Well it is not long now. About 12 working days (as we say in the registry world). I completed my last trip to Wellington as a public servant last Thursday and Friday. This prompted a lot of reflection (a bit of a theme for the year).
I love Wellington.
It is the city of my birth, though I left there at the age of four when my father took up a position with the Ballin’s group in Christchurch. I was born in Wellington Hospital and went home to Harbour View Road in Northland. Later my parents were to build a house in Clouston Park Road, Upper Hutt.
I have lived in Wellington on two subsequent occasions, from 1989 – 1993 and from 1999 – 2002. I have been flying to and from our nation’s unique capital since 1988. I cannot count the number of landings and takeoffs I have had from Wellington airport, nor the number of times I have driven through the Mt Vic Tunnel or (my preference) “around the bays, driver”.
Katherine and I lived in a flat on The Terrace on our first tour there. We used to wander about the place in the weekends and climb Mt Vic or mountain bike around the place. Katherine worked in Newtown and I on Boulcott Street, so I got to sleep in and then climb 197 steps down to work. If I was feeling lazy I would catch the Cable Car up to the University and then walk down the hill to home. We would go to the movies at the Embassy or the Penthouse in Brooklyn, we’d go to Makara for a wind-blown coffee or just wander down to the waterfront. It was a great time.
Our second sortee included our first two daughters, Annie and Molly. Annie started school in Wellington. We lived on that occasion in Eastbourne. It was a magical place. The bush, the sea and the isolation all endeared us to it. It is a place one only goes to if they are a resident or in search of an ice cream on the weekend. During the week Katherine and the girls pottered around with school and playcentre activities, and in the weekends we would play on the beach or wander in search of our own ice creams. We could easily pop into the eclectic Petone or bland Lower Hutt if we needed. I fell in love with wood pigeons (kererū) in Eastbourne.
I love the openness of the people in Wellington. It is a city of imports. Many of the people you meet are there for work and seem more open to meeting new people I find. I have made some very dear friends over the years in Wellington.
It is certainly a more ‘politically correct’ city. Being a city concerned with politics. It is also (and obviously) the home of the public service. It never ceases to please me that you can rub shoulders with the wide range of politicians on the streets of Wellington.
I enjoy the wander down Lambton Quay at lunchtime, the sea of suits and people heading somewhere with purpose. I love the compactness of the CBD. The way one can walk from a hotel on The Terrace (the Novotel was my regular) down to Courtney Place for a meal or a movie.
Heaven only knows how many movies I’ve wandered to on my lonesome in Wellington, so much better than sitting in a ‘cold dark hotel room’ as Sarah MacLachlan would sing about.
I’ve wasted days of my life in meaningless meetings in Wellington meeting rooms. Time I’ll never get back. I’ve signed into a myriad of visitors books, drunk gallons of caffeine (some of New Zealand’s best are to be had in Wellington Cafes) and eaten a fair few curries at the Monsoon Poon.
I’ll be back there of course, but it’ll be different. It’ll always be a dearly loved city to me. I did a bit of growing old and even a bit of growing up there.
It’s up to Auckland next week to farewell my team there… but that’s another story.