Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Owed (Ode) to Tauranga

The Bay of Plenty in general and Tauranga in particular is a great place to live. I love living here and hope to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. But sometimes I wonder if I will want to.......

You see the problem is that many factors and fuckwits are conspiring to ruin everything good about the place.

For anyone who has not had the pleasure of living here, here are some of the benefits of living in Tauranga.

1.      The weather is possibly the best in the country taking into account all of the seasons. Every year Tauranga is in the top three towns in NZ for sunshine hours. That alone is a damned good reason to live here. Frosts are as rare as hens’ teeth and our rain usually has the good grace to get itself over and done with by falling on about a third of the days in each month.

2.      The cost of living is much lower than Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, despite being New Zealand’s fourth or fifth largest metropolitan area. If you include Western Bay of Plenty District, the total population is in excess of 150,000 yet you still have a kind of’ village’ atmosphere where people who don’t even know you smile at you in the street and pass the time of day like people do in small rural towns.

3.      There are excellent white sand beaches, mountains, forests, and excellent soil for growing produce.

4.      A great range of organic and biodynamic food is available and very often grown locally.

5.      There is an amazing community of outrageously talented artists musicians and creative types, most of whom do not carry the airs and graces and general ‘up-themselvesness’ of their equivalents in places like Auckland. (Sorry Aucklanders, but after 18 years spent living there I feel well qualified on that one).

6.      Traffic is not a huge problem with the rush hours being more like rush quarter hours and often much less. The drivers are just as bad as anywhere else though, although not as bad as they were here 20 years ago when the town had a huge elderly bias.

7.      The town and country are so near to one another. You can drive ten or fifteen minutes from the CBD in any direction and be surrounded by farms and bush.

8.      If you get a hankering to go elsewhere, Rotorua, Hamilton and Whakatane are all with an hour to an hour and a half’s drive, Auckland is just two and a half hours away (but why would you go there?) and you can be on the Coromandel Peninsular in an hour and a half or in Taupo in two.

I’ve probably forgotten a whole lot more good reasons, but that is enough to be getting on with.

So who and what are all these factors and fuckwits running this paradise?

The answers to most of the world’s problems can usually be found by ‘following the money’ and I think Tauranga is a classic case of this.

We have (not me I hasten to add) elected at least two consecutive councils that have done Tauranga no favours at all. Led both times by (Getusintoa) Stu Crosby; a man with a strong business profile in Tauranga through his family business – a holiday park.

Now a man with a foot firmly planted in the tourism camp might sound like an ideal Mayor for Tauranga, but unfortunately Getusintoa is an empire builder like so many politicians. He sees himself as the key man in the area and has already made noises about a BOP ‘supercity’, no doubt with himself as Lord Mayor. He is surrounded by a council of mostly like-minded individuals they appear to want to make Tauranga like the Auckland of the BOP. You can see it in the way they have built their newer roads and in their eagerness to build toll roads (just like Big Bro up North). This type of thinking has led them to the immovable notion that Tauranga needs millions of ratepayer dollars spent on a museum of some kind, rather than cleaning up the waterways and upgrading the general infrastructure of the town. Ultimately if such plans are allowed to progress Tauranga will begin to look so much like Auckland that you will need a GPS reading to confirm your location. Of course your rates will have risen dramatically to try and keep pace with Auckland as well.

Of course along with such ambition comes the need for more business, more people more cars, more roads, more mayhem! The ten or fifteen minute drive to the countryside will become an hour due to increased traffic and also because so much of the rural land near to town will have been developed into ghastly housing subdivisions with names like The Lakes (I know it’s there already), The Ponds that all look the bloody same and a GPS will be necessary to navigate your way home from work if you want to positively identify your own house and section.

Along with bigger business comes a larger domination by the big players and this will be most obvious in the case of the food available locally. If the supermarkets continue with their current policies of stocking almost no organic or biodynamic produce, then these will become increasingly difficult to source as more and more big ‘food’ barns squeeze out the smaller operators currently supplying a good range of these foods.

Another factor working against the great food is the Kiwifruit industry which most people think of as a benefit to the region. My take on that is that it is and it isn’t. It is great that kiwifruit grow here and I love kiwifruit, but what is not great is that most of that fruit is grown with the use of nasty agri-chemicals. The sprays and other nasties used by these growers have caused heaps of health and other problems in the area and unfortunately the discovery of PSA just makes this worse. The kiwifruit industry is so hooked on chems that every time they get a wee problem (or a large one) they reach for the chemicals. Of course the whole process becomes like the old lady who swallowed a fly. So look out for many more nasty chems and antibiotics on your supermarket kiwifruit in future.

Unfortunately Tauranga doesn’t seem to be that interested in supporting local live music at the moment. Fewer and fewer live venues are providing regular opportunities to hear good ORIGINAL local bands.

So that has pretty well starts to demolish reasons 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of my eight key reasons for living here.

The Rena has given us what should be a big wake- up call over our beautiful beaches. But Jezza ‘Billy Bunter’ Browneye still wants to drill for oil out here and I would be very surprised if this council did not also support that idea. So there goes that particular neighbourhood along with reason 3 for living in Tauranga.
Hopefully reason 1 (the weather) is beyond the reach of these metropolitan and national vandals. But if the cowshit does hit the fan I will be pleased that reason 8 exists and I can scarper elsewhere (albeit a little more slowly due to the increased urbanisation).


  1. I agree with much of what was written. The council also silence dissent with frivolous, vexatious and bullying lawsuits funded by the rate payer. Central government took a great deal of blame over the Rena disaster because of its lack of preparedness, but port of Tauranga (A regional council enterprise) and the regional council generally should also take a great deal of the blame for putting profits so far ahead of the environment that they had no contingency plans in place for a spill. this is the same regional council that thinks the interests of a run down pulp and paper mill should be protected at all costs to the environment and the local community.

  2. Yes the Regional Council are another example of fuckwits in the equation, Michael, and as for the council and their frequent 'cones of silence'; that's another aspect of it.