This is theft, it's not right

00:32, Nov 28 2013

I went to Auckland on the weekend. I love that place. Nice climate, great views, culturally diverse, nature close by and a genuine city.

I've never gotten the whole Auckland-hating that seems to be popular with some Cantabrians. I reckon if I didn't live in Christchurch, Auckland would be my next choice.

I went up to see my favourite band in the world - Neutral Milk Hotel - who were playing at the King's Arms, an authentic-as-hell little venue.

The band didn't come to Christchurch. There is nowhere for them to play.

They're a band that can fill a small venue. Say 500-1000 people; the sort of venue that the Civic or Ministry used to be.

I can't help but think that the loss of the Ministry Nightclub is a terrible injustice.


I never thought I'd be sticking up for this (former) Christchurch institution. But here I am.

You see Bruce who owned the Ministry was never particularly fond of me. I came into any potential relationship with a father he loathed and an employer he despised.

So I was pretty stuffed from the get-go.

He had a perfectly good venue. It was damaged, sure, and he had plans to repair it. But it was part of some Master Plan and was compulsorily acquired at less than Bruce felt it was worth.

Now he has no building in which to house his business. He can't put a venue back in the city because noise restrictions suggest nightclubs are unwanted.

He can't open a club in some industrial area because the Local Alcohol Plan has suggested that late licences will not be granted outside of the CBD.

Then, just to kick a guy when he's down, the Rebuild Gods are now seeking tenders for someone to develop the slick new bus exchange site to include hospitality.

I see that as stealing someone's business and building, knocking it down and leasing the new space to some credit-rich developer to put his own bars in there that will be much nicer, safer and… boring.

Where is the rage from the public? I think we have just become so used to being shafted that people just want to keep quiet and go about their business.

If you want tales of injustice you don't need to look far in this city.

It bloody stinks that someone can have their rights trampled over like that. I think there is something fundamentally wrong with that equation. By building a successful business over many years and making a go of it, Bruce has a right - an ethical right - to be allowed to continue.

They should have let him stay. They could have built their bus station around his building and there would have been nobody to disturb except for a few bus drivers sneaking a ciggie on a break.

But they came and took his land off him so that they could create some artificial perfect city.

Maybe an aging nightclub doesn't fit into slick flyover graphics.

But true vibrancy - about the most thrashed word when pitching bullshit in this city - means taking everything that comes with the city.

That's the nightclubs, the brothels, the homeless people and all the smells, sounds and sights that come with being in a real city.

If you want a sanitised city, go to the mall. I want a real city, full of the excitement that comes from something less contrived.

A place where small businesses all work to create colour that can't come from some horrible over-planned perfect notion of a city.

The Press