Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Being The Change

Today is 172 years since Auckland was "founded", and Saturday 29th is the start of our heritage festival. I've only done a quick flick through the booklet, yet already have filled up our weekends (have a look at the programme here); highlights include a Buster Keaton film accompanied by the legendary Wurlitzer at the Hollywood Cinema in my old neighbourhood of Avondale, a presentation of archival footage of the design, development and construction of buildings in Auckland like my beloved Civic (I say "my" literally; it belongs to all of the people of Auckland), and an exhibition at the Maritime Museum called 'The Immigrants' which I hope will include information about the Matua, on which my mother came to Auckland in the 1950s. The festival is an awesome chance to learn more about our beautiful city, and to get behind the closed doors of some gorgeous buildings, and most of it is free! (Well, paid for with our rates and local fines; we just got a $40 fine for parking in the city, so some of this is on us, and you couldn't be more welcome. Although we'd rather not have the fine.)

As excited as I am about these events though, my complaint about the festival is a shortage of social history in the programme. Recently my Dad told me to look up a woman named Betty Wark, who spent most of her life taking care of children; street-kids, foster-kids, and any other kids who needed help. I googled her, and only came up with her obituary, and a mention in Father Terry Dibble's. These two people did amazing things for people who are forgotten by most, and I'd love to attend an event where I could learn more about them, and visit the places where they worked, and see their legacies. So it's occurred to me that if that's what I want in the festival, then it's up to me to provide it. Obviously it's too late to become an official part of this year's programme, but I'm still going to research these people and then I can tell you about them, (and then maybe next year I could have my own walk!). I love old buildings, but I value people most, and I think people who effect positive change are infinitely more worth remembering than people who just came to a country (and wreaked havoc; Governor Grey, I'm looking at you and your stupid grave that gets its own stupid walk). Grey et al are part of our city's history but we don't have to remember them; we can choose whom to honour with memory. I'd like to honour Betty, and Father Terry, and other people who tried to make Auckland a wonderful place to live for everyone. I wasn't expecting to end up here, but here we are. Welcome to my social heritage festival, friends! (Slogan to come.)

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