Auckland. City of JAFAs (which we are reliably informed stands for ‘Joy! Another friendly Aucklander!’). A temperate climate, plenty of nice beaches, 2 harbours, and just enough going on to feel like you’re not quite dying in the cultural doldrums of the world.
So why, then, does everybody in New Zealand, even, sometimes, those who live in the city, hate Auckland so much?
An easy answer would be to pin it on the familiar global trend towards resenting the bigger guy. Scotland hates England. England hates London. Everyone hates America (although a little less so now, after they voted in that basketball player as President). Usually this outward display of distaste is a thin veil for deeply-rooted jealousy. Like Revenge of the Nerds or Mean Girls, the dorks always hate the cool kids, until one of the cheerleaders invites a dork to the prom, and suddenly years of bitter resentment melt away in the sweet, sweet gush of acceptance.
But easy answers didn’t pioneer all those millions of acres of Otago farmland, mate, so, as Kiwis, we are compelled to look for more unnecessarily long-winded answers. Preferably ones that don’t disrespect the Treaty of Waitangi, and can be easily interpreted, artistically, in a tattoo.
Some place the root of this ill-feeling squarely on Aucklanders themselves – for being brash, hustle & bustle city types, who are obsessed only with the rat race, congested roads & making money by exploiting those hard working, Real Zealanders south of the Bombay Hills, who toil away in our 3 backbone industries of Dairy Farming, Bungee Jumping, and Swandri Manufacturing.
The irony of this explanation is that, by most international standards, Auckland is practically a seaside holiday town. And an off-season one at that. People move to Auckland for the quiet life. And it’s (inverted commas) Rat Race consists of two well fed and heavily sedated mice on lilos breezing around a sunny puddle, with no clearly defined course markers or finishing line.
Still, it’s all relative. Just because you could fit all of New Zealand inside an average-sized apartment building in Hong Kong, doesn’t stop residents complaining about those with the bigger rooms. But as an answer, it is still very pedestrian. If it was a sport, it would be Mahjong, and Kiwis prefer something downhill without brakes that requires a safety parachute.
So perhaps the explanation can be found in the very Kiwi need for constant reassurance. Immigrant anxiety. Never quite convinced that moving to the most isolated country on earth was the right thing to do, Kiwis need to be forever reminded of how awesome it is (or, even better, noticed by the rest of the world). Bagging Auckland is a natural extension of this. If, many years ago, you left Auckland to, say, grow oranges in Keri Keri, or open a Dreadlock Hair Salon & Dub Music Cafe in Wellington, then constantly reminding yourself, your partner, friends, collegues, radio talk-back, newspaper editorials, visiting tourists, and the Internet, that Auckland & Aucklanders suck, will help revive any wavering confidence in your current life choices.
Or at the very least, it will make you a great many non-Aucklander friends.