Rebuild it in Dunedin!

Last updated 11:56 09/01/2012

Lee Vandervis. Douchebag.I have always been amused by the childish and slightly embarrassing competitiveness that exists between New Zealand's various towns and cities as expressed by its mayors and city councillors. You know the sort of thing, where any time there's the chance to be seen to have the advantage over another centre some local elected representative will wantonly laud it over the other.

A live interview with two or three competing mayors will inevitably contain more blustery "Well Town X produces far more jellybeans/Shortland Street actors/woodchopping champions than Town Y, which is why so many people are moving there" bragging than is strictly necessary and there never seems to be any shyness in trying to "poach" the drawcards of other towns. From V8 racing to flower shows, you can almost hear the sophomoric sing song cry of "neener neener" echoing from the halls of power.

And you know what? That's fine. I sadly expect nothing more from local body representatives than the robotic "everyone should move HERE because we are the BEST" response to every ill, from traffic congestion to library charges. Fair enough, it's your job to promote the hitherto unknown features and attractions of your town, I don't begrudge you that at all. You're the one who has to look like a dick. I mean, there's generally a reason that cheerleaders aren't middle-aged men in suit jackets. But don't let that stop you from telling everyone about how the annual beetroot festival gives your residents a much better quality of life than the poor souls who have to live in Auckland. Yeah, nice story, bro.

But I was surprised to find Dunedin City Councillor, Lee Vandervis, rather going beyond his bragging remit in an opinion piece that featured in The Press on Saturday.

Because Mr Vandervis goes further than simply extolling the virtues of his city. He's of the opinion that we should rebuild Christchurch...but in Dunedin. And yes, he IS serious.

There's a lot that's simply wrong in Mr Vandervis' piece from his lack of understanding of the seismology involved (large earthquakes are ALWAYS followed by a long sequence of aftershocks) to his willful misreading of the geotechnical advice. But certainly his habit of stating opinions as if they are facts and then providing no compelling evidence of their "factiness" is particularly bad. Our airport and port "will always present a potential failure". Really? Isn't potential failure inherent in...I dunno...EVERYTHING? What does that even mean? Christchurch people are suffering "a permanent epidemic of social shellshock". I have no idea what that is, let alone if I might be suffering from it. Wait, is being confused a symptom?

And possibly my favourite bit is where he says "when children become skilled at accurately predicting the Richter scale number of yet another quake, don't we owe it to them to bring them up somewhere secure?"

Won't someone please think of the children? As an argument this is a sure sign of someone who doesn't really have anything cogent to say on the matter.

Poorly written rhetoric aside, the other thing that really climbed up my a** and had a dance party about this was the fact that Lee Vandervis is just thinking of what's best for everyone. For the South Island. For the children. It's just a coincidence that it makes him sound like a greedy son arguing over who gets the good china while his mother lies recovering in a hospital bed from life-threatening surgery. Yes, recovering. Little hint, Lee, don't pick over the carcass until the patient's actually been pronounced. It's not classy.

That this piece was published in The Press, a Christchurch paper, is telling to me. It's almost as if Mr Vandervis is trying to win us over with is biblical allusions and badly expressed description of our "suffering" and convince us that Dunedin is indeed, the place to be. What he fails to realise is that we already know that Dunedin exists and that it doesn't have earthquakes...but we're still living in Christchurch. This isn't an accident, Lee. Most of New Zealand doesn't live in Dunedin...because they don't want to. Crazy, I know. Still, it's so very good of you to be so concerned about us, with no ulterior motive or agenda of your own at work. So kind.

I'm not going to bag Dunedin though. I like your council's progressive approach to providing free wifi, and your nice old buildings and, um, the penguins. But when Lee Vandervis says of Christchurch "who would want to move there?" I feel compelled to point out that people have been saying that about Dunedin for years. Sorry.

Certainly, if Lee Vandervis is an exemplar of the quality of city councillors that Dunedin has I feel no inclination to move there. Less inclination, in fact. Nice work, Lee. I think you may have inadvertently scuppered your chances of capitalising on an influx of Christchurch refugees because quite frankly your attitude sucks. I had thought that we Mainlanders were supposed to stick together and offer each other support but your "pull the plug and rebuild it in Dunedin" fantasy is both offensive and disappointing.

You love Dunedin. That's great. But I feel you may have fallen into the "moving to Dunedin is the solution to every problem" feedback loop that people in your position so easily revert to. But maybe you need to think bigger? Why stop at rebuilding Christchurch in Dunedin when there are so many other broken or dysfunctional things that could be rebuilt there? I took to the Twitterverse last night and brainstormed a whole lot of ideas. The following are ones I came up with but more can be found here.

Rebuild it in Dunedin:

Katy Perry and Russell Brand's marriage

The Bridge on The River Kwai

The Greek economy

Beyonce's vagina (update: Sorry, she had a C-section. Typical.)

The Sphinx's nose

Lindsay Lohan's career

Cher's facial structure

Scotland (No, wait. Nevermind...)

So I encourage you, dear reader, to come up with other things that can be rebuilt in Dunedin. My fellow blog stablemate, Chris Philpott was even so good as to make this handy dandy tool so that you can add a visual element to your "Rebuild it in Dunedin" suggestion, like this one I made.

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Post a comment
rayNelson   #1   12:03 pm Jan 09 2012

Dunedin is a hole! hahaha I'm suprised half that city is still standing with their early 1900s homes that people still live in. How about demolish Dunners and build something new and modern...what a depressing looking city

Dunedin girl   #2   12:07 pm Jan 09 2012

Please don't judge Dunedin on the opinion of that idiot Councillor! I honestly don't know who voted for him! But I don't know anyone who voted for John Key, so maybe I move in the wrong circles.

ChCh-Resident   #3   12:19 pm Jan 09 2012

Lee Vandervis is an absolute idiot. Have a bit of compassion for the people living in Chch & trying to deal with this shock. I refuse to leave chch as this is my home! You should never run away from problems, you should try deal with it as best as you can, you will be a better person. For the record, i lived in Dunedin for 1 year & came back to Chch because i absolutely hated it. Dunedin is filthy. I would rather live in Chch with aftershocks rattling me everyday than live in Dunedin at all. Lee Vandervis obviously doesn't know what hes talking about, he should go back to the burger bar career!

inferiority complex...   #4   12:23 pm Jan 09 2012

give it up dunedin councillors - youre just making yourself look bad

chch is on its way to be the next supercity ( and will be the most resilient city in nz

if anything we will be seeing more migration north - to thaw out if nothing else

and unlike dunedin weve got rid of all our dangerous buildings

stacey   #5   12:24 pm Jan 09 2012

What r u gana call it Christdin, Dunechurch or another name maybe.

TK   #6   12:25 pm Jan 09 2012

Rocks road, Nelson

Davo   #7   12:25 pm Jan 09 2012

I live in Christchurch, was born here, and i love the place. However, the statement by some Geonet scientists last week that the Earthquakes could go on for "decades" finally got me thinking about moving. I have already lost friends in February's quake, and would hate for it to happen again, but if we have to spend the next 20-30 years in fear, with constant aftershocks, maybe it is time to face the fact we shouldn't build it here? Just an idea. However, if that is the case, Dunedin is certainly not the answer. Some of us prefer slightly warmer climates. How about building the new Chch near Rolleston, Lincoln, Springston etc? Or even head inland? Or maybe near Hanmer Springs? Surely that is a better idea than that craphole down south!

Karlos   #8   12:26 pm Jan 09 2012

Hehe nice! Looking forward to reading some funny 'Rebuild it in Dunedin' comments.

I'm also amused by the childishness of the 'my town is better than your town' debates that are regularly seen on sites like Stuff. They're as bad as the iPhone vs Android and MAC vs PC arguments.

rumpelsnorcack   #9   12:28 pm Jan 09 2012

I am frankly useless at coming up with creative things that could be rebuilt in Dunedin, but did spend yesterday enjoying reading over the hashtag as it happened :)

As someone with a foot in both camps, sort of, I have felt free to comment at length to anyone who would listen about this plan. See, Dunedin is great - if you're a student. In my own little one-eyed way I'd go so far as to say it is the best place in the country to be a student. The whole city is set up just to cater to students and that's a fantastic thing. I lived there for much longer than I should have, stretching out my student years just to keep being part of it. However, once I stopped being a student I stopped being in love with Dunedin and started being in love with Christchurch (though, actually I was already having an affair with Christchurch while still living in Dunedin).

The thing that really annoys me about the opinion piece is that 'think of the children' thing. I have children, I have thought long and hard about their futures and whether or not to remain in this city. It's not something I did lightly and I resent this outsider coming along and suggesting that I'm a bad parent because I don't want to move them to Dunedin. But I think they will have a rich, engaged future here as they see the city resurrect around them (and it will resurrect - where this idea that the city is doomed comes from, I have no idea) and they have a community and support here - can we expect that in Dunedin? I suspect not if Vandervis is any example of the thought out there. We - me and my family and our business - are not a prize to be won; we are people and we like the place we're in even if it rocks a bit and is a bit broken in places

Phillip   #10   12:28 pm Jan 09 2012

Our airport is a potential failure? At least its in the same region as the city it serves, not a 50 minute / $100 taxi away. There's a reason Christchurch gets far more international visitors...

I also like the way he ignores the fact Dunedin is in an area with lots of fault lines. You know, like most of the country?

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