“A Visitor From Hawke’s Bay”
It used to be a term of snide derision.
The moniker for any unidentified person in the society photo section of Auckland’s Metro magazine in the 80s.
Whether they had their back turned, or were wearing a lampshade, they were “A Visitor From Hawke’s Bay”
Some in our region may have even aspired to it, but not many.
Certainly not me.
Yet, over recent months I have been an actual “Visitor from Hawke’s Bay” to Auckland several times, on account of surgery I needed to undergo that could only be done in the city.
Rather than the local tourism board paying for my visit and lavishing me with luxury accomodation and gourmet food as Hawke’s Bay’s agencies do to visiting Auckland media, the Ministry of Health paid for my return travel and equal nights’ accomodation in both motel and hospital beds, and I had to hunt and gather my own food, except when my kind social media friends shouted me a coffee or lunch. (Disclosure statement ends.)
Planes, Trains, Ferries and Lime Scooters
A little over a month after my last trip to Auckland I am waiting at Hawke’s Bay Airport for the flight which will take me up for my operation in two days time to arrive. Strong cross-winds have seen the in-bound flight delayed and diverted to Palmerston North, with the plane eventually arriving in Napier two hours late.
It could be worse. Those on the flight from Auckland all had to disembark in Palmerston North and are being bussed up to Hawke’s Bay.
The flight to Auckland is smooth and far quicker than my previous commute.
I spend most of the trip with my head plastered to the window. While I’m almost 42, the “magic” of flight still fascinates me and I eagerly soak in the airborne views of our magnificent country – Forestry operations in the central North Island, glistening lakes and rivers and even the Firth of Thames and Coromandel Peninsula are all things I get to see far too infrequently.
I am due to be admitted to hospital for two nights, one either side of my operation, but before that I have a night in a motel equidistant between downtown Newmarket and Auckland’s Central Hospital.
As I ride there on an airport shuttle I become very aware of just how many cars there are in Auckland.
They are EVERYWHERE!
You get an idea of just how bad vehicle congestion could get in the city when you see the sheer volume of cars lining residential streets. They almost out-number fallen leaves on the more arbourous thoroughfares.
It’s strikingly evident that when/if the Zombie Apocalypse strikes it would be only the cockroaches and cars that remain in Auckland.
My accomodation is on the lower northern slopes of Mount Eden – a Maunga I had intended to summit on my last trip, before car trouble scuttled the attempt.
A look at the nearby clouds and realisation that I forgot my jacket scupper any thoughts of doing it on this occasion either, so I head in towards Newmarket as raindrops begin to fall.
After a couple laps of Broadway I have run out of things to see or do and with no supermarket nearby I hop on a train and head into the CBD.
I do some browsing and pick up a few bargains and some dinner along High Street and its lanes, including another trip to Krispy Kreme (for dessert), before searching out a supermarket.
My search takes me through the recently developed area around Britomart, which I have to say is quite stunning! Old and new seamlessly meld together for offices, restaurants and shops.
I wander back along the waterfront and catch a train back to Newmarket, walking back to my hotel past a wide range of asian eateries.
While waiting for a crossing light I absently look in the window of one restaurant and watch a young pakeha woman teaching her children how to use chopsticks.
Fusion cuisine AND fusion people!
I also feel a little homesick for a moment.
The next morning I am up and out early to see a man about a Travelator.
Yet another train ride reveals some odd train etiquette – Despite the train being quite full of early morning commuters, no one ever talks to, or looks directly anyone else! This is quite a challenge for someone like me who is usually quite chatty and inquisitive, but apparently its “a thing” all over the train-commuting world.
I get off the train at Britomart, cross the road and hop on a ferry to Devonport, to meet David Slack – another long-time (well, by Twitter standards) friend, who takes me for a tour around his neighbourhood and up his maunga – Mount Victoria – something I have been wanting to do again since I climbed it early one morning while on a course in Auckland a decade and a half ago.
David is marvelous company. We have coffee and chat at a village cafe after exploring Devonport and viewing its surrounds, then I must start heading towards the hospital.
The ferry ride to Devonport and back is great fun too – After my tachycardia episode I have taken greater pleasure in the little things like viewing things from different perspectives – Whether it be from the air or the sea they are fun experiences.
From the ferry building I slowly make my way up Queen Street, aiming to be at the hospital at my check in time of 2pm.
I stop here and there to get gifts for my wife and daughter, before meeting another Twitter friend, Mark Graham, who has kindly offered to buy me lunch at “The Kimchi Project” – an smart, narrow “Asian Fusion” restaurant on Lorne Street with a great big garden bar out the back.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have been very fortunate to meet some great people on social media. When used correctly and kindly, as it should be, it really is a SOCIAL media!
I thank Mark and make my way to the hospital after eventually realising the “north and south” of my Google map does not necessarily equate to what passes as the M.C. Escher-esque reality of Auckland geography.
I cross Grafton Bridge on foot and make it to my ward for admission right on time.
My visits to Auckland have coincided with the boom of Lime E Scooters in the city. It is as impossible to miss coverage of the new mobility devices as it is to miss the scooters themselves.
You regularly see people riding past on them, but even more often see clusters of them on footpaths, awaiting their next hire.
I would have been more likely to give one a try were it not for the number of reported incidents and injuries involving them.
I’m already going to hospital for an operation. I don’t fancy a side-trip to the Emergency Department!
I stick to walking.
After some preliminary admission tests I am given licence to wander off until tea time, so, seeing the Auckland Domain and the War Memorial Museum beside the hospital I decide to go for a stroll through there.
On my stroll I find myself overcome with emotion.
When I was young I had an unusually large head for a child and we were sent up to Auckland Hospital for an MRI scan (apparently my head knew I would grow to be 6’8″ before the rest of me did and was merely getting the jump on things).
I clearly remember playing with one of those cheap 80s pull-cord plastic helicopters on a hill in The Domain with Mum and Dad (it must have been in between a scan and seeing the doctor about the results).
As I crest one of The Domain’s hills (likely the very one we flew the pull-cord helicopter on) I have a quiet moment & cry thinking of Mum and Dad, who are no longer with me.
While recovering from my operation the next day I have time to reflect on my recent experiences of Auckland as A Visitor from Hawke’s Bay.
Auckland is a marvelously, multicultural city!
Middle eastern and African teenagers have served me American fast food. I ate at a Korean restaurant, was operated on by a Indian surgeon and a Sri Lankan anaesthesiologist, both of whom had “Oxbridge” accents, and the night after my operation I fell asleep listening to a sweet old lady praying in Tongan.
A week or so after my operation some perennially privileged, pathetic pakeha politician trys to make some sort of inference in mainstream media about who are “real New Zealanders” and who aren’t.
This is our country and these are all our people. We are all kind, caring, compassionate kiwis!
The “JAFFA” is Dead
With more modern, inclusive times upon us, it’s reasonable to say the term “JAF(F)A”, an acronym for “Just Another F***ing Aucklander”, is dead.
To be fair, it was usually used as a parochial term for the “small fish, big pond” sort of person who moved from Auckland to regional New Zealand to try and assert the authority they felt they lacked in the big city upon provincial plebs. So maybe not as applicable to Aucklanders on their home turf.
It is (or was) the antithesis of “A Visitor From Hawke’s Bay”.
Everyone I encountered in Auckland was polite, kind and considerate, no matter their race, sex, or National Provincial Championship rugby affiliation. I would gladly see the back of its use, and that of similar terms.
I’ll see You Again, When the Stars Fall From the Sky..
A few weeks later I am back at Greenlane for a post-op check-up.
Flown there and back in a day it is probably the closest I have gotten to being a jet-setting-corporate-business-commuter-type.
With a couple hours to spare either side of my appointment between arrival and departure I get to do some more exploring.
Still unable to get up Mount Eden (next time!) through a lack of logistics (maybe those Lime Scotters aren’t such a bad idea after all..) I take a stroll through Cornwall Park and mount Maungakiekie, One Tree Hill.
There is only so much land to occupy on the Auckland isthmus and from my viewing spot it looks pretty much all occupied.
While many suburban Aucklanders seem quite averse to multi-story townhouses and appartments in their leafy streets, it would appear, as 80s band Yazz sang, that “The Only Way is Up!” to ease this problem.
I head back to Napier a content Visitor From Hawke’s Bay.
Auckland is a neat city with lots of diversity, but also a few issues.
As with most problems, though, I’m sure those issues could be resolved with help from, or by listening to others like regional New Zealand.
As I board my flight home I notice something that Paul Brislen picks up on via Twitter a few weeks later.
While the snide side of “A Visitor From Hawke’s Bay”, just like “JAFFA”, is well past its used by date, there is something a large number of those bound for Napier have in common – We have all been “A Visitor to (Auckland Domestic Airport’s) Krispy Kreme“.
Perhaps there’s an opportunity for an alternative nickname (or, at least a new regional franchise) there!