Near Collapse of New Zealand's Capital City
Blog and photo essay by Dave McArthur 4 October 2007
Let Wellington, Capital City of New Zealand, be a warning lesson to all. Learn from our example, treasure your city’s utility grids and its electrical potential so, unlike us, you can thrive in the Post Cheap Oil-Gas Age.
This is a case study of what not do, of how to destroy your city’s potential, of how to become a hapless plaything in the play of investment bankers, of how to become unsustainable.
Wellington is a much blessed city. It enjoys the most beautiful air on our planet as it has been cleansed and refreshed by the great Southern oceans of the Roaring Forties.
It has one of the finest natural harbours in the world. Forests cover many of the hills surrounding it. Its typography means it is really a series of linked villages and it has a compact Central Business District with most cultural centres being within walking distance of each other.
As you can see from this image shows it is served by more distant dormitory suburbs in the hinterland. These are connected to the city by electric rail. The proximity of its international airport can clearly be seen. It has all the educational, cultural and economic advantages of being a nation’s capital city. It should have a vibrant and exciting future in front of it. And instead it is heading for broke.
This brief photo essay of our collapsing utility poles tells the story of a failure of democracy, of greed and corruption, of abuse of our electrical and carbon potential…the full story would take a book and the skills of a team of top investigative journalists to reveal the full sordid details of what has happened. Unfortunately such a team does not exist in New Zealand, less still in its Capital City.
So at present you will have to make do with the insights of a mere pawn in the Wellington City wheeling and dealings, the word of a meter reader that the Council deemed worthless and redundant. In other words this is my memory of a few experiences as a citizen of this city. Note: all these photos are of poles within 200 meters of my home. There are thousands more across the city now.
I am going to attempt to encapsulate those insights into brief commentaries that accompany each of these photos. My hope is you will appreciate with passion the fantastic value you have in owning and controlling your local wiring utility network. My dream is that you learn from the Wellington example so you live in a thriving city in the Great Solar-Electric Era that is coming for those who retain control of their local resources.
I am particularly mindful that New Zealand does not have a strong free media. Our major daily broadsheets are owned by large overseas based corporations whose vested interests rest with their main merchant shareholders, not New Zealand communities. In Wellington the defunct Dominion and Evening Post (now the Dominion Post) were at the forefront in promoting the transfer of control of our all our grids into the hands of overseas merchant bankers. They suppressed vital information and their version of history reflects those of the bankers.
It is critical that the Auckland community learn from the Wellington experience and not allow the New Zealand Herald, owned by energy magnate, Sir Anthony O’Reilly, be successful in its current campaign to destroy the Auckland Energy Community Trust with its majority holdings in Vector Ltd.
Meanwhile Wellington citizens sit helpless and watch as control of the city is transferred yet again to another group of overseas bankers – possibly Babcock and Brown
I have dedicated each pole photographed to individuals and to communities. Each pole is a reminder of past deeds and present, sorry deeds and great. Each failing pole is a reminder of what happens when communities become undemocratic and greed prevails. Cities collapse in quagmires of debt and poverty.