It’s pointless to pretend that Hamilton is a perfect city. With a population growing at over 2,000 per year, and our borders expanding faster than ever before, now seems as good a time as any to work out exactly what our problems are and do our best to fix them. This is up to all of us - not just our council members, our property developers, our influencers. We all have the power to shape the future of this place - after all, we will be the generation that inherits it.
My family moved here from Ngatea when I was five, too young to notice or care about leaving my town of 1,000 for this city of 150,000. I was never interested in music, never had a creative spark until I hit middle school and found my dad’s old records - and my world got a little bigger. Unlike my life in the Hauraki Plains, there were bands in Hamilton, venues, record stores - things I never had access to in the quiet farming town where everyone knew my name. Here I was a stranger, a blank canvas, ready to be shaped by the place I found myself in.
I’m a little bit older now, and a little bit more jaded and dead inside than I was as a straightened-hair teenager discovering hardcore for the first time - but regardless, the city still feels alive. Record stores like Needle in the Hay hide down alleyways in the middle of the city. Bands play in living rooms and on stages at The Meteor and Zeal made from pallets and MDF. Art galleries like Skinroom and Tacit fill second stories of heritage buildings with different ways to interpret the place we live in.
And these things often happen in spite of, not because of the energy of our city. The people behind these bands, these venues, these record stores start with a dream no one believes in and toil in the dirt, building their community from an idea and their bare hands. They see a gap in the growing consciousness of our developing city, and bridge it the best the can with the things they have.
The truth is, the only thing separating these people from yourself is effort and time. If you see a problem with this place we live in, you probably can see the solution, too. As our city continues to expand, now is the time to figure out who we are, and decide who we want to be.
It feels like we’re at an important crossroads in the journey of this place we call home. We can choose to be swallowed up by kit-set real estate and big box consumerism. We can choose to lose everything we are inside a money driven, egocentric group personality that is already being decided for us. We can continue our relentless expansion through the once-farmlands on the outskirts - or, we can give more room to the outcasts and the forgotten in the heart of our CBD.
If you have an idea, a dream, a passion for the city of Kirikiriroa, the only thing left to do is follow it and see where it leads us. The only place we have is here. The only time we have is now.