Tāmaki locals, I’ve Got Some Questions For You

By Petra Shotwell (she/they)



Unlike your typical ‘welcome back’ issue, I don’t set out to provide you with all the answers for your first year at uni. In lieu, I’m going to give you a list of questions – and I guarantee many of you newbies have been asking the very same.


Like many of you fresh-faced and fizzing first years, I, too, am new to town and nervously embarking on my AUT journey (though, considerably less fresh-faced). Me, from being so safe in Pōneke’s loving arms, and you, from wherever you ran from, chose to move to Covid central. Whether heading for post-grad study like yours truly, leaving home for the first time, or none of the above, decisions were made, and they landed us here. Some were sceptical, but wished us well; others whole-heartedly congratulated us; but the Wellingtonians...the Wellingtonians shook their heads and asked us ‘why?’


It is a well-known fact, a requirement, if you will: Wellingtonians hate Auckland. ‘Hate’ is a strong word, but so is the Wellington wind, so those hipsters know what they’re talking about. I, having only visited Tāmaki Makaurau once prior to moving, was riddled with nerves but somewhat prepared to address the feelings of hatred that I was warned would follow me. Those feelings never came. Instead, the past month has been quite comfortable – enjoyable, even. Do I like it here? Am I a bad Wellingtonian? Can I even call myself a Wellingtonian anymore, or have I been claimed by this secretly not-so-bad city? Accepting my fate as an almighty JAFA, I’ve chosen to take the high road. It is now my quest to prove Wellington wrong, with sufficient evidence to answer for Auckland’s downfalls. But you see, I just can’t get my head around the downfalls – that’s where you come in. Those with answers to the following are invited to write a letter to the editor, or, if your curiosity should stray, track me down on Instagram and provide me with the answers I so desperately crave.


Editor’s note: debate@autsa.org.nz welcomes any beach recs and ant killer suggestions


1. The HEAT – from the land of the wind and chills, I am entirely unaccustomed to this sweltering warmth. I’ve resorted to changing my shirt at least twice a day because the under-boob sweat will not cease. How is one to sleep? To exercise? To merely exist without melting on the spot? And on that note-


2. Where is one to SWIM? – I’ve been warned by various long-time Tāmaki residents that swimming anywhere too central is something I will soon regret, due to the misfortune of floating human excrement. In which case, where can one swim without straying too far? I need an afternoon dip to combat the heat, not an all-day coastal excursion.


3. It’s so BIG (oh yeah, so big) – I barely know where I am half the time. Thankfully, I have my own car, so travel isn’t bad – but what’s with a five-minute drive equating to a half-hour walk? Is there a constant, subtle slope? Is it a strange road layout? Am I merely a painfully slow walker? Why does it take an eternity to get anywhere by foot?


4. FACEBOOK MARKETPLACE – need I say more? Buyers call me ‘ma’am’, which I very much am not; sellers insist on cash, which I can’t find anywhere; I’m offered miniscule fractions of the asking price with complete sincerity. I even once had someone ask whether the suitcase I was selling was for boys, or only girls – to which I responded “unless I’m VERY mistaken, I don’t believe suitcases are gendered. This one can be used by all humans.” Is there something in the water (other than the pollution)? Marketplace, why are you like this?


5. Where are the FARMER’S MARKETS? – ya gal just wants a cheap, tasty vegetable or two. It seems that the haul from a veggie market here costs approximately double your average Wellington haul. Is there a market I’m unaware of that would satisfy my cravings, or are veggies here inherently more expensive? Tell me more.


6. ANTS – the goddamn ants. Is this an Auckland thing? Is it the heat? I’m not even leaving food out – are they after my blood? Nothing will cure the infestation. They’re inside closed jars, they’re in my cat’s food bowl, they’re in unopened, sealed packets of gluten free wraps. Ants are a gift from the devil, please help me exterminate them.


7. Finally, because seven is my favourite number and apparently a gay one, where are the QUEERS? – I know they’re out there, they must be, but why can’t I find them? I understand that with the dreaded level Red destroying the arts, our dear drag shows are struggling. In which case, where else can I find my fellow queers? Can you point me in the direction of a pottery class? A queer book club? A secret society to promote the gay agenda? When drag shows are in a lull, where might a friendly pansexual go to make new, queer friends?