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Simon Gundry is a Devonport and North Shore identity, and character, who is known for calling a spade a spade. He is a director of contracting company Gill & Gundry, is an enthusiastic and active sailor (past crew-member of Ceramco New Zealand, Lion New Zealand and Shockwave) and is a life member of the North Shore Rugby Football Club.
Happy New Year to all my loyal and wonderful readers, I know most of you only open this magazine to read my column, whether it be passing the time in the dentist’s waiting room, the doctor’s waiting room or at the real estate agency office. I do hope you had a bit of family time, a bit of walk along the beach time and all the things I’ve lectured you about over the years. I’m sure some of us, over the past year, will have suffered sickness in the family or even a death in the family, and it’s a time to reflect on what is really important in life. It’s not money and it’s not your job, it is your family and your friends and your own health and happiness. Many of you who are about my age, and who are planning a trip or adventure this year, get on and do it. Block out the time in your yearly planner and do it. You never know how much time we all have.
We are now in the year of 2017. What a turmoil in the last few months of last year. The American election, and the sudden departure of our beloved Prime Minister. But what a great start for this year, with the wedding of Richie and Gemma. I must admit I went out and bought a couple of copies of Woman’s Day to keep in my suitcase of famous world events. I must mention now a few of the newspapers I do have, tucked away in an old leather suitcase brought to New Zealand by my great great grandmother. My front pages include the Auckland Star, with the first man on the moon. The death of Sir Winston Churchill, the assassination of President John F Kennedy, the deaths of Mohammed Ali, Marilyn Monroe, Nelson Mandela, Sir Peter Blake. There’s the sudden pulling down of the Berlin Wall, the outbreak of the Desert Storm, the great Train Robbery and countless rugby tests and sports pages dating back to at least 1960. It’s quite intriguing to sit back and read these old newspapers and see the house prices in 1963.
I did something over Christmas, that I hadn’t done in many years and walked between Takapuna Beach and Milford Beach – it’s one of the great walks of Auckland and I sat in the big Giant’s Chair. I suggest to anyone who has never done it, instead of sitting in front of the television and watching what passes for news, get out and do this walk. Another great walk I did over summer was around the rocks from Cheltenham Beach via Narrow Neck beach to Takapuna Beach at dead low tide - another walk I hadn’t done for many years. We really do have a wonderful backyard here on the Shore.
I currently have visitors from the United States and I had great pride in taking them on these walks, it’s hard to believe my knee replacement actually held up alright. One couple who had never been to this country before, were absolutely blown away by the beauty of these walks, one thing they weren’t too impressed with however was the lack of service in our restaurants and bars. One particular Wednesday afternoon, after they had played golf, we met at one of these newly constructed bars overlooking Takapuna Beach. During the course of sitting around having some food and beers, we had no fewer than four waiters come to see us, and none of them seemed to communicate with the other one. Twice during the hour we were there, I had to get up and find a staff member to find out where our orders were. I found this quite disconcerting and embarrassing. One comment from my American visitors was that as they don’t get tipped, they perhaps aren’t that interested in giving good service. With the huge influx in our tourism industry, I believe our service has been left behind, at times.
I had a son return from his work in Saudi Arabia over Christmas, he is working on a new Metro system in Riyadh and in the last year and half he has surveyed over 10 kilometres of underground tunnel. I just can’t understand why this city and this country haven’t got their act together to get a tunnel bored under our Harbour and another crossing constructed. With the low interest rates, we should be looking at some serious infrastructure works. Why is it taking so long for that extension of the Waikato expressway to be completed? This is a perfect time of year for road construction and all we can see, driving by, is millions of dollars worth of roading machinery, getting rusty and left idle over the Christmas period. The same machinery that will be sitting around idle and rusting over winter time, when this work can’t be done. I can’t work out why they don’t work shifts during the prime construction periods, to get these works done. It’s an absolute bloody shambles.
So that’s my first column for the year, with the inauguration of Donald Trump on 21 January 2017, I wonder how our world will be in a year’s time. All I can say is, that America tried something different. They needed, as he said, to clean out the swamp.
Next month I have a bombshell, but I’ll keep that until then.
Channel Magazine: Issue 73 February 2017