"This tongue-n-cheek attitude was really an attempt to counter my feelings of being an outsider, or worse, 'just another Wellingtonian'..."
SASHA BORISSENKO is a former Wellingtonian and writer. In Saturdays post, she shares why she still 'gets them feels' for Wellington. Sasha has been published in The Spinoff, The Wireless, Vice.com and many more.
When I first moved to Auckland a wonderful friend and I planned to pen a web series that would consist of us taking the piss out of Aucklanders. Namely, she'd swan into a gallery-opening sporting a ghost costume – you know, the white sheet thing with holes for eyes – and I would tell her she looked fabulous in the new "Miss Shmabb". We'd poke fun at all of the Auckland establishments by putting a "sh" before each title. Let's go to "Shoco's Cantina for a schnapps!" "Let's go for a day trip to Shaiheke, or better yet, let's walk up Mount Sheden while we smash a piece of cake from The Shaker." Mature, I know. The series was to be naturally called Auckland Shmauckland. Thing is, I'd love to sport Miss Crabb, dine at Coco's Cantina every night, and well, write a culture blog. But I think this tongue-n-cheek attitude was really an attempt to counter my feelings of being an outsider, or worse, "just another Wellingtonian". And yawn, this blog post is just another comparison between the two north island hubs.
The Career Opportunities
Having lived in Dunedin, Tauranga, Nelson, Denmark, Hungary, and of course Wellington, I decided to give Auckland a good crack to see what all the fuss was about in terms of career opportunities. Career has been great, she says with a sigh, but the burnout is perpetually imminent. "I'm neither an early bird, or a night owl, I'm some form of permanently exhausted pigeon," as they say. I think the rat race that's so prevalent in Auckland stems from the suburban sprawl – which is to say, people live in silos, they commute to work, they're exhausted by Friday, they get royally trashed during the two evenings of freedom each week before sheepishly trying to hide their two-day hangover on Monday. The rinse and repeat effect. It's this slight feeling of isolation, keeping up with the Jones's, and having to make a solid effort to meet friends that exacerbates the problem.
To be fair though, when I first moved to Wellington in 2013 and announced at the top of my lungs "ahoy! I'm extra and I'm here", that obnoxious behaviour wasn't welcomed in the harbour city with as much enthusiasm as I'd thought. Auckland, though: I remember barking on about having so few friends for a shoddy six months, and it really came down to a lack of time, energy, and serendipity. Sure, I'm working on wanting to be a "nature girl" - one that wears active wear during the weekends, and is into acai bowls and going to "yoga" on the regular in a bid to embrace "Auckland". But perhaps that's the real problem.
There's a real sense of community, authenticity and mobility in Wellington. You'll walk down Cuba Street and have to awkwardly wave to a regrettable love interest far too often sure, but Wellington's got your back. Auckland, with its Real Housewives, Ponsonby villas and raw food outlets comes a real stench of the haves and have-nots. Wellington, to me, is as close to socialism as New Zealand gets, while Auckland, my friends, is your neo-liberal, "individualist" counterpart. While poverty is ushered further and further from the main city centre in Auckland in favour of gentrification (ahoy Karangahape Road, ahoy Grey Lynn), poverty in Wellington smacks you in the face. In the case of increasing homelessness, the Wellington City Council shut down any notion to fine begging, while Auckland City Council sought help from the government to implement it.
Yes, I'm resorting to writing about the weather. Desperate and cliché, I know. But, while Aucklanders bicker about the wind in Wellington, the perpetual rain and humidity in Auckland is the pits. It took me a good six months for me to regulate my body temperature. Sweat moustache and all. I've always cycled as my means of transportation, largely due to my inability to drive. I've written off not one, not two, but three cars in my life, in fact. The first was a genuine mistake, mind you. It's very easy to mistake the accelerator for the break. It was 2004, I was 15, and I rammed into a bank at Tauranga's Pumpkin Planet. Embarrassment aside, thank God the fruit and vegetable establishment had a fork lift at the ready to dislodge my first car. But I digress. What I'm trying to say is that cycling is neither good in either Wellington or Auckland, but I'd indefinitely prefer death by being blown into the back of a bus, than death by skidding into a bus.
Which brings me to the transport possibilities in Wellington and Auckland. With the infrastructure paradigm dating back to the fifties, where life was all about the car, no city in New Zealand has nailed alternative options. And it's little surprise that my Uber bills take up far too big a portion of my paycheck, but that's obviously a result of not living in the city centre. And because of my love of avocados on toast, I'll be dead before I can afford a house. And good grief please don't get me started on those ridiculous articles on every news platform in New Zealand that bark on about 10-year-olds exercising enough frugality to purchase their first home in who cares.
Rent prices, however, are too ridiculous. I lived in a hilarious apartment in Wellington on Wakefield Street - a big lofty thing that was only $100 per week. The landlord, a property lawyer of all people, would often threaten to increase the rent, but he couldn't be bothered organising bond, let alone a tenancy agreement so of course, I'd hit the jackpot. Now I pay $250 per week. 'Nuff said.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to talk food. Visa Wellington on Plate is everything. I salivate at the thought of a reuben from Five Boroughs, the $10 burgers from Monterey, the Raman from the Raman Shop, the raw porridge from Seize, curly fries from Sweet Mothers Kitchen, or the kedgeree from Nikau. I'm pretentious as I sound, right now. But in Auckland, food other than dumplings on Dominion Road, is so 2016. It's all about raw, fewer calories and the thigh gap.
Okay okay, okay I need to calm down. While this post has a very bleak, depressing and totally unsubstantiated element to it, I'm actually in the throes of a two-day hangover so none of it can be taken at all seriously. Nevertheless, I'm pining for Wellington and all I want is a goddamn croquet monsieur from Loretta's but instead I've got to go to a spin class at Les Mills to sweat out the grump and check my privilege. #whoisshe
Thanks Sasha for taking the time to write this exclusive blog post! If you'd like to see more guest posts like this, leave a comment below!
All photos supplied and were used from the NZ Transport Agency Campaign Sasha participated in. Photos have been edited to remove watermark.