Why Otaki?

Many people have asked me, “Why Otaki?”

Wellington is an expensive place to live. House prices. Rentals. Rates. There’s a reason everyone with a car motors out to the suburbs to do their weekend shopping. New World runs a monopoly in the CBD, charging a premium for supermarket basics. It’s a great city if you can afford it, but it’s also blatantly obvious that Lambton Quay is geared for the comfort and expectations of a very specific sector of society, and if you aren’t part of that sector, then life is a lot harsher than it should be.

Wellingtonians are often accused of being oblivious to the problems of the rest of New Zealand. Auckland is indifferent – it’s nothing personal, it just doesn’t need the rest of the country. Christchurch has serious problems of its own. Wellington has a cosy self-absorption coupled with vague contempt for people who are less educated or wealthy, or, horror of horrors – people who work with their hands and vote for John Key because he seems like a good bloke.

I didn’t deliberately chose to move 70km to a community with no bookshops or single women between the ages of 20 and 40. I saw a great-looking converted bach on Trade Me, and went for it. If I wish to stand on a staggeringly beautiful beach which extends to the horizon north and south, I just have to walk down the road. I can sit on my deck and listen to a dozen different types of native birds fighting. I can work at my drawing board in my lounge with my ranchslider open.

I can spend an entire day researching and drawing Jitterati by methodically reading Wellington online news – an activity which, thanks to low journalistic standards, widespread unashamed shenanigans, and the fact that I have a fucking analytical brain in my head, leaves me wrung-out and physically nauseous every week. For the sake of a four-panel cartoon.

Yes, there’s no-one to talk to, and that’s hard sometimes, but there’s no-one else to annoy or let down, and that’s what I need right now.

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