I’m enjoying a genuine good feeling for the future, tingling in my hardened arteries after spending summer in and around the Bay of Plenty. So much so that I feel moved to use my column inches to elaborate on  the theme.

AS AN ANNUAL VISITOR I AM VERY AWARE OF THE ACCUMULATION OF GRADUAL, STEADY CHANGES, such as the height of my grand­chil­dren and the sense of pros­per­i­ty, growth and con­fi­dence in the peo­ple of the B of P. There are the hard mea­sures like house prices, traf­fic vol­umes and the new busi­ness­es pop­ping up. But they are noth­ing com­pared to the gen­er­al feel-good fac­tor. Smiles, live­ly chil­dren and fam­i­lies, and peo­ple engag­ing with each oth­er in a pos­i­tive way. I think it’s called hap­pi­ness.

OPTIMISM BREEDS SUCCESS AND VICE VERSA. Many social con­ver­sa­tions and unso­licit­ed obser­va­tions reveal a wide­spread con­tent­ment with schools in the area, the choice and qual­i­ty of restau­rants and bars, with com­mu­ni­ty insti­tu­tions like local surf life sav­ing clubs, local author­i­ty ser­vices, and shop­ping choic­es. There are notice­ably smarter cars on the road, bet­ter offer­ings from con­sumer out­lets — an indi­ca­tion of more spend­ing pow­er and healthy com­pe­ti­tion — and a pro­lif­er­a­tion of places with the “Cool Kiwi” style, such as Pap Tav, Mount Social Club and Vaude­ville Bar.

TWO MUSICAL EVENTS AROUND THE MOUNT OVER NEW YEAR EXEMPLIFIED WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE AREA. I can pret­ty much guar­an­tee that few, if any, oth­er grumpy old so-and-sos had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to attend the Ja Rule, Ashan­ti and Chingy rap
event at Sop­er Reserve on the eve of New Year’s Eve. Not only that but, also to attend the amaz­ing Bay Dreams fes­ti­val in the ASB Are­na the day after New Year’s Day. There were eigh­teen thou­sand joy­ous, young atten­dees. The organ­i­sa­tion was remark­able but unob­tru­sive; and there were heaps of star turns such as Yela­wolf, Sticky Fin­gers, Peking Duk and Grand­mas­ter Flash, to name but a few.

At Bay Dreams with Team UNO. Left to right: Cre­ative Direc­tor Emma Stad­don, Pho­tog­ra­pher Tra­cie Heas­man, Pub­lish­er Mat Tom­lin­son, me, Edi­tor Jen­ny Rudd and Pho­tog­ra­phers Kseni­ia and Alex Spo­dyneiko.

NOT MY USUAL CUP OF TEA, I must say. In fact, I freely con­fess that I had nev­er heard of any of the per­form­ers at either event. Equal­ly, I admit that I absolute­ly loved both expe­ri­ences. Lis­ten­ing to live music with­in the con­text of the ecsta­t­ic audi­ence reac­tion taught me to enjoy, if not love, the­se oth­er gen­res which are so rarely appre­ci­at­ed across the gen­er­a­tions. I attend­ed as part of Team UNO. cour­tesy of the organ­is­er (and cov­er star of this issue), Pato Alvarez. Pato is a high­ly impres­sive, sur­pris­ing­ly youth­ful per­son. He has two qual­i­ties that many great peo­ple pos­sess — he is gen­er­ous with his time, and has an infec­tious, calm con­fi­dence. I took an instant lik­ing to him and I believe he is and will con­tin­ue to be, a high­ly ben­e­fi­cial play­er in the Bay suc­cess sto­ry.

ANOTHER LOCAL ASSET OF HIGH QUALITY, which is clear­ly increas­ing in its rel­e­vance and pop­u­lar­i­ty, is the venue Totara St at the Mauao Per­form­ing Arts Cen­tre in The Mount. I, and a good num­ber of oth­ers, attend­ed a huge­ly enjoy­able evening enti­tled Blue Sap­phire, a tech­no swing out­fit fea­tur­ing a great singer, Kit­ty Mar­tini. Anoth­er night we saw a three-piece rock band called My Baby, who were also superb. There’s some real­ly good stuff going on here. I under­stand the MPAC also pro­vides music lessons.

THESE ARE RELATIVELY SMALL ELEMENTS OF ONE BIG PICTURE which is the absolute­ly stun­ning Bay of Plen­ty. I par­tic­u­lar­ly love The Mount: the beach­es, the facil­i­ties, the har­bour, and Mauao itself. It pro­vides a ref­er­ence and facil­i­ty for all to see and enjoy. It forms an icon­ic, sacred, his­toric vol­canic cone, which is con­stant­ly cir­cum­nav­i­gat­ed by walk­ers, jog­gers, canoeists and pad­dle board­ers, and is scaled dai­ly by hun­dreds of locals and vis­i­tors. Includ­ing me.

Mike Rudd — Memories

I remem­ber the facts — the sights — the smells — the sounds — the jour­neys — the accom­mo­da­tion — the meals — the schools. But I don’t remem­ber how I felt.

Mike Rudd, RAF fight­er pilot and ex-Otahuhu Col­lege boy, leaves his UK arm­chair and spends sum­mer in New Zealand.