I had a visitor from Auckland (remember the old North and South photos with a “visitor from Hawkes Bay”? Well this one was from Auckland) at our place over the weekend and they had just visited Turanga. They were waxing lyrical about how fabulous our Central Library is. They said they would like to come down for three weeks, and visit Turanga every day.
To see ourselves as others see us, as Robbie Burns once wrote, is a very healthy process. When I reflect on how our library staff and planners went about thinking through what this building could, and should, be like it was an exercise is community empowerment, and taking back control. We have ended up with something which was exactly what this City needed; and it raised the bar of delivery to our community. The team which ensured that this building was designed, and then delivered, as planned. I bet there are stories about what went wrong and how things were sorted out which we have not heard about! The library staff who had been spread all around the City providing sustenance to us in temporary settings, as we struggled with our broken lives, which they were no doubt also experiencing personally as well.
Everything came together and we had a grand opening. People streamed in through the doors and haven’t stopped since. It was exactly what we needed. It was an appropriate building for this City.
When I think about the legislation which is going through Parliament removing the Central Government control of this City I say “go for it, Megan”. We need to be able to go through the Turanga-type planning throughout this City our way. As we revive our commitment to the villages which make up this City, we will need to do things our way. It is impossible for us to get everything we want, but if we get an opportunity, we will be able to decide our own priorities.
Most of us have sat, like Lazarus at the end of the table, and watched people from Wellington decide what we needed. We have had well organised groups get in the right ears and lobby like mad and get structures imposed on us which are exactly what we didn’t need. Loud people, and groups, have pushed aside those of us who weren’t even asked what we thought was important. There’s still of few of their monuments to be built, or completed. The chance to challenge these is possibly past. But, as Nelson Mandela once said, we should forgive them but we should never forget. Especially when the cost of operating them comes home to each of us, individual ratepayers.
In the meantime, let us thank our City Council and their staff. Turanga shows what we are capable of, and lets’ build on that. Aucklanders are jealous of what we have. And we paid for it ourselves.