Wellingtonians have many crosses to bear.

The heaviest, of course, is the weather, a hoary old joke that pre-dates "Why did the chicken cross the road?" which first appeared in print in 1847.

According to legend, Kupe discovered and explored the Wellington area in the 10th century and the first European settlers arrived in 1839.

(Coincidentally, the oldest known joke in English was found in a 10th century book of Anglo-Saxon poetry: "What hangs at a man's thigh and wants to poke the hole it has often poked before? A key." This and similar discoveries led researchers to conclude the ancients were amused by the same things we are: farts, sex and stupidity. So much for progress.)


In January 2011 a one-day heatwave pushed the temperature in the capital to an inhuman 27C with 80 per cent humidity. Swimmers at Thorndon pool complained it was too hot to swim and the local daily newspaper went into full "Phew, wot a scorcher!" mode, just as the British tabloids have this week. The difference is that it was 36.7C at Heathrow Airport and ballboys at Wimbledon were fainting from heat exhaustion.

There's the fact that Wellington's a government town: Malfunction Junction, home to serried ranks of cardigan-wearing petty bureaucrats with one thought in their heads: how can I make this harder than it needs to be?

To be fair, Wellington has tried to shed this grey image. There was the "Absolutely, Positively" campaign and attempts to cash in on the Lonely Planet accolade of "coolest little capital in the world". Suffice to say, it could be some time before this label resonates globally a la "the Big Apple" or "the City of Light".

Wellington sets great store on being a Mecca for foodies and culture vultures, although when out-of-towners praise it in those terms it often comes across as "nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there". Likewise, enthusing over Wellington's compactness and the ease with which you can get around is, at best, damning with faint praise, at worst shorthand for "Hicksville".

But at least that positioning has some substance and conveys a sense of what Wellington actually is, unlike the ludicrous notion of erecting a Hollywood-style "Wellywood" sign by the airport on the blithe assumption it put the city on every international traveller's bucket list.

This bubble of pretension and self-regard was pricked by the president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce who asked: if Wellington really is such a hotbed of creativity, why can't it come up with something original? If you aspire to being cool, edgy and creative, one thing you must never, ever do is expose yourself to ridicule from the Chamber of Commerce.

In 2013 the Prime Minister caused a flap by telling an Auckland audience that "Wellington is dying and we don't know how to turn it around," but the ongoing exodus of private sector corporate head offices is both a fact and a source of angst.

A chap called David Shearer, who happened to be Labour Party leader at the time, sprang to Wellington's defence saying foreign diplomats regard it as an attractive posting. Compared to where: the capital of Equatorial Macheteland or some war-torn wasteland where Isis has just opened a branch office?


And there's sport. The Phoenix generated some excitement but, despite the involvement of Gareth Morgan, the man who's never encountered a problem for which he doesn't have a solution, they've lapsed into the old routine of raising expectations and failing to live up to them. To be fair, this isn't a uniquely Wellington phenomenon. I'm looking at you, Warriors.

The Hurricanes have tried a variety of approaches, from making it up as they go ("Expect the unexpected") to player power, to trying to be like the Crusaders, a strategy that delivered the worst of both worlds: failure and tedium. It's typical of the mismanagement and misfortune that invariably attends Wellington teams' campaigns that the Hurricanes' excuse for losing the 2006 final was that they couldn't see their opponents.

Wellingtonians have become understandably pessimistic, expecting the worst in order to limit their disappointment when the worst duly transpires, hence the above-mentioned newspaper running a piece this week headlined "Why we should be rooting for the Hurricanes". Various reasons were put forward. "Because they're our team" wasn't one of them.