside complexes within the entire Southern Hemisphere, certainly much better than Darling Harbour.
It is exactly this sort of financial genius - selling the wharf into trust, on behalf of the confused ratepayer, buying it back again, thus ramping up its historical cost, funding its refurbishment, only to sell bits of it off to friendly developers - which has left the rest of the country sprawling in the dust and gasping for air. Jafas lead the way, mate - know it and run with it.
Auckland has already been irrevocably transformed by just this sort of brilliant and individually unique architectural genius. This whole shed, transformed by synergised teams of unqualified yet pro-active businessmen, will no doubt be at least one or possibly even two metres longer than anything those woeful Aussies can muster.
Remember the brilliant and unique Skytower? Of course those damned Aussies with their negativity and sarcasm would claim that they built theirs decades before and that their tower is actually higher than ours and that Toronto has one as well ... and, oh yeah, so do the Japs.
They then intimated that our tower may somehow show signs of roof leakage. In a brilliant act of architectural genius, however - probably the loftiest architectural genius in the Southern Hemisphere - we pipped those bastards right at the post (note racing analogy) by sticking that pointy bit on the top.
Hordes of Europeans, anxious to explore the far extremities of our Super Hemisphere, now flood into our super-city just to marvel at this pointy bit and to make bad taste jokes about the Twin Towers as they bungy-jump into the swarming crowds of recently redundant, somewhat confused, rate-paying recalcitrants below. Absolutely world-class.
Again, right after we built our brilliant and individually unique Coathanger, there were annoyingly immediate and typically negative comparisons to the Sydney one. Why must our sheer creativity and genius always be met by this sheer wall of rate-paying negativity? Right away those bloody Aussies started saying that theirs was older, bigger, less prone to having the side bits fall off - well, ha ha.
We will surely have the last laugh by cleverly failing to upgrade our bridge and thereby letting it fall into a complete state of utter disrepair. Ours will sneakily become the most reverently ancient Coathanger within the confines of the entire Southern Hemisphere. They just don't learn, those Aussies, do they? They are somewhat stubborn in their world outlook. Copycat losers, that's what I say.
There won't be any money to upgrade the bridge, as we desperately need more funding for rugby-themed booze-barns here in Super Jafa Central. It's what the tourists are flooding in for. Forget the ratepayer, just bankroll tourism.
Cast your eye north to New Zealand's pinnacle of architectural genius, that amazing toilet designed by a foreigner. Tiled and everything. You know the one, at Kawakawa, where we see that brilliantly positioned signpost - on one side "Bay of Islands", suggesting world-renowned sparkling inlets, dolphins and marlin, as described by Cook and Mark Twain; on the other side, "Hundertwasser Toilet". We know what is best for our tourism in this country: world-class toilets.
I can hear the Swiss and Japanese, somewhat breathless after cycling up our world-class motorway, pushing aside the lines of redundant and over-qualified town planners breaking rocks, as they pee up against that beautifully tiled urinal wall in sheer and utter amazement. "Brilliant. Absolutely world-class! Possibly the best in the Southern Hemisphere."
Clearly this outranks anything those Aussies achieved with that over-inflated nun-scrum on the shores of their annoyingly beautiful harbour. I bet they wished they had crammed more bars and TVs into that thing, that there was altogether less opera going on and far more beer and world-class urinals, designed by foreigners, as we have so proudly achieved in the more interesting corners of the world-class, world-renowned, and somewhat world-visionary, yet not overtly individual, Southern Hemisphere.
Perhaps that's unfair. The Opera House isn't all bad. It just needs more of a rugby theme. One way to fund the Harbour Bridge upgrade may be to sell it into trust, on behalf of the ratepayer, pay an exorbitant cost to buy it back again, thereby rocketing up its net worth, then have the entire country fund its refurbishment, pay some friendly companies to fix it up and then sell off all the good bits to friendly people, while charging those bloody annoying North Shore ratepayers a stiff fee to come across each day.
All we need is simple regional agreement on this plan. It should save millions - well, enough to pay for the Beckham junket.
Personally, I feel people do not have enough confidence in John Banks as Super Jafa. I mean, he ran Tony's Steak House, for Helen's sake. Running a super-city is child's play compared to getting steak and chips out on time or making sure there is enough 'mato sauce to fulfill the unique and individual needs of each table.
This guy has shown terrific leadership. He's said no to so many things - Britomart, the light-rail system, Carlaw Park, and the ARC. He has said no in so many individual and creative ways. Hopefully we should get our world-class, California-style Eastern Corridor (fastest in the Southern Hemisphere) just as GM and Chrysler go out of business.
We don't always say no in this great super-city of ours, though. We said yes to world-class Beckham and look at those ratepayers still complaining! Honestly - no vision.
I must point out that I felt venturing past the sacred confines of rugby was scary and pretty much fraught with danger from the outset. We kind of dropped the ball (no pun intended) with the Waterfront Stadium, though. It seemed like Auckland had difficulty communicating: or, rather, the middle, southern and western bits did since North Harbour was excluded from the debate right from the kick-off.
Here was Auckland's chance to express its unique individuality by painstakingly copying Wellington's Cake Tin (beautiful toilets in that thing, let me tell you), yet still keeping safely and squarely on the tried and true rugby theme. Anyway ... imagine building that thing only to watch the Froggies run off with your silverware?
Do our ratepayers even know what they want? Do they recognise genius when they see it? They don't want Eden Park upgrades, they don't want the Waterfront Stadium, they don't want to pay for Chunder Central.
Have these recalcitrants no creative vision? They need to make their minds up soon, as there are only so many different ideas that our synergised teams of unqualified pro-active businessmen, (while watching rugby and sculling beers served by overly qualified recently retrenched architects), can muster.
David Meech lived and worked as an accountant in Sydney for 10 years. He and his family returned six months ago for a better quality of life. They live in Birkdale.