Sometimes it’s the journey
By Andrew Frame

Forgive my absence readers, but for the last week and a bit I’ve been Man About Lower Hutt. Nothing overtly thrilling to write about, I must admit sadly. Although having cars pre-emptively giving way to you on pedestrian crossings was an unfamiliar concept. And as a train nut I did love the ride from Melling Station in Lower Hutt to Wellington’s palatial railway station.

The commute conjured up memories of a planned rail service between Napier & Hastings to save on traffic congestion and greenhouse gases. Sadly, planned was about as far as it ever got, since the Bay Express rail service was canned years ago.

One of the first things I saw on my return to Hawke’s Bay was the May Baybuzz Digest with a focus on how Hawke’s Bay is marketed.

With so many local bodies and businesses running their own marketing programmes, there are regularly calls for unification, more cooperation, more money, or even the odd cull of services. Baybuzz looks at some of the basics and gets the perspective of a number of local marketers.

One recommendation by a number of contributors is for Hawke’s Bay marketers to promote what we are, not what we want to be. It’s a wonder you didn’t hear my “I told you so!” all the way over in Havelock North. This is an opinion I have strongly held for many years. In my very first Baybuzz item I said (referring to Napier):

“Since the 90s we have had people trying to turn our city into Ponsonby, Paris, New York, you name it. Some fly-by-night genius has come in with a big idea, made a lot of noise for little (more often absolutely no, or worse, detrimental) result and, somehow, been paid handsomely for it, before jetting off to Ponsonby, Paris or Hastings to try the same thing.

“This is a huge problem. Napier is not and never will be any of those places. What works in Greenwich Village, Soho or Riccarton Mall, won’t necessarily work in Napier. Our city is an eclectic mash of bits and pieces from these places, not a Xerox copy of the whole. But the promoters won’t learn to live with this.”

I’m not a big fan of the Wine Country branding. It may well just be jealousy. My suggestions of Beer Country and Chocolate Country never had a chance. Coffee Country might be worth a go, though. To me Wine Country draws up visions of soppy chick-flicks and books based around a heroine’s pursuit of some rugged villager called Antonio or Pierre in Tuscany or rural France.

But it can always be worse. On my trip to Wellington it was interesting to see how other places are marketed, or not.

Eketahuna … The Kiwi Capital, for example, often gets a bad rap.

Its odd-sounding name makes it memorable, but its small size means a large proportion of people couldn’t locate it on a map given three chances and a large post-it note saying “Its right here!” Eketahuna is often the butt of jokes, normally along the lines of: If you blink driving through town, you’ll miss it. This is cruel and untrue. If you blink driving through Eketahuna, you miss the bend in the middle of town and slam straight into either the St Johns Ambulance Station (if you’re south bound) the Fire Station (if you are traveling north). Both would be ironically fortuitous places to have an accident.

I must say that despite some of the best driving roads in the country leading to, from and around Hawke’s Bay, I can’t say I have ever seen much, if any, promotion of traveling these routes. While not quite America’s Pacific Coast Highway, or Australia’s Great Ocean Road, I consider them some of the smoothest and most enjoyable drives around.

After all, sometimes it’s the journey and not the destination, right?

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1 Comment

  1. Response to last line of posting. Is there a better illustration than the spectacular train journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    What would one do in Greymouth on a wet winters evening if the return journey was not available the same day? The fish and chips are good. After that then what?

    Its like a bigger version of Taradale as it was when I arrived in 1973. The only thing that moved on a wet winters evening after 8pm were the balls of Tumble Weed.

    Everyone went to bed at at 11pm when the Kiwi did at the close of the single station TV.

    It never dawned on State owned TV that Kiwis are at their most active in the night.

    Try being in a mixed gender DOC hut. Kiwis are on the move all night in the undergrowth

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