Blowin’ in the Wind

Dr Matthew Birchall
Insights Newsletter
21 April, 2023

Wellington boasts three things in abundance: great coffee, civil servants, and wind.

But it seems that the city council forgot to factor in the latter when designing its street lamps.

In a shocking revelation, the council announced last week that all 17,000 street lamps in the city were at risk of toppling over like dominoes due to a design flaw that ignored the impact of Wellington’s notorious southerlies.

This is akin to a city planner in Venice forgetting about the canals or a municipal government in Arizona overlooking the desert. Wellingtonians are no strangers to battling the elements, but fighting their own street lamps is a whole new level.

Residents, understandably concerned about the risk of being hit by a 11kg flying object, have criticised the council for its oversight. “It’s like building a bridge without a foundation,” said Terry Topple, a disgruntled local business owner who managed to make it to work unscathed.

Mayor Tory Whanau described the situation as a “clear and unacceptable safety risk” and urged caution. But let’s be honest, caution can only get you so far when you’re dealing with a city full of falling lamps.

That’s where the practical approach of planting more trees as windbreaks comes in. Not only is it environmentally-friendly, but it also has the added benefits of improving air quality and reducing noise pollution. Think of it as a green new deal.

Some Wellingtonians are even managing to look on the bright side. “At least we can see the stars at night now,” said a local hospitality worker, while another resident proposed using public money to create a sculpture park from the fallen lamps. The Dead Light District, anyone?

Despite the creative solutions, many locals are left wondering how their city could have fallen into such a state of disrepair. “It’s embarrassing, really,” said Mr. Topple. “We’re the capital city of New Zealand, and we can’t even keep the lights on.”

Perhaps it’s time for the city council to start factoring in the wind when designing its public infrastructure. Or better yet, maybe they should just invest in some giant paperweights or fans that blow in the opposite direction.

Either way, Wellingtonians would do well to avoid street lamps in the near future and arm themselves with umbrellas made of reinforced steel.

And someone urgently needs to remind the council that Wellington can get windy.

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