Yellow Peril presents the preliminary results of a small Sunday night text-survey of young Chinese people, regarding an idea recently floated by Paul Spoonley. Question: "do you want the City to build you a Chinatown?"
Sample: Chinese, aged 21-34, ranging from 4th Generation to ex-International Student. Two in Wellington, the rest Auckland. Includes myself.
CC: Who the fuck is this? Is this a joke? [maybe it wasn't CC after all]
RL: Um.. Yes but there are already little ones everywhere!
DT: Wouldn't that make it a beta country. :-)
THW: Yes [NB: poor THW lives in Wellington, no wonder she wants one.]
XTL: Can I say I don't care?
DS: If they did I could start a nice extortion racket... In short. No.
HHC: No way man. Congregation. Segregation. Why don't they build a maori town or arabic town?
TC: Nah.. just places where u can buy stuf from h[o]m[e] is enuf 4 me : ) anyhow, NZ & d chinese community isnt ready 4 a chinatown & its consequences I reckon :)
AK: No, cos I believe Auckland should move towards being an intercultural city :)
DC: I'm an objective reporter and therefore devoid of potentially polarising opinions, which translates roughly as ... dunno
KN: [another starving Wellingtonian] Nah, but it'd be nice if they built a nice noodlebar or hong kong style cafe. Damn that japanese noodlebar next to Britomart is nice.
KBC: Fuck yea, actually a project in the making. Choice Pagoda takes centre stage. With fortress and summer palace at the harbour. I am serious, gimme quality congee!
TMM: Only if it has cool robots.
Maybe if I'd asked ""Do you want Paul Spoonley to build you a Chinatown?" or "Do you want Tze Ming to build you a sci-fi Chinatown that has cool robots?" or "Is Auckland turning into one giant Chinatown?" (as KBC seems to have interpreted the question), they might have responded more positively across the board.
The Spooner (can I call him the Spooner?) is generally on target, and what he was really talking about in context was ensuring strong regional and city council support for the regional migrant settlement strategies. Right On. So on one hand let's not get too excited.
On the other hand ...WTF?? "The result is a multicultural muddle," says Spoonley of the years of civic inattention to planned ethnic precincts. Come on man. I love my organic "multicultural muddle." It works a lot better with cultural flow than it does with traffic.
Auckland is too far gone for discrete 'ethnic precinct' projects. Re-imagining the city entire as architecturally Asia-Pacifican is well underway, be it George Chang's Parallel Skyways at the recent InvAsian show, or the ongoing student-driven Cultural Signals project of the (seriously Asianised) Architecture School of Auckland University. The expansive visions coming from this generation has left the old community ghetto-style approach in the dust.
You could say that everywhere we go, we always take the Chinatown with us. Auckland is a city of mini-Chinatowns. Downtown is Chinatown. Balmoral is Chinatown. Mt Albert is Chinatown. Howick is Chinatown. Northcote is Chinatown. Avondale is Chinatown.
So really, where would you even put another Chinatown? I vote Roskill. Dammit, something needs to go in Three Kings Mall...