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Jeremy Elwood shells out the year-end presents

Shelling out the presents

It’s that caring, sharing time of year, says Jeremy Elwood.

As we come to the end of the year, we first have to navigate that occasionally stressful time when families gather to celebrate, eat too much, drink far too much and somewhere in between courses remember to hand out the presents. This year I thought I’d get a head start on the Christmas shopping. That way I can avoid my usual last-minute rush in which I remember at 11.58pm on Christmas Eve that there are four extra relatives coming this year, the only thing open is the BP up the road, and Uncle Pete is allergic to roasted almonds.

So, in advance, here’s my own secret Santa list for 2015. These are the gifts I want to give to the unsung heroes of our cities and towns. You’re welcome. And remember, if you don’t like your present, you can always give it to someone else. After all, that’s what made Sonny Bill Williams popular again.

For Alice, the giant boring machine.

(I mean the mechanical one. “Alice” is not a pseudonym for whichever councillor in your area drones on and on about his or her personal bugbear at every meeting, regardless of the topic up for debate.) Great work on the Waterview connection. When it’s finished, people from West Auckland will be able to visit the rest of us again! I hear they’re getting hungry.

In recognition of your efforts, here’s an all-expenses-paid trip back to Germany, where after a well-deserved rest, we might ask you to tunnel through to Turkey to allow refugees to cross over safely without having to put up with the pettiness of Serbia and the like.

To Auckland’s berms.

A year ago, no one outside of the SuperCity even knew what you were. Now you’re a constant source of amusement to both non-Aucklanders, who can’t work out why we’re so desperate to garden but not mow you; and the average Aucklander who hasn’t seen a blade of grass near anything they can afford to buy since 2002.Here’s a packet of seeds and a trowel. Enjoy them while you still can.

To One Tree Hill.

Here’s not one, but an entire grove of trees so that you can, after all these years, reclaim your name. Well, eventually, when the rest of them die off and leave the last tree standing. It’ll be like a reality TV show but not nearly as tedious to watch.

Moving on to outside of Auckland; your gifts are in the mail. I promise.

For Hamilton’s water supply.

Congratulations! A whole year of fluoride and still no one has developed superpowers, grown an extra nose or hallucinated that they were Napoleon. I’ve sent you a subscription to Investigate magazine so you can pick another conspiracy theory to keep your detractors busy.

To Queenstown airport.

You’re adding lights and runway improvements so that flights can land in the dark! As if your region didn’t have enough white-knuckle thrill rides already. Well done, here’s a prescription for valium.

To Wellington airport.

Have a word to Queenstown about runways. They seem to know what they’re doing. In the meantime, here’s a free ticket to Auckland so you can transfer onto an international flight.

And finally, to Dunedin.

Not for any specific reason, I just didn’t want you to miss out on the big party, again.

This article was first published in the December 2015 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.

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