Thousands of Aucklanders yesterday marched on to Queens Wharf, where thousands of soldiers left during both world wars, to mark the opening of the Red Gates on Anzac Day.This is an awful analogy: they did not march on Sunday; they meandered. I know. I was there. It was all very mediocre. You did not miss much.
It was the usual motley: some vintage cars, some fun activities for the kids, some promotional people, the Navy, food stalls. It is quite possible that the completed Party Central wharf will be as unexciting as this. After all, we are not very good at this sort of thing. We don't like to make a fuss. Besides, there are not that many of us.
Of course, Party Central Wharf will be landscaped - at a cost of $10 million or more, after the over-runs. Landscaping is one of the most expensive activities known to humankind, because landscape architects are creative people who failed to get into architecture school because they cannot do maths and now take their revenge on an uncaring public by planting unviable plants at great expense. The current trend in landscape architecture is for a sort of Pacific disaster look, where a few sticks, some stones and a bunch of scraggly plants are arranged in heaps that suggest the aftermath of a tsunami. The meanderers might have noticed the sorry state of the palms on Queen Street and might just wonder whether all this rus in urbe is worth the outlay. To paraphrase Mike Lee, the Queen's Wharf has become the people's liability.
But what about the sheds, you demand? Well yes, what about them? They are spacious, dry, sound, weather-tight; in short, they are capable of hosting parties. They are iconic as well, and thus optimal for tourism purposes. So they will be knocked down and those merry pranksters from Jasmax will build a curved pavilion, because that would be so so post post modern and rugby fans love a bit of architecture. Curves cost, so that will be another $10 million on the bill. Mr Murray McCully assures us that the pavilion is "most assuredly not a tent" and will be built from steel and glass, which is assuring. The sheds have lasted for 98 years; the pavilion is designed to survive for six weeks. The Historic Buildings Trust has given up without a fight, but is looking forward to working with the landscapers and the architects to determine how much of the rail lines and moorings can be retained. The phrase "as useful as a one-legged man at an arse-kicking party" springs to mind, once again.
Oh gawd this is awful. This ghastly, stupid, expensive whim of an airhead Prime Minister and an egoist ARC chairman shuffles on, scooping up the people's money and becoming more expensive with each reduction. Eventually we will end up with a $50 million ticket booth. The landscape architects will sell us a load of tosh, filled with native plants and clumsy symbolism, when what we really need on the waterfront is some public space - you know, the sort of place where you might throw a ball around.
Airhead, from Maidstone: