Every Auckland beach was once a free event.
Before Councils came along and began organising our lives everyone in Auckland loved going to the beach. This was where, as a nation, we were fully alive and free. The edge of our island nation; the constantly changing light as our planet soared through the cosmos; the Gannets wheeling overhead and plummeting down to catch a fish. Swimming at high tide; building a sand castle; watching the moon rise with a lover; bare feet on sand and rock.
Unfortunately nothing offends people with power and authority quite as much as watching other people having fun. It was understandable that the bureaucrats and planners felt left out, as they sat in their dismal offices passing mediocre regulations telling other people how to live their lives.
Our beaches were of course also beyond the comprehension of economists. Financiers loathe anything which is free. How can you make money out of something which costs nothing? Unless you sell it of course. You do not need to be an economist to realise that the profit margin is never higher that when you sell someone something which comes free. The concept of “waterfront development” was just waiting to be discovered.
An “events centre” at the waterfront goes much further than being faintly ridiculous. It is a classic example of cultural insensitivity and misunderstanding. It is nothing more than taking something away so that you can sell it to the people you have robbed. Once we took it for granted that our cities, like our waterfronts, were pure theatre, with only the buskers asking for a dollar, while everyone else simply put on a show. Now we argue about how many seats there should be in the venues.
When we reduce people to watching someone else’s performance we take away their humanity. People who do not participate in life are already dead. The truly disadvantaged are those not playing the game, although perhaps the people we should feel really sorry for are those who do not realise it is a game.
No one really goes to an architect to get a house designed. Clients want a display to reassure themselves and their friends. The annual architectural fashion awards have nothing to do with architecture. They are just another theatrical performance of catwalk display. The puzzle with “Auckland Unleashed” is why anyone would bother to participate in such a dull, boring performance. If you put on a show at least let it be a good one.
When our beaches were themselves an event everyone was a participant. Councils changed all that. The new static built environment of architects and bureaucrats got everything wrong. It fractured the water cycle, for example, and even destroyed those dynamic natural eco-systems which had formerly breathed life into our world. When the natural processes which produce sand had been brought to a standstill Councils had an excuse to re-sand from elsewhere to create their image of the Bahamas. The tourist brochures of those selling beaches, quite understandably, assured the bureaucrats that beaches in the Bahamas were better than anything we had in Auckland. Did no one notice they were deserted?