A Mount Maunganui local wants to set the record straight about Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.
Max Christoffersen believes the two places are completely different, and would be like comparing Hastings and Napier.
Read what he has to say below.
“You'll never be a Mountie Max…”
The stinging comment was made to make a point.
“You can live here as long as you like, but you weren't born here, so you will always be an outsider...”
That was 1985. It was a discussion made partly in jest, partly in truth. The local making the claim of ownership of his patch was right. I'll never be a Mountie, but I am a local. I live here.
And while I can't lay claim to having my birth roots in the soil of Mount Maunganui, I can claim to have strong loyalties to this patch of sand and surf.
Those fighting words that came from the past have stayed with me for life.
And they came to mind as national media rolled out the news Tauranga was now New Zealand's least affordable city for housing, beating Auckland, Queenstown, Hamilton and Napier and even getting close to Sydney.
The wannabe Mountie in me, the local in me, had one question to ask; Are you talking about Tauranga or are you talking about the Mount?
Because they are not the same place.
I've had enough of national media and others rolling Mount Maunganui and Tauranga into one amorphous geographic locale.
Anyone with any long-term experience of Mount Maunganui culture knows that Tauranga is ‘somewhere else'. It's over there. Tauranga is a mere blip on the inland horizon that tourists pass through to get to the Mount.
The only thing Mounties have in common with Tauranga is a bridge and that frankly, is too close for comfort. We are a beach town and you, Tauranga, are inland.
Never forget it. You can be Tauranga as long as you like, but you will never be Mount Maunganui.
So when the news broke that Tauranga is the least affordable city in the country, are we talking Greerton or Arataki or Marine Parade?
Are national media talking about Tauranga or Mount Maunganui? I imagine the same debate takes place with Napier and Hastings. Close, but not the same.
So as the news travelled far and wide, with TV reports telling the country that Tauranga was the most expensive place in the country, what footage was put alongside the story on TV and print? Mount Maunganui – Mauao.
Why wasn't there a shot of an empty Devonport Road? Or maybe a shot of the closed shop-fronts and business buildings across the city? Or perhaps a photo of Cameron Road traffic stuffed full of Aucklanders escaping the big city rat race and bringing it all here?
The news it seemed of Tauranga (or is it the Mount's) rising property prices provided the media platform for journalists across the country to demonstrate their profound ignorance of our patch and the geography and culture differences between the two towns.
The same thing happened with Rena where evidently the ship ran aground in downtown Tauranga and not out to sea with debris coming ashore on the beaches of Mount Maunganui, Papamoa, Motiti and Waihi Beach. Rena was a Tauranga City disaster evidently.
As the news went further of Tauranga's inaffordability, media personality Mike Hosking rolled out yet more dubious media sentiments saying rising prices for housing in ‘Tauranga' is a good thing, as it means things are prosperous. It means things are on the up. It means progress in the regions.
It means nothing of the sort.
“Ask Peter Williams...the newsreader.” Hosking said. He commutes.”
I don't have to. I know what the nightmare commute in and out of Tauranga is like. I've lived it. It adds hours of drive time to people's lives. It's time wasted in cars rather than being productive.
Typically with most national pundits like Hosking they leverage a region's success off the superficial appearance of increasing revenue/capital values but never include or discuss the costs.
It is a myth that house prices are indicative of economic good times. There are always hidden costs to progress, often much of it picked up by ratepayers or taxpayers to mask the reality of the tough times in retail or the hidden lower socio-economic suburbs that no one talks about.
The same dubious logic is also true of the increasing drive for more tourists and our tertiary institutes and universities, where international students bring in big money but have high hidden social and academic costs that are never discussed or acknowledged, until local students can't find part-time work or accommodation.
And tourists, please no more tourists who are clogging our roads while Wellington demands taxpayers fork out more for infrastructure upgrades to make our freedom camping sites more pleasant for foreigners to leave their shit behind (literally).
It may be a good thing for locals to have increasing property values, but it's a false economy.
Shift from one house to the next and those prices have gone up too. The equity remains the same unless of course you've bought a local leaky home built fast to accommodate the growth of the Bay's population spurt 15 years ago.
What all this means is that more people are coming to Tauranga/Mount Maunganui/Papamoa. We are part of the problem.
Local councils have bought the mantra that development is good for us all and the ongoing subdividing of land and new developments brings benefits. The future is bringing more people into the Tauranga Mount Maunganui is good for us all. Yeah right.
Tell that myth to me again the next time I'm stuck on Hewlett's Road going nowhere for 30 minutes.
NOTE for tourist journalists: Hewletts Road is in Mount Maunganui, not Tauranga.
Please note, this is an opinion piece from Max who has lived in area for a number of years.