In keeping with Auckland's reputation as Godzone's multicultural heartland, the flavour of the minute this past weekend was "Japanese". We had walked past an Italian restaurant called Tonys (seriously guys, a less stupid name might be appropriate), and ended up eating at what turned out to be a mediocre place a few doors down on High Street.
Thing is, we should have gone into Tonys. There were heaps of white people in there, and that's always a good indication that the food must be OK, yes? Not to complain mind you, I enjoyed the Katsu Don but just found it a little ordinary.
We had driven up to Auckland on Friday afternoon and attended a wedding out in Riverhead. A grand affair I must say. Guys, a tip, do not let your brother be in charge of the music the Bride appears to. When you're supposed to get a little 'Come Away with Me' by Norah Jones there's every chance you'll end up with 'the Darth Vader music' (the Imperial March for all those nerds out there).
Laugh? Yes, laughed my arse off.
After the formal part of the wedding we stuck around for the free feed at the reception (some habits die hard), and subsequently made our way into the city. We were staying not far from Aotea Square and wandered down to Queen Street to see what's shaking. The Asian theme to the night started with the actually rather lame decorations for Chinese New Year. Nice red lanterns and all, but... lame.
From there we wandered through the crowds of Asian people the white heartland seems to be so freaked out about, and bought tickets to go see 'Memoirs of a Geisha'. Again, lame. Save your money for the DVD people. Nice film but the costuming just didn't really carry it, and your time would be better spent watching the complete lack of dramatic tension and character development on your big screen TV.
I'll have to admit, I did experience a moment of culture shock when I first made it to Aotea Square. It was a similar level of shock I felt when first walking on Victoria Street in Richmond, Melbourne, another multicultural heartland in a white-oriented city. The main difference being that I couldn't find good Vietnamese in central Auckland. Hell, I struggled with Japanese.
Tips for next time from anyone except Tze Ming will be appreciated.
Now, am I right in thinking that Auckland kind of splits into four very general quarters? It's been a number of years since I lived there, but does it kind of split into East, where a number of Asian nationalities live, North, where all the white people hide, the West, where the less affluent white people live with 'the Maoris', and South, where a number of Polynesian nationalities live?
Do you think that's right? Because if it is, it reinforces my opinion that Auckland is a very interesting city.
OK, I'm lying, as a Wellingtonian I don't find Auckland interesting at all, but the idea of a big sprawling melting pot is. Sorry for 'keeping it real'.
Most of our non-white population lives in the cities, and it's there that they are expected to take on, with the assistance of multicultural policies, Kiwiana.
So you get these big general areas of immigrant distinctiveness. But the way in which Kiwiana is taken on kind of gets flavoured in two directions, with immigrants affecting Kiwiana (e.g. the expansion of diets away from meat, staple, and two vege), and Kiwiana setting the parameters of 'normal' that immigrants conform to over time (e.g. immigrant kids looking ethnic but speaking in New Zealand accents).
If I'm even remotely right about the quarters thing, over time each area of the city should produce very different flavours of New Zealand culture?
I don't know about you, but I think that's very fucking cool.
God I'm a nerd...
And on a final note of interest in the interest of stereotypes, we stopped in Taumarunui on the way back down the island looking for a KFC emergency chicken stop.
You'll never guess the nationality of the guy who ran the dairy.