Waikato vs Southland

In an effort to get 500 North Islanders down to Invercargill to live and work, a supplement advertising the wonders of Southland was inserted into every North Island newspaper on October 31.

The Waikato Times got really excited and took up half the front page of that day’s edition with articles and analysis of the promotion.

Part of that included a list of five reasons to stay in Hamilton. It seemed like something hastily written (“Quick – what’s stuff that’s good about the Waikato and what sucks about Southland?”). So let’s take a closer look at those five reasons.

1. “Gore”

Gore is New Zealand’s country music capital. Every year it hosts New Zealand’s Country Music Festival. There is a giant statue of a trout in Gore. This is nature’s way of telling us to stay away.

2. “Winter fog. Mmmm.”

I think they are referring to the winter fog in Hamilton, because as far as I know Southland isn’t particularly foggy. Ok, it is pretty choice seeing the Waikato River enshrouded in fog on a winter’s morning, but have you ever driven in really thick fog? That sucks. Fog isn’t a reason to stay or go.

3. “Cellphone coverage, TV3, Mediterranean food and decent cappucino [sic]”

Hamilton and surrounding populated areas have good Vodafone and Telecom coverage, but there are sparsely populated rural areas that don’t. Invercargill and surrounding populated areas have good Vodafone and Telecom coverage, but there are sparsely populated rural areas that don’t.

As for including TV3 on that list, I phoned TV3/TV4 and spoke to a fellow in Engineering. He said that both TV3 and TV4 were available in Invercargill, with two transmission places. It might require an external aerial, but there shouldn’t be any reason why both signals couldn’t be picked up.

So it’s a bad thing that Southland has an apparent lack of restaurants serving “Mediterranean” style food? Look, it’s not like Hamilton has a large Italian or Greek community and an abundance of restaurants with Mediterranean cuisine. There’s a handful of places with risotto on the menu. There’s some really good places with non-Mediterranean food, and a whole bunch of mediocre places. Invercargill is probably the same, and if you really crave Mediterranean food, there’s always the supermarket.

Fact: there are cafes and places in Invercargill that have espresso machines and that make cappuccino. Whether or an Invercargill cappuccino is “decent” or not, is a matter of personal taste. Talk of “decent” coffee is usually the hallmark of an insecure hicktown trying to prove it’s got sophistication. And y’know, it doesn’t make Hammo look too sophisticated when the Waikato Times can’t even spell cappuccino properly.

4. “You might end up talking funny.”

But here the Times gets it dead on. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that people who speak with the “Southland R” sound like pirates. Most New Zealanders drop the r sound if it’s at the end of a word, Southlanders don’t. For example, I would pronounce the month of my birth as “Decembuh”. A Southlander would pronounce it “Decemburr” – just like a pirate! Har har!

5. “Freedom Air”

Air New Zealand’s budget airline offers cheap flights from Hamilton to Sydney, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Melbourne, which is very convenient. Such a service does not exist in Invercargill, but Freedom does have flights from Dunedin to Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, which is not so convenient.

There are some good reasons in both lists, but there are some dumb reasons too. The Waikato is, like Southland, an area that skilled young people often leave for more exciting places. So I can’t help getting the feeling that the “ha ha Southland” vibe of the Waikato Times is all too much the pot calling the kettle black.

Disclaimer: I ♥ the Waikato Times.

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