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Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2019 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



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Penny-wise, pound-foolish

10 December 2018

After a glorious weekend I think (hope) it's safe to say that summer has finally arrived in Godzone.

Okay, the 10-day forecast is promising more rain ahead but at least it will be warm rain and not the 5-degree mornings that plagued this part of the country for the past few weeks.

And with summer (around the Tokoroa Airfield) comes a goodly number of visitors, most of who originate from outside the country.

Already I've had a few overseas tourists drop in and say hello, including a guy from Chicago and a couple from the UK. Why do they come to Tokoroa from all points of the compass?

Well it's all because of my YouTube channels of course.

This is how it's been for many years now... each summer, people from across the ditch and across the world come to Tokoroa to see for themselves, things that have become icons of the RC flying world.

There is "the tower", Microsoft Hill (called that because it's a dead ringer for the default wallpaper in Windows XP), "the drain" and the many familiar faces that grace the screens of millions of TVs, smartphones, computers and other devices every year.

A few years ago I kept a visitors' book and over two short months it amassed over 120 entries from places as far away as Hungary, Denmark, Switzerland, the UK, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Argentina, Germany and most other countries on the face of the planet.

Whilst most of these people were avid model fliers, quite a few were not.

A couple of retired Canadian women arrived one day with a DJI drone and explained that they were on a world-trip, using their drone to document their travels. NZ was a "must see" destination, mainly because of the footage they'd seen on my YouTube channel.

The guy who came from Chicago just a couple of weeks ago wasn't a model flier at all but he loved the channel anyway and will be back again next year.

According to YouTube's stats, the "control tower" here at the Tokoroa airport has been seen tens of millions of times by people all over the world. It is the single most widely viewed part of the town by orders of magnitude.

Strangely however, the local council show not the least bit of interest in making sure that this tower is maintained in any way or even kept clean and respectable. In fact, the tower is now an utter disgrace -- most of its paint having been bleached away by the sun and the wood beneath starting to show signs of significant rot.

A bunch of us locals offered to put in all the time, effort and money required to refurbish this iconic structure -- but we were told that if anyone laid a finger on this precious piece of public property, they'd be charged with vandalism. Oh no, far better to let it rot away and act as a true icon of the atrophy that is wreaking havoc on the town's CBD and image.

Then, as if to make sure that nobody would *dare* to spend their own time and money restoring this precious asset, the council took away the access ladders needed to climb to the woodwork on top.

And now they've lost those sturdy bespoke metal ladders. The scrap value of the metal alone would be several hundred dollars and replacement cost would be measured in thousands of bucks.

When I asked where the ladders had gone they told be "we've lost them" but nobody seemed concerned that public property of such value had simply gone missing. I wonder if they would be as "couldn't care less" if someone short-paid their rates bill by the same amount -- because there's no difference... it's *all* public money.

So now, as they council pours *millions* of dollars into ill-conceived plans to attract visitors off SH1 into town, the one thing that is proven to attract good numbers of well-to-do visitors from around the world, continues to decay. And, of course, the plans to build an "iconic" new structure with "wow factor" in the front of town have been derailed.

When the new building was first announced I predicted that it would go "over-budget" but that prediction was poo-poo'd by councilors and the Mayor. So how odd is it that, having barely started, an $850K over-run was predicted by council staff? As a result of this, the building has been canceled and now all the town will be getting is traffic congestion (due to reducing SH1 to a single lane each way where it was previously two lanes) and a loss of 30 car-parks in the front of town. Oh yes, and they knocked down all the beautiful leafy shade-trees that provided a wonderful place to eat your lunch if making a "comfort stop" in the town.

Once again, the SWDC has proven that it couldn't organise a fart in a bean factory.

So, for another year, my efforts will deliver a steady stream of overseas and local tourists to the town, a stream that could be monetized to great benefit by local businesses... if only the council would actually recognise the value these people represent.

Sadly however, as is so often the case, my efforts and the results they produce will never be recognised by this council, not because they are insignificant, but because it's *me*. Forget that my predictions in respect to the folly of their ill-conceived multi-million-dollar projects were dead-on. Forget that our airfield is already a mecca for people from around the world who'd love to stay in local motels and spend money in local cafes and shops. Forget that the one structure that truly does represent Tokoroa around the world is left to rot and decay.

Remember only that we can't let Mr Simpson show us up by being right... again.

I feel so sorry for the people of this town, whose money is being wasted left, right and centre, while so many opportunities are ignored for nothing other than personal reasons by those who should be placing the interests of the community ahead of their own petty agendas.

Ah well, I'll just carry on carrying on... until the tower collapses for lack of maintenance perhaps :-)

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