Up Front by Emma Hart


Time for an Intervention

Dear Christchurch,

You know I love you, right? When people are getting all down on you for being slutty and scary but conservative and privileged, I’ve been right there sticking up for you, you know that. Just the other day I was saying how ridiculously beautiful you can be at this time of year. But listen, we need to have a talk. This thing you have with mayors has got to stop.

You really just can’t go on picking guys because you’ve heard of them before. And then you let them hang around until they get sick of you, every time. Have you ever considered kicking one out, just to see what it feels like?

And this one: what the hell were you thinking? Oh, wait, I know, “There’s a name I recognise!” And now you’re standing by a guy who thinks the best way to deal with people putting rubbish in rubbish bins is to get rid of the bins?

Did you not start to get an inkling that things might not be all roses the night he came home and told you he’d blown $17m of your money buying a bunch of properties from a developer so they didn’t get bought by some other developer? And he was all, “But they were on sale! We saved heaps! We’ll make it back, and anyway, shut up, what would you know?”

The worst thing about this is how bloody embarrassing it is. Remember how we used to say to Auckland, “So…. This famous mayor you’ve got yourself, how’s that working out?” And we’d nod sympathetically and then go home and laugh so hard we couldn’t breathe? Now they’re laughing at us. Not only does your mayor have a nick-name, but we’ve even got an MP in charge of screwing us over. And it’s Nick Smith. You gave Nick Smith a platform to be smarmy and condescending. How do you even sleep at night? Nick Smith, who has no kind of conflict of interest whatsoever.

Sure, your mayors used to be dull and you’d keep them forever, and maybe they didn’t buy you flower shows, but at least they were kind of competent and seemed to give a damn. And we weren’t entertaining the rest of the country with our hopelessness.

So look, let’s try something different. You’ve got this election coming up, and there are bits of it you’re still allowed to vote in. (Because, y’know, your guy thinks you’re incompetent to vote for Regional Council, but still okay to vote for City Council. Because something.) Let’s forget about the Big Names, and look at policy. Yes, I know that’s hard. Yes, I know that’s Jim Anderton. Could you try to concentrate, please?

Who’s going to treat you like an adult? Presuming, of course, that you want to be treated like an adult. Who’s going to treat your opinions with respect and realise that their job is to represent those opinions and serve them as best they can? Who got a good science education at high school and understands that water that runs out to sea isn’t “wasted”? Who’s going to realise they’re not running a business, and that they need to look after your kids, too? (Cashel Mall: classical music to deter ‘young people’ from congregating – outside a high school. Screw ‘em, they’re going to be drinking bottled water when they grow up anyway, and have nowhere to put the bottles when they’re finished.)

I’m really worried about you, Christchurch. You used to be cool. Okay, that wasn’t you, that was Wellington. But you at least used to not be actively embarrassing. Pick someone who’ll stand by you. Someone who, when the Big Bullies come down to take your votes, won’t side with them and tell you you’re stupid. Someone who’ll say, “No, man, Christchurch is an adult, let her make her own decisions. Red stilettos, pro-environment regional councillors, whatever. It’s not our job to judge.”

And maybe, when you’ve considered track records and policy and stuff, you’ll still pick Sideshow Bob, because you genuinely believe he’s got your best interests at heart, even when you have visitors over and he tells them you’re a dangerous skank. That’s your decision. But just let me warn you: Justin Bieber’s coming, and you can’t make him mayor, okay?

Emma Hart is the author of the book 'Not Safe For Work'.

(Click here to find out more)

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