Approaching Auckland City hospital in extremis

Diary of the last ten hours


It’s barely past seven and already I am Taking to Twitter. 

Some mornings you just say it to the radio, like I just did to the Property Investors person who was using a cell phone wrapped in tinfoil and answering Corin's questions in some form of pidgin-business.

But other mornings, you get a rush of emotion that only Twitter can sate.

Finding the voice of all those Wellington golden mile businesses who feel that making their streets more pedestrian-friendly is wrong wrong wrong I channel their thinking, such as it is.

Karren asks, is this the most groundhog day deja vu ever? Actually those weren't the words, I was too busy Tweeting to write down what she said.  But we concur. It is the same every single time: 

  • Business owners oppose pedestrianisation

  • Happens anyway

  • Ends up being better than it was before

Old pal Martha - hi Martha! -  chimes in to remind us that life does not exist solely where the mic is being pointed.


In my mind I'm still on Manners St but also I’m thinking of Europe. Had a nice chat a couple of weeks ago with reader and media legend Alistair Thompson - Hi Al! - on the phone from France.

Brittany was full of charming birdsong. We talked of many things; of Boris, and fake news, and the state of the media, and he said I think of your newsletter as being about NZ politics and life in Auckland. I was a bit surprised. Yes there's a fair old bit of the seaside village in there, but I like to think I'm writing for and about about all Aotearoa. But I daresay if I looked back I would find a largeish weighting of Devonport, Waikato Invader and Fullers Ferries. I resolve to look around more often. Back to Wellington!

Of all the things I like doing in Wellington, walking from place to place and greeting people and going in and out of shops and cafes  is one of my most favourite things. My favourite thing of all used to be to take my hangover to the library and get a coffee and cheese scone then lie down somewhere and sleep for an hour.

But that doesn't happen anymore because I gave up drinking and also an earthquake closed that beautiful damn library.

I regret one of these things greatly and the other not at all, but anyway, Wellington is absolutely the perfect place to walk around; absolutely the place where you least feel the lack of a car.


In my mind I'm still absolutely positively on Boulcott St.

Going up and down Plimmer Steps is a thing I have been doing since 1978 and it has always felt to me to be some kind of barometer of quirkiest Wellington.

Note: it would be at least four years since I last did that, I have no idea if the place has gone all to bougie hell.

Hello great friend of this newsletter Tracy Neal! Tracy posted this Facebook find the other day. This is the Plimmer Steps I'm talking about 


In my mind I'm still thinking about the city that was once my home, and voting. I liked the hand when it lived in Christchurch, I like it even more in Wellington. It gets my vote. 


Here is a photo of what it can be like on Park Road outside Auckland hospital, and around the corner to Grafton and a lot of it has to do with the huge parking building that fills up and people queue to enter.

Today I offer not a proposal as such, but a parable.

Note: this involves scenes harking back to my recent adventures in hospital albeit with a minimum of gore or wincing

The first time I found myself needing to get back urgently to hospital I said, on the phone to the specialist’s office, that I thought I would catch the ferry and make my way up to the hospital, being accustomed to one of the easiest ways to get around our car-choked city.

She conveyed an unease about my reliance on public transport for this.

I realise now she probably meant ambulance but I took her to mean car and I said: well yes I guess I could drive, and it turns out that having got myself temporarily clear of clots I was indeed able to drive myself there.

But let me tell you, the half hour or so I spent sitting in stop-start traffic crawling up to the parking building only to find it full and then swiftly parking in the domain then limping to the ED was a close run thing as far as gore all over the place was concerned.

The next trip I again told her I thought I'd take the ferry and she was a bit more direct: I think you need an ambulance.

The parable here is; if you want to approach Auckland City hospital in extremis, you may not want to be driving a car slowly towards its parking building.

I don't propose a specific remedy here but I’m confident at least of this: part of the issue is people who work there need better options, and I don't doubt that better public transport and walking and cycling choices would improve accessibility to hospital without having to drive.

And no, none of this applies to people in extremis, but if you can relieve pressure elsewhere, that has to make things better, surely.

Also, here’s something excellent, recommended by Dr Kirsty Wild, about an e-bike feasibility trial run at Auckland City Hospital in 2018.


Guardian quote of the day about how we get around this place.

Images of driving and freedom are heavily promoted. It’s our second largest advertising sector.  We’re soaking in the idea that driving gives you control and freedom.


Reader Paul has a truly lovely piece of birdsong footage

I'm never quite sure in the bush whether I'm hearing Koromako/Bellbird but oh man I hear them now, aren't they  glorious? Let me point you now to the excellent podcast about predators and also recommend Peta Carey’s lovely book Tamatea Dusky which has some cool against-the-odds eradication success stories.

Dare to dream, Aotearoa.


To today’s big vaccine announcement. The nice lady from the cover of Time and Dr Saint Ashley are here to walk us through, and it sounds reassuring. We stand to all be vaccinated by the end of the year, and we’ll be getting there by age band and there's going to be a website for us to book our shot.

I guess if they get that wrong and it proves to be as big a headache as trying to book the Milford track this week or U2 or Adele, and if that happens then dismal Chris Bishop will wear his snarkiest, most supercilious smirk.

But let's not count those misshapen three-headed chickens before they hatch eh? So far, so good. 

Getting vaccinated, the PM says, gives us the greatest amount of freedom and opportunity. If we have as many people vaccinated, it reduces risk, and changes what we can do at the border. HOWEVER - she always brings a however - we will still need to have caution. 


Once you get rid of a limitation strategy it's hard to come back to it.


I don't think anyone is considering a dropping all controls at borders. 

All of that sounds right, bar that last one. I've got twenty bucks says Boris would do it given the slightest chance. 



Beloved daughter is on The Panel.  Listening to RNZ with pleasure.


For MTAF reader Mary-Margaret, some music I somehow didn’t get around to ever playing you. x