Central Line
Tuesday, 19 December 2000

Feeling good is half the battle
Central Otago turned the corner sometime around the middle of this year. Let's say at the end of June. Until then, lots of the feel-good indicators seemed to be pointing down. About midyear, there was a change. Things, for reasons that were hard to define, seemed to be getting better.

A weak Kiwi dollar (or more exactly, a really strong US dollar) meant that farm-gate returns began to improve, pushing balance sheets back towards the black. Farmers began to spend on long-delayed essentials like fertiliser and fencing and new machinery. Lots of new money from vineyard developments (a lot more than most people realise) began to pump through the local economy.

There was also a smell of future money in the air maybe from gold mining on the Earnscleugh Flats, or from an international airport above the Waikerikeri valley. $21.6m for flood recovery in Alexandra. The promise of a payout from Pioneer Generation.

Houses began to sell, just as they once did, as spring and the official end of winter the Blossom Festival rolled around.

It's impossible to pin down exactly what changed, and when. And Central being Central, the change occurred differently in different areas Cromwell has had a good couple of years, and in Queenstown and Wanaka the past ten years have been pretty good. Meanwhile, in the Teviot Valley and the Maniototo, it may be a bit soon to start celebrating.

It's also true that, actually, not much really did change. Not right away. We began to think things were better, and so they were.

What does this tell us? Attitude is important, for one thing. Down in the mouth can be catching. Being depressed is depressing. It also tells us that a few little things a nudge here, a sign there can add up to a big positive difference, if we let them.

According to the recently-retired mayor of Christchurch (and she lived by this rule) if you can't say something positive, you should say nothing at all. Always seemed a bit silly to me sometimes you have to point out what's gone wrong, and sometimes that has to occur out the back. But maybe she was right if what you say makes any difference at all (in your family, at school, at work wherever) then why not try to make it a positive, constructive, difference?

Perhaps, back in June, we just got tired of feeling like losers.

Malcolm Macpherson


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