The Wellingtonista

Random stuff about Wellington since 2005

Cross Tory Street heading toward Aro; banish the Carrilon’s long shadow behind the white-and-teal Bible Society on your left, Nurse Maude’s mosaic gaze upon your right shoulder. Point your nose toward Tara-Ngaki Street – “shining mountain-peak” – and feel Haining Street incline beneath your feet as Tory’s constant woosh recedes into urban din. The senses strain for a reference worth savouring. In the right wind, L’affare’s rich gold-brown aroma will follow until salty-spicy Vivian Street unfurls on your left; but to the eye, Haining offers little, Media and Image and Print wafting inky acridity.

As the street’s mid-point lulls the tread gently downhill, historic notoriety looms. Round eyes once squinted warily down Haining; behind receded epicanthes were conjured an air thick with opium, grubby gold, illicit sex. Here children were forbidden to play lest a Chinaman shadow them away. Here in September 1905 – the Year of the Snake – goldminer Joe Kum Yung began his long, lonely journey home: his skull ruptured, blood and brain leaking onto Haining, head brought low by the metal slug fired from Lionel Terry’s gun.


“A serpent’s tail will taint / the things we neglect / if we turn from instinct,” Chris Tse has the dying Kum Yung muse: one of the many serpentine references signposting How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes, Tse’s lyric history of Haining Street’s defining crime. Serpents stand for irrepressible reflex, animal cunning buried within soft mammalian mind; and for renewal, the casting of live skin into dead totem. Years of the Snake are times for action: “this is not a year for fence-sitters,” cautions Chinese astrologist Theodora Lau.


Most of the actions in Kum Yung’s story as it’s told today are those of Lionel Terry. As the gunshot echoed and cordite burned his nostrils, Terry’s feet must have throbbed relief. He’d walked all the way from Doubtless Bay, on a purifying mission from the “Great Gold God” to whom he dedicated the opening pages of his rambling, racist conspiracy-tract, The shadow. The pamphlet, which Terry handed out freely on his pilgrimage, is readable at the Victoria State Library. His self-portrait – Dürer silhouette twisted by a riddling stare – can be viewed at Te Ara.


But the skin Joe Kum Yee shed was sent back East, and we have few totems of the life he tried to make here. Tse plays the role of psychopomp: lending Kum Yee’s spirit voice as it strains against the ropes of history, of circumstance, of tensions scarcely slackened in our time. Joe Kum Yee, who sought fortune beneath foreign mountains, was farewelled by lantern-light, far from Lionel Terry’s asylum cell; but Haining Street sits still in that same shadow.


Logo 2014This afternoon we popped down to Vivo for the annoucing of nominees in the 2014 Capital Awards -Wellington’s premier hospitality awards. It was a pretty casual affair, with many of the nominees hard at work and therefore unable to front to receive their certificates. Still though, it was great seeing so many Wellingtonista favourites get recognition.

Voting in all these categories is open to all hospitality staff via the Capital Awards website. How they can tell if you work in hospitality or not, I don’t know. The Awards are on October 26, with tickets on sale on October 1. You know that hospitality staff party hard, so start preparing your liver and loins now.

After the jump, here’s the list of nominations.

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Spot That Pigeon!

by Tom on September 19, 2014 in Environment, Internet/Web, Outdoors

Take a break from watching polls and start watching birds with The Great Kererū Count. Forest & Bird have teamed up with local company Thundermaps to create an easy way for all of us to track these magnificent yet near-threatened native pigeons, using the Thundermaps smartphone apps or web application.

The great kereru count

Kererū are vital to the health of our forests, because they’re big enough to swallow and spread the seeds of tawa, miro, and other trees. They’re relatively common around the Western hills of Wellington, and in the Hutt Valley, but it would be great to see them spreading east across the city. Starting on Monday, for a two week period you’ll be able to contribute to our understanding of their distribution and habits by adding your observations and photos.

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Saturday is your last opportunity to make your voice heard on the future of…no, I’m not talking about the elections, but about something more specific to Wellington. In a very condensed consultation process, WCC is seeking your input on the proposed transformation of three blocks Victoria St, between Dixon and Abel Smith streets.

Victoria St - Volunteers Corner - artist's impression

And that would be where I would link to the official consultation documents, except there aren’t any. Officially, the consultation takes the form of “community open days” this week, and by open “days” they mean 2- to 4-hour sessions. The only remaining times to see the full-sized plans and talk to the project team are 5-7pm tonight, 12-2pm tomorrow, and 10am-2pm on Saturday. And then Saturday is the deadline for feedback. What’s more, the project information space is nowhere near Victoria St, but on the corner of Taranaki and Buckle St.

Why’s that? Because the Council is collaborating with the Memorial Park Alliance to design and construct the project, so they’re using the Park’s project office for the displays. The collaboration should provide expertise and resources to ensure that more gets done than if the Council did it on their own, but it also means that the time frames are ridiculously tight, apparently driven by arbitrary deadlines such as ends of financial years. While plans to improve Victoria St were signalled and consulted on as part of the wider Wellington 2040 and Central City Framework studies, and the project was announced and discussed last month (see articles on Stuff and Scoop), there’s now a much more detailed and definitive concept plan which the public get only a week to digest and discuss.

That’s if they get to see it. Apparently, there was not enough time to put the brochure on the WCC web site, and it would’ve been inappropriate to put it on the Memorial Park Alliance site, since it’s hosted by NZTA and this isn’t a NZTA project. So you have to go and find a hard copy. Luckily the Cycling Advocates’ Network have already posted a scanned version of the brochure, and since that’s the only way to see an actual plans, I’ve posted the plans as an image below. Because it’s 2014, and the right way to consult in a digital age is to make people schlep up to Buckle St or rely on scanned versions of a print brochure.

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More posts…

Voting Weather

by Tom September 16, 2014

There are signs that this election could have a good turnout. Advance voting is about twice what it was at the same stage in the last two elections, and there have been over 35,000 new enrolments since I posted about poor enrolment figures: nearly 1500 in Wellington Central alone! However, one thing that can still put […]

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Bring Back Kate – March on Monday

by Sue Tyler September 13, 2014

On average the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges receive one call for help every nine minutes. From July 2013 to June 2014 the Shakti national crisis line service exceeded 10,000 calls. Bring Back Kate is Women’s Refuge’s latest call to action on domestic violence in New Zealand. In 1893 Kate Shepherd and a band of […]

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Wellington candidates – we’ve heard from you

by Sue Tyler September 8, 2014

We put together fifteen questions we wanted answers for from anyone running for Parliament in the Wellington region. Four candidates got back to us before our deadline. Here’s what they told us. Wellington Central Paul Foster Bell’s answers James Shaw’s Answers Grant Robertson’s answers Ōhāriu Tane Woodley’s answers  

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Under the Pollsters’ Radar

by Tom September 7, 2014

At this stage of the election cycle we are drowning in polls. While each media outlet treats its own commissioned research as holy writ, they all have their own strengths and weaknesses, and it takes something like Danyl McLauchlan’s tracking poll charts to smooth out the noise and calibrate them against actual election results. Even with that, there’s a growing […]

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World Press Photo Exhibition

by Herbertimo September 6, 2014

A picture not only speaks a thousand words but has the ability to leave you speechless. Currently at the NZ Portrait Gallery in Shed 11 on the waterfront you can see a collection of photos that do exactly that. The photos that make up the World Press Photo Exhibition are selected from over 10,000 images […]

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What Jonny did next

by Joanna September 4, 2014

We have always been fans of anything the McKenzie brothers do, so we were super excited when we saw Jonny tweeting about a new waffle place. Sadly it turns out that not only is that waffle place in Auckland, but he’s not even running it. As it happens, Jonny McKenzie is bowing out of the publican […]

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