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Meandering musings in the capital city

A weekend excursion to Wellington earlier this month gave me the opportunity to take an informal pulse of our near neighbour and our nation’s capital city. I can confirm there is a pulse – a uniquely Wellington pulse.

An early morning walk with a well-behaved dog started in Oriental Bay and wound its way to Parliament buildings and back. Amazingly, it didn’t rain, and there was barely a breath of wind. Luckily for us, the precipitation came later and lasted for two days. Nothing new to report on the meteorological front.

What was evident in the initial stages of my impromptu stroll was the amount of scaffolding about the place. It’s everywhere. And while I would need some expert advice, it looked as though not all that scaffolding had to do with earthquake strengthening. Some buildings were definitely getting a facade upgrade.

The biggest project in the construction category involves some of the city’s iconic buildings on the civic square. Namely, the old Town Hall and the central library. The sheer size of the worksite and the scale of the project would suggest that this particular project is a very long way from completion.

Despite looking like it had just been bombed, there were plenty of tourists taking photographs of the skeletons of the buildings in the area. The nearby Michael Fowler Centre seemed unaffected by the activity, and the staff within were happily selling tickets to upcoming events.

As I got to Willis St, I noticed another common feature. Teenagers. Or perhaps students who have finished exams. They were wandering around like they owned the place. They had not a single care in the world. An enormous weight had been lifted from their shoulders. They were meeting fellow students for a coffee and a light-hearted discussion about parties, holidays, music or movies, or anything that was far from serious or deep. There is plenty of chatter and laughter. Good luck to them. The realities of the working world will come soon enough.

As I get closer to the Beehive, there was an apparent contradiction to the smiley students … civil servants. I’m stereotyping of course, but I couldn’t help but notice the people spilling out of towering government department buildings looking for lunch. The time of the year could be a factor, but many of them look tired and worn down. Are they simply doing what they have to do to get through to the end of the year, or are they worried they haven’t got enough time to get the end-of-year project finished before March?

As I pondered their predicament, a mini-van pulled up and out fell some Guns n Roses fans. I know who I’d rather be.

I turn and head back. I’ve promised my companion an ice cream. One more observation, near Te Papa. A host of new School of Business graduates were gathering for some photos and asked me to lend a hand. I oblige. They have the world at their feet. I wonder if their feet will take them out of Wellington. Probably. Maybe they will come back when it stops raining.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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