Living in New Zealand's most expensive suburb isn't an entirely harrowing experience. I moved in on December 1. New research shows that I'm the poorest person in a 20km radius – that includes out to sea, where the leathery mamas and papas of New Zealand's most expensive suburb sit around on boats and pull fish screaming out of the water – but I get to share in the sense of wealth and privilege just by having the same postcode. It's an elite postcode. It reads like a hashtag. Its numerals tell you where you are on the ladder of life – the top rung, with everyone else grasping at lower rungs with sticky little paws. Write to me c/- Auckland 1011.
Living in New Zealand's most expensive suburb is to witness a socialist Shangri-La. The wealth seems evenly distributed. Everyone has a lot of it. Now and then a house comes up for sale and right now I have my eye on a magnificent old pile with six bedrooms, five sitting rooms and four bathrooms. I could probably afford the deposit on two of the taps. The feature I most covet is its six chimneys. Six! Imagine building up six blazing fires of a winter's evening and walking from each to each, your face illuminated in the flames, raising a toast to the wealth gap.
Living in New Zealand's most expensive suburb isn't about money or boats or the latest Range Rover SV with intuitive technology and perforated Windsor leather seats, or the lack of anything resembling these items. It's about families in the professional class leading blameless and happy lives. It's nice. I was warned about the 3 o'clock school pick-up as an unbearable advertisement of Auckland's nouveau riche. But better nouveau than never, as Groucho Marx observed, and the blonde mamas in black pants and white tops and the hipster papas in meaningful tattoos clutch at the little heirs of their fortunes with love.
Living in New Zealand's most expensive suburb isn't very similar to my previous address. I can see it across the water when I walk to the shore of an evening; there it is, that low, lovely peninsula, with its long-legged stilts at low tide and its menswear store (548 Te Atatū Rd, right now reduced by 30 per cent in a closing down sale) and its Roosters rugby league team and its decorative habit of parking old bombs on front lawns. I visited this week to buy a pair of pants and three T-shirts. It was great to be back. I walked past two homes with Tongan flags flying from bamboo poles. I walked past a caravan parked on a front lawn; its door was open, curtained by that new symbol of the deranged, the New Zealand flag. I saw another flag, red, in the shape of a triangle. A woman was kneeling down in her garden. I said, "What country is that flag?" She said, "No country. Is prayer flag. I from Fiji." I said, "Hindu?" She smiled, and said, "Yes! Hindu god, Hindu god."
Living in New Zealand's most expensive suburb is really good. The scented avenues, the petanque club, the croissants and Botox up at the shops, the colours of water – bright as pastel in summer, right now reduced by 30 per cent in autumn light to a pale serene dream. Auckland writer Ian Wedde has a poem about swimming in the direction of the Chelsea Sugar Factory on the opposite shore. "I swim towards that/ decaying old heap of sweetness/ with joy that verges on reverence."
Living in New Zealand's most expensive suburb is a thing of joy that borders on anxiety. I should have worked harder and lasted more than three weeks at university and set long-term goals and thought about business opportunities more than composing uneconomic sentences – it'd be nice to own that old pile with its numerous rooms and chimneys. Never mind. The prettiness of New Zealand's most expensive suburb is very distracting. Oystercatchers, with their bills like orange cones, pull worms screaming out of the shore. I put out seeds on the bird table for a family of spotted doves. "They're so elegant," said my girlfriend, as we lounged on the wicker couch on the back deck, in sunshine, a light breeze combing the leaves of enormous trees, happy and at home, c/- Auckland 1011.