Surface tension

By: Julie Cotton

I doubt there is an inhabitant of Auckland who has not laid eyes on some form of grotesque and bloated wastage of ratepayer monies, but the current happenings in my community of Tapora would have to come fairly close to being a “cake topper” on this matter.

Over the summer holidays, I took my children down to the school pool for a swim on a rather warm day. Pulling up outside the adjoining hall, I was surprised to see a heap of cars in the carpark. At first, I was panicking that I had not been told of a community meeting, but on closer inspection I realized all these people and vehicles were in fact from Auckland Council.

Now I am going to be frank here, I had not laid eyes on that many bureaucrats in one location since I last visited the deep bowels of city hall on Queen Street. At that moment, deep panic set in. From my experience, that many bureaucrats in one spot has only ever meant one of two things: either spending big amounts of money or making big amounts of rules, with the latter putting shivers down my spine. They all had their heads down staring at the carpark. What on earth could they be looking at? Perhaps the carpark was an ancient burial site? I had to go over and investigate. I walked over introduced myself and politely asked what it was that everybody was staring at. I was then informed that the council was very concerned with the condition of the carpark surface of our remote little hall, and that it must be upgraded! What on earth was he telling me? It was at this point I had to stop myself from collapsing onto said carpark and rolling around in fits of laughter.

Holding myself together, I gathered enough breath to say, “Are you kidding me? Sweetie, have you seen the condition of the road that leads to this carpark? Because I am pretty sure our community’s biggest concern is getting their vehicles to this carpark and not the condition of the carpark itself.” I was then told that I would have to take my roading concerns up with Auckland Transport (LOL) as the carpark was under the jurisdiction of Parks and Reserves. Oh my Lord, really?

That conversation gave me time to think whether there was any justification for this new, flashy ratepayer-funded carpark. I reminisced over all the “intimate” moments I have had with the carpark over the years, including the time when I nursed my car to it with a brand new $435 tyre, blown apart by a sharp boulder disguised as industry standard road sheeting. I watched my husband, in his good attire, roll around on his back in the mud changing the destroyed tyre in this carpark. I can assure you all that during this intimate carpark encounter many thoughts were rushing through my mind, but the condition of the carpark surface, funnily enough, was not one of them.

The point I am trying to make here, which I am sure is obvious to all, is that our communities are in desperate need of basic core infrastructure, and while we are grateful for flashy, remote carparks, we are also selfless enough to recognise that there are so many needy communities screaming out for the basics, including ours. In the meantime, weeks and weeks later, the carpark is still barricaded off like a full-blown crime scene investigation, and is giving us all an ironic chuckle as we drive past.

Julie Cotton


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