OPINION: If you are a woman in your 20s or 30s and desperately seeking male company then saddle up your fastest camel honey and head for Christchurch.
Since the rebuild the place is raining available men - if you like the colour orange, more specifically fluorescent hi- vis orange or yellow, and fancy clod- hopping tradesmen who hail from another country.
Talk to any of the packs of chaps from England and Ireland roaming the city and they all say the same thing. The bachelors are desperate to meet a decent, or indecent, unhooked-up Kiwi sheila and are sick and tired of cracking a chat with a born and bred comely maiden only to find out that she's spoken for.
Complaints about intimidating spifflicated Irishmen and addled Anglais tradies creating merry havoc in the ale houses need a Middlemarch or gold rush solution. Back in the 1860s in the Otago gold rush when the men were recreationally unruly and kicking up bobsy-die, women were shipped in en masse to civilise and bring them to heel.
Around the turn of this century lonely rural blokes in the Far South were given the opportunity to meet gals at a singles' ball held in Middlemarch, Otago, and attended by up-for-it women from all over the country. It was a massive hit and is now an annual event. Though there has been a hi-vis ball or two back in early post-quake days, perhaps here is an opportunity for Air New Zealand in conjunction with Cera to advertise meet-a-tradie- themed bun rushes in which heavily discounted flights could be offered to single women and gay men wanting to meet unattached foreign lads in Christchurch.
If organising a ball was de trop then why not start up a specific bar called The Skilled Migrant so girls wanting a bit of romantic, no beating-around-the-bush action with a visitor to these shores, would know exactly where to find it.
If that was too cut and dried for the shy and retiring, perhaps then hold versions of the charming Gaelic ceilidh (or kaylee) where the ice can be broken by boisterous, breaking into a sweat country dances such as Strip the Willow or the Dashing White Sergeant.
Cantabrians need to remove the xenophobic broomstick from up their backsides and play host to the foreign influx to keep the lads here rather than see them flee the city when the rebuild is over.
If we build the social networks for the rebuilders it will be hard for them to leave and the best way of doing that is by bedding and wedding them.
Intermarriage or interbreeding, as it were, was the glue that forged New Zealand when Maori and Pakeha found each other erotically irresistible, and so it should continue with these newcomers.
I'm not suggesting that young Kiwi women should take one for team New Zealand and sacrifice their honour for the good of national growth, but if efforts aren't made to keep the internationals sated, then the noise from the men's quarters will be redolent with the unmistakable squeak of blow-up plastic dolls, and they don't come with a Made in New Zealand stamp.
At the risk of sounding like the dowager from Downton (Maggie Smith), I think village tea dances are in order to entertain the troops. Having said all this I realise the implications of having a city overly represented in tradesmen.
Intellectuals will be bullied and ghettoised and at the end of the rebuild tradies will all be competing for the same jobs and no-one will need their house doing up for many a moon.
The struggling University of Canterbury should immediately begin designing night-course degrees to offer to far-sighted tradesmen anticipating a secondary occupation when the last slap of paint has dried.
- The Dominion Post