OPINION: Somewhere in our building is a framed front page produced 14 years ago.
On this front page one of the region's favourite sons, television weatherman and well-known aviator Jim Hickey, stands among many others at the base of our city's wind wand.
The page is interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly it is confirmation for many that despite its controversial conception and birth, Len Lye's magnificent kinetic mast was viewed back then and remains to this day a vital, magnetic icon for this city and region.
Just as importantly, maybe even more so, the large group is huddled enthusiastically around the sculpture to celebrate not just the ceremonial turning on of the light at its zenith but also the passing of one millennium and the beginning of another.
Intriguingly it's an image that remains as rare as a warm, clear Christmas Day: Taranaki's main centre celebrating a New Year in an organised way.
It seems an anomaly that a region so well known for its incredible events and festivals, which attract tens of thousands of people into the region, appears not to have the collective will or nous to celebrate the birth of the New Year.
In the leadup to Christmas there are any number of events to keep local visitors entertained and enthralled.
And on New Year's Day many of us head to Oakura for its now iconic beach carnival. That great event was saved by the wonderful effort of a handful of people who saw its value to the community and refused to let it die. They stepped in to keep it alive.
Surely a similar effort could be harnessed to create a responsible, organised and safe celebration of New Year's Eve in the city centre. One in which families could comfortably rub shoulders with partying revellers to see out the old and welcome in the new.
Perhaps understandably, local authorities may be a little wary of being seen to encourage over-consumption and merriment on a night that traditionally involves the raising of one too many glasses and drunken renditions of Auld Lang Syne.
And local bars also might be reluctant to support an event that could rival their own hospitality and impact on their healthy takings at this time of year.
But just as not everyone wants or needs to consume copious levels of alcohol to enjoy an evening, a good number would be keen to kick on and keep that good feeling going in one or several of the city's bars.
Maybe, with the right plan in place around risk management and security, Puke Ariki Landing could be the site for a truly worthy inner-city event that celebrates not only the New Year but also some of the city's greatest assets and attractions.
Or perhaps the Festival of Lights programme could be extended on the night of December 31 to include a Bowl of Brooklands concert ushering in the new.
Other centres do it, and they do it well. Given our track record, why can't we?
- © Fairfax NZ News
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