Gundry's Grumbles

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.

Gundry's Gumbles

Road tripping to Whanganui...

I spend a lot of time, these days, doing road trips due to a business interest in the Whanganui area.  I usually leave in the early hours of the morning to avoid the Auckland morning traffic chaos.  I’m normally getting to the Otorohanga area around 7.00 am and usually enjoy a beautiful drive through the King Country down through the National Park, and the Paraparas, arriving into the Whanganui area by about 10 o’clock in the morning.  I love the drive, as I love this country – the National Park area on a clear winter’s morning is absolutely breath taking.

If I was a young man again, I would seriously look at living in that part of New Zealand and eking a living out in the area.  Towns like Marton, Bulls, Sanson, Whanganui and the like.    Unfortunately it seems to be dying a bit, but due to the housing shortages in the rest of the country perhaps people should look at these areas to buy a house and raise a family.  You can buy a magnificent home in Whanganui for under $400,000 with a large back yard where you can grow the most wondrous vegetable gardens, and bring up your family in the good old fashioned Kiwi way.  It’s a very sad indictment of our lives these days, that nobody has the land or the inclination to do this.  I remember so clearly my father’s wonderful vegetable garden in Fraser Road, Devonport, when I was growing up.  The family were fed most nights with the silver beet, lettuces, carrots and potatoes he grew.  Some people should get their bottoms off their couches and away from the rubbish television we are force fed, and get into vegetable growing.  But, I digress…

Half the problem with modern housing these days, with the housing subdivisions these days and the covenants that govern them,  it doesn’t give the new home buyer anything left to do.  All the fences, landscaping, all the concrete driveways, pathways and retaining walls have all been done.  Whereas 40-50 years ago the group house builders for the new families, and first home buyers here on the Shore were companies like Neil Housing, Beazley Homes, Reid Built Homes, and suchlike.  These companies just built a house on a quarter acre block, no fencing, no driveways – they were only metalled, no landscaping, no retaining walls, just a house on a bare site.  In areas such as Sunnynook Drive, Sycamore Drive, right through the Archers Road area, right through Beachhaven, Birkdale Road, it was up to the new house buyer, as they could afford it, to put the added features to their new home.  These were usually undertaken by working bees with footie mates, and others who would come round and help concrete the paths, driveways and build fences.  But none of this happens these days, hence this is part of the reason there are such huge prices for new homes.  When you think a section of 400m2 costs half a million and then to build a house on this is another half a million.  These costs include Watercare’s cost of some $12,000 to put in your water meter, it’s just ludicrous.

Just getting back to my drive to Whanganui and back, I usually leave the area around midday ish to get back to Auckland.  I cannot believe the length of time it is taking to build the new road from the end of the Waikato Expressway through to the Auckland Southern motorway, this has taken so many years I’ve forgotten when it was started.  The crawl from the end of the Waikato Expressway near Taupiri through Huntly and into the Meremere stretch of road is, at times, unbearable.   I cannot understand why it has taken so long, I cannot understand why they don’t work different shifts, 24 hours a day and at weekends.  They can use lights, and just work through as it happens in other countries.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the then President Roosevelt, in agreement with the Canadian Government, ordered the construction of a road which ranks as one of the greatest engineering feats of modern times.  It stretches 2440 kilometres, a road through the Sub Arctic frontier, working under tough conditions in bitter cold followed by the long days of the northern summer, the United States Army Corps engineers managed to build the road at the rate of 8 miles per day; 2440 kilometres were constructed in just under eight months.  So why does it take us, in this country, five years to build 8 miles of road?  Is it something to do with a Taniwha?

Last month I did my annual sail across the Atlantic on board a mate’s yacht, we started off in Montenegro and had a wonderful trip through the Mediterranean then out through the Gibraltar Straits across the Atlantic to Portsmouth.  At one stage we had ten days without seeing another ship, and you realise how small a dot we are in this Universe.

It’s getting close to Summer time again, it’s nearly the end of Spring and daylight savings has begun.  Once more, and I say this all the time, get out and enjoy yourselves, spend time with your family and friends and enjoy your lives – life is for living after all.

By Simon Gundry

Channel Magazine: Issue 70 October 2016

Columnist articles by Simon Gundry