Primate city

Featured in

  • Published 20140129
  • ISBN: 9781922182241
  • Extent: 300 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

NOT LONG AGO a TV current affairs program mounted a live studio debate about whether ‘Auckland is sucking the life out of New Zealand’. Viewers were invited to vote and overwhelmingly agreed there was, indeed, an urban vampire in their midst. The studio audience – drawn from Auckland, naturally, since most of the national media are now based there – completely disagreed; if anything, Auckland was the real victim. As polls go it was hardly scientific. But it did point up the strange perceptual divide between much of New Zealand and its largest city.

More surprising than the result was that such a question was even being asked. Regional prejudice is one thing – denouncing the imagined Sodom and Gomorrah of the alpha city is a national pastime in many places – but what other country feels its very existence might be threatened? Even allowing for the hyperbole of primetime, the image of Auckland as a giant parasite was somewhat extreme. Conversely, what kind of city might inspire such paranoia and distrust?

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

About the author

Finlay Macdonald

Finlay Macdonald has worked as a journalist, author, broadcaster and publisher during his twenty-five-year career.He is a former editor of the New Zealand Listener...

More from this edition

Getting to yes

FictionHE SAT THERE staring, the book he'd been reading forgotten on the table in front of him. He hadn't had sex for one hundred...

Portrait of an artist

ReportageAs told to Lloyd JonesBefore you began writing people's stories you were a photographer, how did that happen?For part of every year now I...

Cable stations

EssayHere in the womb of the world – here on the tie-ribs of earthWords, and the words of men, flicker and flutter and beatWarning,...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.