Auckland culture capital?

f3, Features — By on October 21, 2011 10:27 am

Law of the Jungle

Auckland is the cultural capital of New Zealand for one very obvious and simple reason – most of us live here. One man’s meat is another man’s poison, so the old adage goes, and in the vast cultural supermarket otherwise known as Auckland there’s a cut of beef for all of us. For too many generations we tugged our ruffian forelocks and bowed our venal and empty heads to the political capital, a tiny city that as time goes on diverges more and more from ours in almost every way – most particularly in numbers and level of cultural complacency. For Auckland culture to survive, being famously less state supported per capita, it must involve large numbers of people.

Put on an event in Auckland and good box office proves it a success. Put it on in Wellington and if ten people come it has the same review.

This year literally thousands flocked to our literary festivals, hundreds queued for the opening night shindig at the Art Gallery. We are shoulder to shoulder at the Lantern Festival, Pasifika and the Big Day and Gay Out(s). We cram the Civic for the Film Festival, theatre enjoys a youthful renaissance, kapa haka, whaikorero, rap and poetry performances proliferate and most of the nation’s film and television is produced here.

This argument is of course in very bad taste and quintessentially Auckland in the worst sense – brute law of the jungle, the power of numbers, crude mathematics. But it’s true that there are enough of us to create a critical mass from which emerges a vital, ever-changing, multi-faceted, energetic kulcha blessed with a spirit of generosity and largesse. Perhaps the most curious compliment the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival ever received was from a prominent Wellington author, one of at least 50 invited New Zealand writers.

“This is fantastic,” he said, wreathed in smiles, “It doesn’t feel like New Zealand.”

How extraordinary, and how very defining.

Stephanie Johnson completed a post-graduate diploma at The University of Auckland in 1982 and established and taught the Masters in Creative Writing course 2004-2006. She is a prize-winning author and is currently acting Artistic Director of the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.

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3 Comments

  1. Winton says:

    This is not pro-Auckland. This is the usual anti-Wellington crap….. If 1.5 million people choose to live in Auckland, 3 million choose not to.

  2. MillyS says:

    As an alumna of UoA and resident in Wgtn, I’m pretty disgusted at your apparent need to denigrate other parts of the country in order to make your publication relevant. This is part of why I unsubscribed from all UoA alumni communications. Well, that and the constant requests to fund the darling little buttons current study when they have interest free student loans.

  3. Winton says:

    A pot of yoghurt has more culture than 10 Aucklanders.