Hundreds of job vacancies across various industries in Clutha. House prices a fraction of what they are elsewhere. What could possibly be wrong? Why aren’t people uprooting and getting up there? Clutha District mayor Bryan Cadogan reckons the Catlins might well act as something of an irresistible magnet pulling you to a place where you can be the mother or father you always wanted to be. You savouring that 1950’s nostalgia yet? On the downside, internet access and air travel are less than desirable. But hey, if we are nought beyond mere cogs in an economic contraption, and if we aspire to be ‘rationally optimising economic units’, then, in spite of the planes and internet, Clutha ought to be the latest ‘go to’ place.
But we aren’t merely walking and talking economic units, and I don’t want to sound too harsh, but I wouldn’t live in Clutha. Not if you paid me to.
Let me put it this way. I had a recent visit from a person hailing from the Czech Republic. They waxed lyrical on how lovely New Zealand is. They shared that they had an urge to move here permanently, until… well, here’s the nub of it. New Zealand’s flora, fauna and landscapes are wonderful. But there’s nothing here. It’s one step – a fairly large one – to go from the rich cultural heritage of Europe to a major centre in new Zealand. It’s quite another to drop into what some would term the ‘black holes’ of the Clutha’s of this country.
Seriously. Who the fuck wants to live in a places where (a real example) rubber necking locals on the street and disapproving service workers mean that Buddhists can feel compelled to remove their robes and wear ‘normal’ clothes? That was Invercargill.
Who wants to live in a place where ‘normal’ is forcibly pushing ‘normal’ into the face of anyone who isn’t pushing ‘normal’ into the faces of others? Who wants to negotiate social norms that are bound by lines that time has consigned to a deep and distant obscurity for those who ever had horizons? I mean, it’s not as if the social expectations present in some of New Zealand’s small towns are quaint or in any way culturally interesting; they’re plain fucking nasty, narrow and backwards.
In fairness, I could make similar comments on any country’s small town mentality, right before observing that many people get the hell out as quickly as possible. Just think though – if we were all just economic pragmatists, then the Cluthas of the world would be humming… in a quietly content, machine like kind of a way.