Hard News by Russell Brown


Abroad and Home

"Obviously London didn't want to go with Brexit, it seems ghastly, but it's happening," I asked Tze Ming Mok in the opening part of Sunday's Orcon IRL. "Is it as bad as it seems from this far away?"

"Yes," she replied.

Tze Ming performed the tidy trick of leaving during the last Labour-led government and returning to live in New Zealand just in time to vote for the next one. She joined us at Golden Dawn along with Matthew Dentith, who has been studying strange ideas on the other edge of Europe at the University of Bucharest. Together they were our European correspondents.

While most born Londoners are taking the traditionally British path of not thinking about Brexit and the May government "because it's too depressing", she said "if you're an actual European – and there's plenty of those in London – they're freaking out. Because for the first time they're experiencing racism."

Meanwhile, said Matthew Dentith, "the Romanians really do want to be part of the EU – in part because Romania has a really long history of very corrupt governments and so they see the EU as an external stablilising factor. And the reaction of Romanians to Brexit was 'what have they done? Have they worked out what they're about to lose?'"

To literally bring things home, that opening panel was joined part-way through by Tina Plunkett, who we described as a "community advocate" but who could also be described an ace networker and a person who joins committees that no one under 60 ever joins. We kicked her off on a nice, light non-controversial topic: the cycle lane projects currently turning inner-suburbs liberals into raving nimbys. (Is there a nimby equivalent for residential parking angst?)

"Being a parent around central Auckland, being someone that uses public transport, and a cyclists, with my child, West Lynn shops have never worked," she said. "They've been dangerous, the crossing's been dangerous, cars have priority and it's a massive wide road."

I think everyone acknowledges that the West Lynn part of the work has failed on some pretty basic placemaking standards – see Simon Wilson's identification of the problems and potential solutions – but the response to what is still clearly a work in progress has been fairly striking. Tina pointed out that the rich hippies (my words, not hers) who need to go to Harvest Wholefoods are looking at an additional 12 metres of walking from the angle parks they've lost to the ones that remain.

Anyway, there's more to chew on in the 20-odd minutes of chat and you're very welcome to watch, enjoy and share your perspective. (I'll be posting all the parts of the event in the next couple of days.)

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