Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


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Just a few random Wellington bits and pieces.

Boy racers are a genuine pain in the arse, but there's something cringeworthy about the front page headline of today's Wellingtonian. "Curb boy racers - tourist". Tourist? It takes a Londoner on holiday to tell us that they're a problem? The issue, apparently, is that they make the place look downmarket and "might cause UK residents to overlook the capital as a tourist destination". I can imagine it now: "I say, old chap, you're not jaunting off to Wellington, are you? I hear the place is crawling with beastly young men in cheap automobiles". He doesn't make any concrete suggestions about how to stop them, but apart from installing a gate on Aotea Quay and turning back anyone with a a car-value to stereo-value ratio of less than one, I'm not sure what anyone can do beyond the current regulations. You can't legislate against morons. We could pedestrianise Courtenay Place, or perhaps give up on it entirely and start a new entertainment district somewhere else.

Hollie Smith at the SoundshellHollie Smith played at the Soundshell last night, as part of the Meridian Energy Summer City ASB Gardens Magic Concert Series (to give it its full, sponsor-tastic name). The Soundshell gardens work so well because they're relatively sheltered, and the hills and trees give them a pleasantly enclosed feeling. It's also outside the liquor ban: hooray!

It seems to be all-hands-on-deck down at Waitangi Park. It may be over budget, but from the amount of frantic digging, building and tree-planting there recently, it seems that they're going all-out to have it finished in time for the Arts Festival. I know that there was no intention to do so, but it would have been nice to get the skate park finished in time for Vodafone X*Air (gosh, I'm being nice to sponsors today). In another piece of not-quite-perfect timing, the Free Ambulance Building is due for completion in April. Rumour has it that it has indeed been leased as some sort of restaurant, café or bar, which would be perfect for a relaxing drink in the sun, but it'll be just in time for Autumn. Drat.

Tze Ming Mok doesn't often write about Wellington, but she's made an exception in order to slag off Monsoon Poon (probably justified), Chow (less so) and pretty much every Malaysian restaurant in Wellington (what the?!?). Of course she's going to be a better judge than I, and she's mostly referring to the noodly stuff rather than the South Indian/Tamil dishes that I prefer (Rendang, Thosai, Murtabak), but it seems a bit of a blanket dismissal. She may have something approaching a point when she says that "all the roti in Wellington Malaysian noodlebars seems to be made by the same frozen roti company and is far too sweet", but "all" seems a bit strong: try Rasa in Cuba St or Roti (Rao's place) in Willis St before writing it all off. And I think she misses the point a bit when she says "when it came to Asian food in central Wellington, Chow is for suckas". No-one goes to Chow for cheap, authentic Asian food: it's about good cocktails, a hip crowd and stylish decor with some tasty Asian-influenced food. But she's certainly right that we lack a late-night Asian food court with alcohol: maybe A-mart would be willing to branch out?

And one thing that's not Wellington-related (thank god), but conceivably could happen here: Auckland developers have been placing covenants on land titles to stop the land being sold or leased as state or council housing. And to think that in London, private housing developments are required by law to include a certain percentage of affordable housing. Ah, property values, the greatest god in the Kiwi pantheon, and eternal justification for prejudice and Nimbyism!


At 5:16 pm, January 12, 2006, Blogger s. said...

As I wrote in my comment to the erstwhile Tze Ming Mok, after reading her post:

Subject: Oh, fer fuck's sake
Message: You know, I think I might emigrate. I just can't get a decent Toad in the Hole or Spotted Dick ANYWHERE in this godforsaken country.

At 5:27 pm, January 12, 2006, Blogger the_sifter said...

I dare her to present me a better (sub $10) laksa than from KK Malaysia in Ghuznee St.

At 4:49 am, January 13, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the roti at Rasa is pretty much what I'd expect for under $10. It's a bit on the lonely side, though. Being a relative newcomer to the city, I find the Malaysian fast food joints pretty good fare for the dollar.

Chow is all about the vibe, not the food, so that critique is irrelevant.

I'll check out KK Malaysia when I'm back.

Once again, for someone relatively new to Wellington and NZ, your site is just perfect. Of course, it helps that I like to drink and eat and think about things urban.

At 1:55 pm, January 13, 2006, Blogger Tom said...

Now now, Jo, you're starting to sound like that nutter behind "Progressive" Essays. To be fair to Tze Ming, she's only been a Jafa for a year, and was in Wellington before that, so she should know what she's talking about. And the Monsoon Poon that she lambasts is the recently-opened Auckland branch.

Not being a fan of seafood, bean sprouts, peanuts or coriander, I can hardly hold myself up as an authority on Asian food. I've had some pretty good times at Monsoon Poon (and some very mediocre ones), and the best meals I've had there have been the South Asian ones. No idea if they were authentic at all, but the flavours seemed to be crisper and fresher than in yer bog-standard curry house.

Maybe food courts do have cheaper, more authentic "ethnic" food than upmarket restaurants, but that won't get me there: I'm allergic to plastic cutlery and fluorescent lighting. The closest I'd go to a foodcourt would be Satay Kingdom (which I keep going back to despite the rubbery roti) where the atmosphere is more Cuba St than Johnsonville Mall.

Enough. If I go on any longer I might start pining for my own national cuisine. Vindaloo, innit?


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