Is Tauranga still NZ’s ‘Happy City’?

Rosalie's Writings
with Rosalie Liddle Crawford

Happy news has been scarce lately. I was reading the news headlines this week. They go something like ‘The economy, something, something, you’re still poor’ and ‘Government said it would do something, then didn’t’.

Then there’s the slightly changing non-hysterical health headlines - ‘Covid-19: 2 new cases today’, “Covid-19: 3 new cases today’, and the rather concerning ‘don’t forget about listeria’ - alarming because we all forgot about listeria. In between these are ‘famous people want to move to bunkers in NZ’,  ‘famous person sues other famous person in court’, ‘famous person tweets something’ and ‘famous person gets told off for being a bully’.

Local people seem to also be getting told off for being bullies. And for texting profanity. And for just being elected. Why people would want to be politicians is beyond me. Good governance and leadership doesn’t just magically appear as soon as the votes are counted.

What is good governance? We know it’s about decision-making and implementing those decisions. The fruit of it of course is what we’re all inspecting now. Good governance tends to encourage positive behaviour, a reduction in the cost of capital, better strategic planning that helps weather tough economic storms, and it attracts talented, positive and happy people. Our robust fruit inspectors are picking up a bit of splodge growing on the vine in the form of expletives, bombshells and a souring of relationships. Where has the happy gone?

Star Wars and toast

That reminds me - I was eating sour dough toast with strawberry jam while watching Star Wars last weekend. The first Jar Jar Binks one. It occurred to me that they have a lot in common. Stars Wars and toast I mean. Star Wars has a dark side, some crummy bits, Jar Jar, Chewie and doesn’t land butter-side down. Toast on the other hand has a dark side, some crummy bits, jam jar, chewy, and doesn’t cost $200 million.

Speaking of millions and billions, our economy is like a deadlock situation bucket with a hole in it dear Liza dear Liza. Well fix it dear Henry dear Henry. With what shall I fix it dear Liza? With a straw dear Henry. But we’re on to our third to last straw. When we get to our last straw then what?

It was the last straw for a colleague this week who drives in to work from Welcome Bay. Three and a half hours for the round trip. It would have been quicker if she’d driven to Auckland. Honestly the whole thing is nonsense. She has to come through a few roundabouts, traffic lights, and then, something no longer unique in Tauranga – roundabouts with traffic lights. I remember back in the day when tourists flocked here from Auckland to see our traffic lights at roundabouts. The great driving rule of thumb through them seems to be ‘just go and hope for the best’ with orange lights being interpreted to mean ‘go faster go faster’.

How to use a roundabout could be framed and put in the gallery of all-time wasting-your-time timeline. In the 60s we had yoyos, in the 70s we had Pong, in the 80s we had Pac-Man, Tamagotchis in the 90s, and in the 2000s we have Facebook to spend our waste time on.

The Egosystem

Facebook is part of our egosystem. It’s all about me, my, myself, I and more of me. We have Pinterest, Linkedin, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Tinder, Tumblr, Reddit, Skype, Snapchat, Wordpress, Wechat, Google Plus. One day, this will all be vintage social networking full of happy memories.

Just think, before Instagram, we wouldn’t have remembered what our lunch looked like last Tuesday, the world didn’t see how filthy our bathroom mirror was, and no one was able to see our feet while we reclined in a tropic beach paradise.

It’s been argued though that the internet was invented not to show ourselves off, but to show our cats and dogs off. And smart phones help us do this. I don’t know if I’d rather have a smart phone or a dog. A smart phone answers if called, plays games, sleeps when inactive, is a handy alarm, occasionally falls in the toilet and doesn’t shed. A dog on the other hand answers if called, plays games, sleeps when inactive, is a handy alarm, occasionally falls in the toilet, and doesn’t pocket dial your boss.

My smart phone sends me lots of email requests from people – ‘do you know such and such?’ or ‘do you know so and so?’ I quickly razzledazzle them with my associative memory function by diving quietly into Google with a keyword and hey presto, information. This is fine in the short term until I remind myself that through lack of use, my brain now has very low levels of short term, verbal, spatial and visual associative memory function thanks to Google. I used to be able to recite whole chapters of the Bible, which I memorised as a child because I read far too many concentration camp war stories, but now I use a Bible app.

There’s nearly an app for everything. We just need someone to create a Tauranga Happy App please.


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