One of the wider whanau that lives in Taranaki noted and recorded with her camera a sign on the way into New Plymouth that was both puzzling to her and a source of glee for me.

It is on the road in from the north just before the bridge that crosses the Waiwhakaiho River and some 3 kms from the centre of town.

The sign gives directions to both the Highway 3 Whanganui City Centre straight ahead and the suburb of Fitzroy next on the right.

This is of course very misleading for travellers. They are not to know that it is another 2hours of driving till they reach the City Centre of Whanganui but it is a great way to get people to avoid New Plymouth and come here instead.


My first thought when seeing this sign was that our Mayor Hamish has been sneaking out and replacing road signs to divert people towards our wonderfully friendly, beautiful Whanganui and if he hasn't well maybe he should.

The notion that we could hijack road signage and divert traffic our way is brilliant. Who needs New Plymouth or Palmerston North when you can come here. Taranaki has a mountain true - I grew up with it as a constant view out my bedroom window (unless it was raining) but Palmerston North has .....?

A sign at Auckland airport saying Whanganui City Centre this way with a big arrow would boost our visitor numbers provided there was no detail regarding how far it actually is.

Some tourists come from huge countries where a five-hour drive is nothing. Once they have punched Whanganui City Centre into the GPS they will not even notice how far it is.

Let's get these diversions in place all over the country. One near Bluff might need to have a giant U turn arrow just before the road ends. For Wellington a sign at the end of Cuba Mall pointing the way to Whanganui City Centre would be the right spot.

All this plan requires is a small truck load of signs and lashings of chutzpah and Whanganui could become the centre of the known universe.

The sign on the northern approach to New Plymouth has been there a while now with no-one noting the diversion effect. Long may it be so.

Diverting to a more serious matter as we lament the shocking shooting of hundreds of people in Las Vegas and the madness of US gun culture while smugly reminding ourselves that it is safer here, let us ponder the dangers for those who own or work in our corner dairy's and service station.

We have become the land of the Long Local Robbery with regular news stories of people brandishing dangerous weapon's threatening lives for money, alcohol and cigarettes.

The victims are often immigrants who have worked hard to build a family business to support their children.

These robberies are a form of domestic urban terrorism and should be treated as such.

Like other examples of terrorism, the dynamic is built on creating a fear of where and when this might happen combined with perpetrators regarding their victims as 'other' placing them beyond any consideration of the harm, injury or deaths that follow.

Responding to these robberies as we would a terrorist event would bring greater focus to prevention, the protection of citizens and support for the Police. The State has considerable resources dedicated to hindering terror attacks but seems to have a blind spot when it comes to armed robbery of its citizens.

*Terry Sarten (aka Tel) is a writer, musician, social worker. Feedback: