Auckland is home. Where I was born, where I went to school, and the only place I have really known well. This makes it hard, as it’s somewhere you simply love and hate at the same time. It’s hard not to have some fondness for the place you grew up, the streets you grew up playing in and the places you’d go on fun adventures. Driving past where you used to go bowling as a kid or where mum used to take you for ice cream in the weekends really makes you never want to leave. But it’s more nostalgia than an affinity for the city, I feel.
Auckland is growing at an ever-quickening rate. Places that were farms in primary school are now whole suburbs, with schools and shops and hospitals. Old buildings that you associate with fun times are demolished, and replaced with blocks of shops or houses packed in like sardines. Every day it feels like less of the city you know.
Thanks to becoming a “supercity”, Auckland is amongst the most spread out cities in the world. Each suburb or area is the equivalent of a whole town somewhere else in New Zealand, each with its’ own shopping malls and supermarkets, hospitals and night clubs. No two suburbs are quite alike, yet most no more than 10 minutes from the next. People leave their suburb for work, and that’s usually it. People can spend their whole lives without ever travelling south of the Bombay hills, never travelling around the country or overseas. Most of Auckland will never experience what out-of-towners would deem essential Auckland to-do’s, nobody has the time or money.
Auckland is a city where everyone is somewhere for a purpose. You won’t find locals chilling enjoying the sun in the CBD for no reason, or people deciding to walk down Queen St. just because they want to get out and about. That’s not what Auckland is about. Stand on Queen St. on a weekday and you won’t see people marvelling at the buildings, you won’t see people taking in the smells and sounds, you won’t find people there just because they can be. You’ll find people on their phones, on the way to a meeting or work or an interview. It’s not a city that people enjoy, it’s a city for people there to get stuff done.
I always felt begrudged when people made comments about Auckland, or the JAFAs from there but now I can see why. We complain about everything and take up a fair chunk of government funding, all because we feel that as the biggest city we’re entitled to. Every day people complain about the traffic, or the house prices, or the weather. Yet rarely does anybody do anything about it other than complain some more. No wonder people hate us, I hate us. Aucklanders have become so proud of being the biggest city in New Zealand and so offended by anyone ever saying anything less than nice about Auckland, without stepping back and actually asking what there really is to be proud of? Because in my opinion we shouldn’t be proud of traffic, or $1,000,000 average house prices, or incredibly high homelessness rates. We shouldn’t be proud of having to pay $16 a day to catch a train to uni from down south, or the fact that realistically we will never have a mayor that won’t raise rates. Other cities have things to be proud of, student culture or amazing art or great CBD vibes and if Aucklanders want to be respected from anyone else in New Zealand then we need to create something we can be proud of too.((So when I decided to write a post on Auckland and my experiences living here I thought I would also ask an Auckland friend (Cheers @Rob) who grew up here to write their point of view on their home. I kind of figured that it would be a fairer take on the city if given from the perspective of both an insider and outsider. As it turns out we feel pretty much the same, nevertheless it was a cool piece of writing and I love guest posts! So this was Auckland from the perspective of someone who has lived here all of their life.))