Reflecting on Wellington

Last week we were booked to attend a function in Wellington and elected to wrap a larger series of visits around the central core. With three married daughters in the greater Wellington area this is not an unpleasant task.

Peter Carr

It resulted in looking at my old residential city through ‘visitor’ eyes and asking myself whether I could live there again. For a small number of reasons, the answer was in the negative but that is in no way a reflection of my overall views of this magnificent harbourside spectacular.

First – let’s get done with it – the weather. The skies were clear, the sun shone and the relatively gentle breeze would be viewed by locals as non-existent.  That breeze emanated on the snow of the inland Kaikoura Range at the top end of the South Island – and contributed to the coolness of the temperature.

Cyclists were everywhere without the nanny state (did I mention Cambridge?) plethora of multi-million road-width reductions seen elsewhere. At the weekend joggers and walkers crowded shared footpaths in a nice way and considering the magnitude of lovely views they have their happy faces were truly reflective of their fitness demeanour.

Public transport was in full swing and I lost count of the number of double deck buses that passed me in one five-minute period. Interchangeability with three different rail line systems offering frequent and on-time service made it all add up to a Gold Card holder’s idea of Heaven.

OK let us try a more balanced view. Firstly, getting across the central core of the city by car is a nightmare. We spent numerous stop/start journeys where far too many un-connected sets of traffic lights were acting in a manner unfriendly to motorists. And the aforementioned cyclists sped happily by to the unfriendly glare of frustrated car drivers.

Meanwhile Wellington is hell-bent on creating a long cycling pathway from Island Bay to the city  – that no-one wants, least of all the good burghers of Island Bay. Talking of the city, the mayor appears to be in a cocoon of untouchability despite her clear breaking of some social and dog- owner rules. Where are those leaders like (Michael) Fowler and others who had big visions and appropriate behaviours?

One of the city’s elected MP’s, another cycling aficionado, has displeased her Eastern Suburbs electorate with a display of totally inappropriate behaviour on the floor of the peoples’ House.

Perhaps these two ladies are all part of the colour that lights up this relatively small and cluttered town.

Will the second tunnel linking the Basin Reserve with the airport ever happen? Politically, possibly, but what happens at either end of the new portals will be a nightmare to construct. Remember this is a city that had the (now politically crushed) Let’s Get Wellington Moving ethos. The only physical evidence is a $2 million lights-controlled pedestrian crossing at Evans Bay that does not appear to be used. However, to be fair, I feel for Wellington’s local body politicians forever feeling the hot and heavy breath of the Beehive bearing down on them.

Perhaps the solution is to move the Beehive – any suggestions anyone?

Peter Carr and his wife Robyn in Wellington for his investiture at Government House.

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