Auckland is the Best / Worst City in the World
By Liam Hansen (he/him)
Having been doomed to the outskirts of Waitākere since birth, my sad ol’ city slicker heart has gone through hell (AKA Swanson) and back throughout the Delta lockdown with my silly little walks confined to leg-killing uphill driveways and roadside gutters filled with smashed Heineken bottles. For all the cramps and emotions lockdown gave me, it also provided me with a newfound love for this beautiful, vibrant, not-quite-small city I have the privilege to live to the side of. The local musicians and artists dotted throughout the place are stunning. The food - I didn’t realise there was good food in this city until we went into level 3! I’m never eating at another fucking Tank again! From Te Arai to Bombay (they count, right? Google Maps says so), each corner here has something about it to discover and fall in love with.
What is Auckland's culture?
Sailboats? International musicians?Sprawling city streets and quaint little suburbs? It’s pretty hard to say, because there's too much to contain in one paragraph. Anything and everything is available. K' Road overwhelms me with creativity every time I get up there, MountEden and Kingsland are paving the way in great food and coffee, whilst a twenty minute drive north-west will take you to the never ending land of wineries that is Kumeū. I don’t even like wine, but fuck are vineyards comforting. And the music! Much of the best hip-hop we have to offer is coming from the south, and 95bFM has cemented itself as the only good radio station in the country. Also, stop pretending you dislike the Shore. At least not Devonport.
The Beaches & Natural Beauty:
Good news, nature-y types! You don’t need to go to Queenstown for a pretty view. Once again, our strong point is the variety. I spent half my childhood watching the live music at Te Henga/Bethells Beach(is that still going? If not, please bring it back!), but there’s also the cityside beauty of Takapuna and Mission Bay (ice cream, baby!) and several teeny getaways. The various bushwalks my parents dragged eight year old me on paid off. Greenery is awesome.
Walking Through a Work in Progress:
I remember walking through town for the first time in months last December. The seemingly dead Skyworld was going back under construction. Real Groovy was bustling with hipster teenagers and nostalgic dads. The new Queen Street Maccas was admittedly less charming, but way less gross as well. Tāmaki Makaurau is still running up on a down escalator. New buildings are being opened weekly, and for all its flaws you can’t deny that Auckland Transport is trying to improve. We’re becoming a city built for people, businesses, tourists, anyone. I can’t wait for the day when the renovations are over, because Auckland will be unstoppable inits final form.
Auckland is the Worst City in the World
You guys are delusional.
Shortly before the Delta lockdown, I had the privilege to do a wee tour of that other place in NZ. The Mouth Island? The Soft Eye Land? There’s some neat stuff down there! A dog statue by a lake! Who would’ve thought? Unfortunately, I followed up that lovely trip with three and a half months stuck in Auckland. I have become so sick of this godforsaken region that I consider home. It’s not just the traffic, the bland CBD, or the underfunded everything excluding the public transport system that’s somehow still shit. It’s the vibes. Fuck these vibes. Tell me, why are we one of the most expensive cities in the world? I could be in Rome, Berlin, or Cork for less! Why can’t I be in Cork?!
Where is Auckland's culture?
Please point me in the right direction. Somewhere that isn’t the art gallery. When the biggest draw for me staying here is the prayer that all of my tickets for international gigs won’t be delayed by Miss Rona, you know I’m desperate. Every funky mural or piece of street art seems to exist solely to be covered up 20 hours later, whereas I could walk down a random Pōneke street and find some of the coolest shit I’ve ever seen. At the moment my best bet is to piss off to The Fringe District (please just stop) and sip on a burnt, eight dollar flat white. I cannot walk down a central city street without feeling judged by richer students for not dressing cool enough, and my ears are still ringing from the car radios out west. And don’t point me to the North Shore. At least not Devonport. Torn uptown, my ass.
The Beaches & Natural Beauty:
Fuck sand. Anakin was right.
Think back to when you were a kid. Walking through town with your parents. Skyworld was still open and it wasn’t shit. Walking to Real Groovy wasn’t a lung killer. The central Queen Street Maccas was weirdly big. Fun times, right? Other than the construction. And the public transport. And the traffic. And - holy shit guys, this is it! The point of the article! Tāmaki Makaurau has been glitzing itself up for my entire life. One day this will be open, and one day that will be ready. It feels like we’ve been constantly running around trying to find the next thing to fix whilst completely ignoring the core issues plaguing this city. No matter how many shiny coats of paint we place over formerly affordable suburbs, it won’t affect the actual people who are struggling to afford their rent or food, or missing work because of public transport.I can’t wait for the day the renovations are over, but even if it isn’t too little, it’ll probably be too late