Sunday, January 8, 2012

The disappearing suburb and a child named Mighty

It was a rundown community for the poor and disadvantaged. It was the kind of place where children were given names like Storm or Freedom or Mighty.
Children played outside until long after dark. Yards were decorated with broken down cars, rusty prams, and old appliances too big to go in the council rubbish. It was home to gangs and drug dealers and the disadvantaged.
Now the whole neighbourhood of about 80 units has been disbanded.
The two story weather board units were built seventy years ago to help the families of soldiers returning from war. For the last few years, residents have been complaining about rats and mould. It was the seedy side of Wellington, akin to Harlem or maybe Brixton.

People have been moved into other communities, and each week another building is torn down into a huge pile of rubble that lingers for a few days, and then is picked up and taken away, leaving the area a blank canvas for new developments.

It was never a popular community, except with those who could afford nothing else, or those that were particularly proud of living in “grass roots” New Zealand. It was a community people fell into and sometimes never made it out of.

Some families lived there for over thirty years, propped up by government benefits, and subsidised housing costs. Many had grown used to be being supported in their government assisted lifestyle and were understandably upset about the change.

About twenty residents set up a tent city and stayed onsite in protest. It lasted only a few weeks. I suspect there wasn’t enough interest by the media or sympathy from the community.

Bit by bit the homes and the memories are being removed. Change is always hard, but it brings to mind the saying “Change is inevitable, misery is optional.”

I hope these families find a reason to embrace the move and welcome new opportunities. This is New Zealand and one of the most beautiful countries on earth.

I hope children like Mighty and his sibling Kingdezzy, (yes, these are real names) get a chance to live in a more beautiful and prosperous part of it.


Red Nomad OZ said...

It's hard to imagine such despair in beautiful New Zealand - a sad reminder that as tourists, we don't necessarily get the full story.

Have a great day!

Nikki said...

Thanks Red. So true.
This is not my normal sort of happy post, but I do feel sorry for the children. Some of my nephews grew up here and they have a very different attitude to life. A combination of bravado and low expectations. So sad.