Parting Shot: Sometimes a snipe needs substance


Sniping from the sidelines is an age-old pastime in all parts of the world.

But Queenstowners seem particularly good at it.

‘The council’s bloody useless’ is a popular one. That new Skyline building’s going to be an eyesore. Fergburger’s footpath work is the whinge du jour.

You get the idea.

Sometimes it’s warranted, sometimes it’s not. But what gets my goat is the inability for those verbal hits to convert to something useful.

Warranted, it’s hard to dig yourself out of a deep hole. The council has saddled ratepayers with a huge cost overrun for the Fergburger footpath work. 

That money ain’t coming back.

Would a public protest bring that money back? No. Would it send the council a firm message? Absolutely. Is such a protest useful? That’s debatable.

In other cases there’s the potential for something useful to come from a sulky comment.

A long-time Queenstowner griped the other day that the Winter Festival “isn’t for locals” any more - that it’s now the domain of corporate Aucklanders.

Locals don’t go to events any more, he told me, and many of the good community events have been canned.

Well, when you’ve lived in a town for decades you’ll inevitably get event fatigue.

Seen 10 WinterFest opening parades? Unless you’ve got little kids or own a business you’re probably not going to watch many more.

Ticket prices have increased – but have they risen as much as the value of your house?

When the festival used to run on the sniff of coal dust from the Earnslaw’s boiler you could probably get a ball ticket for under $100 and spend the whole night in a room where you knew everyone’s name.

The ballroom crowd has changed just as Queenstown itself has changed. This town isn’t the sole
domain of long-time locals any more. People are pouring in every day, seeking to live the dream. 

And thank God for them. The pace of population growth means jobs like mine exist. Plus, it’s a regular injection of enthusiasm and excitement. It keeps this place fresh.

So what if WinterFest is more corporate? If the event didn’t grow there would be louder harping about its

If the community so loves events like Top Bloke and Mardis Gras on a Tuesday, or whatever else, then why not take them back? Gather some friends, start a petition, put some money together and get them going.

There, that’s WinterFest sorted.

The loudest grumbles these days appear to be about the council. Again, the gripes should be accompanied by some useful suggestions.

The mayor used our paper a few weeks ago to call for her replacement. Now there’s an opportunity - but I don’t see people putting their hands up to be elected.

It’s probably a bit early. But it sounds like there are plans afoot.

Twice in the last month I’ve been told smart people are having conversations. I just hope whoever they are don’t leave their run too late.

Their challenge is to rise above the moaning class and find the right mix of substance and optimism to take this place forward.

A smart mayoral hopeful might offer to reinstate Top Bloke.