Inspired by the extensive and well deserved 2015 LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards documented in the August issue of this magazine, I thought I’d take the opportunity to present a few awards of my own, writes Jeremy Elwood.
So here are the inaugural Jeremy Elwood NZ (JENZ) Quirkiness Awards. These celebrate the slightly off-centre parts of New Zealand that I’ve had the opportunity to visit during my many travels around the place.
These are the bits that add a certain character to an area for locals and visitors alike. They may not be the first things you think of when picturing the nooks and crannies of our country – although I’m sure one or two of them are – but they’re some of my favourites.
The Octagon in Dunedin
Yes, I grew up there so there may be some local bias but it’s just a great heart to a city, providing an open area, good dining and drinking, and the spectacular pairing of the Dunedin Town Hall and St Paul’s Cathedral for tourists. Plus it’s a simple yet effective cruising strip for local bogans and provides a conveniently-sized statue for drunk students to put traffic cones on most weekends.
The Basin Reserve in Wellington
Worth a visit on a windy day during cricket season if just to watch the groundstaff try to put the covers on without getting dragged out to the airport.
The main street of Gore
Sure, a lot of our towns have an iconic statue and Paeroa, Ohakune, Raikaia and co can feel slightly miffed at missing out on this tightly-contested category. But come on, you’ve only got one main statue. Gore has the Giant Trout, the Oversized Romney, Sgt Dan at the Creamoata factory and the “Hands of Fame” tribute to the Golden Guitars. So it’s a hands-down win, pun intended.
The lone remaining, yet still lit, DEKA sign in Huntly.
Park-a-bull. Relieve-a-bull. Const-a-bull. Okay, once you see just how many of these there are, it starts to get a bit Insuffer-a-bull but I still find it quite Adore-a-Bull.
Waihola’s anti-speeding road sign, “Waihola – No Hospital, No Doctor. One Cemetery.”
BEST “ONLY IN NEW ZEALAND” ATTRACTION
I can’t even really explain this one, except to say next time you’re in Napier, go. Whilst our trans-Tasman neighbours still protect and adore the possum, we have a shop / exhibition / whatever the hell it is which celebrates eradicating them by any means necessary.
Owlcatraz in Shannon. They’re just a tad more protective of their namesakes than the winner here.
BEST “DOESN’T EXIST IN NEW ZEALAND YET BUT IT SHOULD” ATTRACTION
The Tim Shadbolt Theatre, Invercargill
I can picture this becoming like the USA’s Branson, Missouri, where the country stars of yesteryear opened their own namesake theatres and performed in them for the rest of their careers.
Highly Hoped For
The Topp Twins opening a competing theatre and casino down the road and starting the gold rush to redefine Invercargill as the entertainment capital of the country.
So that’s it for this year. Next time you’re passing through any of these spots, take a moment and stop. You will be amazed. Or at least amused. Congratulations to all the winners of these and, more importantly, the actual LGNZ awards presented last month.
This article was first published in the September 2015 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.