Does Auckland really need world-class rates?
It can boast a world-class site for a city, world-class volcanoes, world-class harbours, world-class pohutukawa for Christmas, and even a world-class climate.
All this came free and at no cost to the ratepayers. In contrast the built environment, or at least the public domain for which the Council is responsible, is very Third-World-class. A change of attitude is needed, not more money.
As Glenn Murcutt, the Pritzker Prize winning architect, recently suggested, great urban design is a response to place, not an imposition on it.
We need to spend less on destroying our wonderful natural environment, not more. Even sustainability, today's great fashion, is a low-cost adventure. The only truly sustainable city is the one you do do not build.
Urban design is at its best when interventions are low-cost and minimal. At Christmas world-class presents are no substitute for a world of your own where you can walk along a beach and feel the hot sand between your toes.
First published in the New Zealand Herald 16 December 2005