OPINION: Last weekend I wrote about the pleasant surprise and what we as Hamiltonians could learn from that provincial city of New Plymouth and it was pointed out by one commentator that even though New Plymouth was pretty cool, it's no Hamilton and that's why the population is smaller there than here.
So I decided to explore further afield and spent a Day in Wellington on the launch of the New Zealand Festival - a city with a lot more population than us, geographically more unstable and the seat of the most untrusted people in New Zealand - our politicians.
It's a city built knowing that one day it will be hit by a major quake. It celebrates the fact that half its CBD was underwater when the country was founded and is home of some major economic wastage thanks to a Government machine filled with too many middle managers. And yet it's CBD is always bustling, it's a creative hub for film makers and artists, it houses some of the nations most important Taonga and people are drawn to it like moths to a flame.
And do you know what I heard more often here than anywhere else in New Zealand over the past week?
"You should move here"
Wellingtonians are proud of their city and the opportunities it offers after all and while I was there I made an effort to meet a number of different people, ranging from Government employees lamenting how their department may need an upgrade in computers but was still full of hard working locals, through to a concert pianist who volunteers his time at an exclusive club on Courteny Place - and they all suggested that the best way to experience Wellington was to move there.
As an idea it has a certain charm - give up my life in Hamilton, my boring day job, my responsibilities and family to move to a city that no one can call dull and boring or uncreative. It's a place that defines vibrancy and supports creativity like no other. It's our version of the Bohemian Paris, Baz Lurhman showed the world in Moulin Rouge - It even has a wind mill - because you'd be stupid to not harness that wind for power.
But I can't do it. I can't pack up everything on a whim and move to a city that I know would be a hell of a lot better for me, certainly as a film maker.
Because it would mean leaving a city where my family call home. For all my touring and praise of other places of late, it's easy to lose sight that Hamilton is still the best place in New Zealand to raise a family.
It's got some brilliant family friendly amenities, like the park at the lake or Parana park - areas that are made for kids and families to have fun together. Running from the warm pool inside, over the horrible stones to the cold pool outside at Te Rapa Waterworld is a sensation I firmly believe every child should experience once - and it's uniquely ours, and being able to head to somewhere like
Garden Place to watch an outdoor film is a great family friendly way to spend an evening.
For all its failings, Hamilton is pretty family friendly - sure we have our problems - like any City.
So while I've been very tempted in the past week to pack up and move to far away places like New Plymouth and Wellington - I know that, in the short term at least, that won't be happening. But I also feel that staying here and not making this an even better place for my family would make my choice to stay here for them rather pointless. It's one of the reasons why I'm glad I've been able to see how other places do what they do well - it can help us see what we can do better. We suffer a lot as a city with the idea that others may be doing something better and have this odd dual identity where we've got a sort of cultural cringe and fierce pride of our home at the same time - a middle child syndrome almost but for cities.
It's time to stop this Hamiltonians - it's time to embrace ourselves instead of snapping at others and invite them to move here.
Come see why so many people call Hamilton Home!