This time last week, I was in the Hokianga. I spent a blissful 10 days there, after two weeks with the family in London over Christmas.
In the Hokianga, time stood still. I watched the tide come in and go out. I was entertained by the aerobatics of the tui in the trees outside my house, there was a long walk every day at low tide and a swim off the tiny beach at the edge of our property at full tide.
That was pretty much it, apart from food prep and reading. No makeup, no deadlines, minimal contact with the outside world and very little driving. Utter heaven.
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It was a rude shock coming back to the city. After putting up with the roadworks around Grey Lynn and Ponsonby over the past two years including the debacle that was the installation – and reinstallation - of cycle lanes in West Lynn combined with the nightmare on Franklin Rd, now we have to endure the chaos that is Victoria St.
Cycle lanes are being installed and, as a result, two lanes of traffic can go up the hill, and just one narrow lane has been designated for traffic going downhill.
Buses (and oh, how I feel for professional drivers!, I can't even to begin to imagine how stressful your days must be right now) have to try to pick up their passengers from outside safety fences and barricades; traffic that is turning holds up all the other cars behind them, through no fault of their own; delivery drivers have steel themselves, park up, put on the hazard lights and be damned – utter, utter car-nage.
And I have tried to tell myself, as I have sat in gridlocked traffic this first week I have been back, that it will all be for the best. That I am lucky to live in a city where we can afford to invest in infrastructure, that it's short-term pain for long-term gain, that cycling in the inner city is the way of the future and that it will all be for the best.
Except that bitter experience means I don't believe the city planners really do know what they're doing. If a job was done once and done properly, fine. I could put up with the chaos because I would know it was only going to be for a finite time and the wider community will benefit in the long run.
But there are so many instances where projects are ill thought out, poorly designed and even more poorly executed. And that means we must do it all again. I can't remember ever seeing so many projects on the go at the one time – there were 22 pages advising of roadworks in Auckland City on the Auckland Transport website for this week alone.
And that's because we, council and ratepayers, have under-invested for too many years. Now we're trying to do vital work all at once to make up for lost time.
I shudder to think of how productivity in the city has been affected – some tradeys won't come into the city for jobs, they told me, because the job's not worth the time they spend on the road. And people are avoiding the affected areas wherever they possibly can, so I hope the retailers can hold tight until it's over.
I really do believe I can choose my attitude so I am trying to remain #grateful, #blessed that I live in a city with hot and cold running water, and ultra-fast broadband, and a sewerage system that doesn't foul the ocean, and cycle lanes so I can get to work without destroying the planet.
I tell myself I'm privileged to be a part of making the city a better place for future generations. But to do that, I need to have faith that the planners know what they're doing. When the "urban design champion" Ludo Campbell Reid has pushed off for Melbourne, leaving the city's he's created behind, it gives me pause for thought. But for all those affected, and I venture to suggest there'll be very few people in Auckland, residents or visitors, who won't be affected, repeat after me. We are lucky. We are blessed. It will be worth it in the end, for our children and our moko. We have to keep the faith – otherwise, what's all the wasted time and the enormous amounts of money and the lost productivity all about?