Viewpoint – Bog standards

After the intensity of my first few months in Parliament – which included preparing documents for coalition discussions, induction into Parliament, my maiden speech, joining two select committees, becoming co-chair of the Human Rights Parliamentary Group and, on top of all this, moving house – by Christmas I was ready for a break.  

I love our very own slice of Kiwi paradise so a “staycation” was on the agenda. The Rodney region is scenically beautiful. I’m blessed to be living in a great community and, unlike other regions around Godzone, ours is generally considered to be thriving. I have witnessed the transformation of my very quiet rural village into a divine rural-urban destination, pulsing with visitors from around the globe thanks to some well-spent tourism marketing dollars.

Matakana is humming. The markets are world class, the beaches are bulging and you can always find a decent coffee, fabulous wines, amazing food and all the delights to satisfy. Matakana, like its traffic queues and its posh privy, is on its way to legendary status.

Curiously, New Zealand has spawned a long tradition of using public facilities as an opportunity to showcase both beautifully inventive and downright wacky approaches to the common event. Matakana’s highbrow approach to the high seat is the beautifully designed amenity by Steffan de Haan. At a cost of around $400,000, it’s both functional and elegant.

The shape is styled on the hull of a boat, an ode to the local history of boat making.

During my staycation, while shopping in Warkworth, I needed to spend a penny so popped into the refurbished toilets that locals refer to as the “library loo”. Without gushing like a well-maintained flush button, the atmosphere is extraordinary. One is transported from the quaint, modern delight of our riverside town to a prison cell privy. Steel buckets masquerading as a throne … how minimalist!

As a tourist destination, most visitors use the public facilities and it is an excellent way to promote the history of the town, or reinforce environmental values like the beautiful bird bogs in Rotorua’s Redwood Grove. Even keeping in theme with the area’s artistic style creates an impact for residents and tourists. Tirau, the proclaimed “corrugated iron capital of New Zealand” does this with daggy Kiwi pride for their corrugated iron outhouse.

As a footnote, the Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has been briefed on the perils of the Hill Street intersection. When he visits to traverse the junction known as “the dog’s breakfast”, should nature call, at least the adjacent new $1 million Kowhai convenience should be a bog standard affair!

Jenny Marcroft, Matakana-based MP