Sydney has its opera house, Paris has a Tower, New York has Lady Liberty.

And Napier has the wooden Sound Shell. This relic expresses all the sleepy backwater stands for. Iconoclastic as the structure is, it appropriately states that Napier is totally committed to looking backward. Napier is boldly defiant of the 21st century … holding down anything that is old and rejecting all that is new. Wow.

Here is a love of nostalgic things like the central business district (CBD), rows of old shops hurriedly thrown up in 1931/32, and narrow streets laid down for foot traffic (let’s get rid of cars). No sir, we are not having no ‘big box’ malls here, we don’t need modern shopping complexes. Westfield’s, go home! We are not going to upset lazy landlords who have been creaming good rents out of the retail center for generations.

“Tell me,” they say, “why should Napier move with the times”? All the wealth structures would be altered and local monopolies would be shaken. You wouldn’t do that if it were your property! That is not the way things have been done in Napier and it is not about to be changed! No sir, we do not believe we have to progress with the times. On the contrary, we are protecting our local business investors and there will be no new licenses issued here. We don’t care if the locals charge a bit more, no no sire?. It’s all about holding back the tide of the scary 21st century. Things were better in the good ole days.

Here’s the proof. “Look at our Marine Parade,” they say, “isn’t it beautiful? Wow!” Look at the businesses there. Council has spent millions and millions (and millions) along the Parade and see how these businesses attract the tourists. Wow. Why should we change? Why should we let business be the domain of private enterprise when Council can do it at a huge loss every year? Why, tell me, would you want to change this paradise into something profitable and forward looking and cost effective? These are our toys, our adventures into the business world (on your money).

We have our Marineland. Wow, how the budget tourists love it. They come here from Germany, USA, and Aussie, and all over the planet to see our dolphins Ooops, fish in tubs and stuff. There is nothing like it in the world. Fact – “I am not surprised,” said Lonely Planet’s 1989 edition. Budget tourists bring in a little trade to the city and a totally huge massive spin-off service industry with seasonal work for almost a hand full of students and a few Council employees. Wow, such cunning genius. No one can say Napier Council is subsidizing employment; that would be a lie. No, the strategy is that one day the tourism “attractions” investment will make a profit. But not in my lifetime.

In this town where time stood still, you can visit the Council-owned businesses, stay at a Council-owned holiday park, enjoy Council-owned theatre shows, retire to a Council flat. All the while knowing you will pay budget rates with a discount because the Ratepayers vouch for it. Ratepayers don’t care. They like you to have a nice time at their expense … they were born to this tradition. The economics are just as they were in 1949. Yes sireé, Council knows best, committees are better at decisions, and discounts are built-in when Ratepayers pay.

This little town is not going to change one iota. Can you imagine it in 20 or 30 years time? Stuck in this time warp with those narrow-alley main streets. Those Norfolk pines will take over, and we will be pouring millions into pompous business adventures. Wow. Still no new jobs coming up in the job market. Still pumping sewerage into the sea, still looking back at how things used to be, still whacking the Ratepayers and Wowing the budget tourists.

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3 Comments

  1. Sure hope your'e feeling heaps better for getting that little lot of your chest Brian. I agree wholeheartedly that the Napier City Council has no right being in business- in direct unfair competition with its own often strugling private business ratepayers! Afterall why should the ever flogged Napier ratepayers prop-up business that can not, or will not pay their own way? Why prop -up the $10,000 000 fish tank to the tune of over $12,000 per week or prop -up what used to be the "peoples" War Memorial Hall before it became and was renamed the War Memorial Hall & Confernce Centre to the tune of over $18, 000 per day-yes $18,000 per day!

    And the visitor information centre -why isn't the profits from its sales of souveniers ( in direct competition to privatly owned souvenier shops) and the 10% commision it slugs Napier's

    tourism operators enough money to keep it afloat without it being being further subsidised by the ratepayers purse?

    To my knowledge….there is only three councillors..Jeffery, Herbert and what's his name——————————————————————————-Spony Price that, have any amount of "real" business acumen. The rest of the pretenders were found to be either totally unemployable in the real private business world or could not even manage make a succsess out of runnng a baby

    ware shop in Emerson Street or a corner dairy in the 1970s!

    Yet those very same people have the temerity to gamble with ratepayers hard earned cash with little to no public accountability! If it wasn't for the ever milked goose that lays the the golden eggs- Kennedy Park Holiday Complex – heavens knows what the "true" cost for subsidising our so called tourism attractions would be ??

    For as anybody with anything between the ears would agree. Any business in the real world NOT paying its own way would rightfully go down the gurgler! But not here sir, Not as long as we ratepayers are treated like mushrooms –

    kept in the dark and fed bovine manure-long will it go on and on.

    And remember unlike us, council pays No income tax and No rates!

    Now for a litttle lightheartedness. Bloke goes to a fully booked

    out match at the Caketin in Wellington. Tickets as rare as hens teeth and common sense in local government!

    ABs playing the Aussies.

    Half time another spectator remarks to the bloke how hard it was to get tickets -and enquires how come he happens to have an empty seat right next to him? Oh says the bloke it was the wifes -but she died . Oh, sincerely sorry about that

    says the spectator -and then asks how come he never offered the ticket to your mates? Oh I did replied the bloke -but theyr'e all at the funeral!

  2. I can see where you're going with this Brian. I constantly have the fear in my periphery that one day, very soon, all our 40 year old "attractions" and promotional thinking are going to come a gutser. We'll become a vacant, Brighton-esque destination.

    As Mark Twain put it when he stayed at the original Masonic Hotel many, many moons ago; While the popular tourist term at the time was "See Naples and Die", with our long breakwater and little else, Napier's could have been "See Napier and Spit"

    It's kinda catchy…

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