Crack a beer and place the popcorn in microwave now please.

Over the last couple of years we’ve seen a series of stories in the media of the China Pavilion that was gifted to the town by our sister city Changchun, and is to be erected in Kuripuni.

But first up, here is a short practical guide to get your project paid for by the public with minimal hassle, and as seen in myriad projects in this town such as Pou’s, pissors, sculptures and now…Chinese pavilions:

Step 1. Float an idea with an easy press release to a newspaper such as the Times Age. Get people talking and thinking “hey that wouldn’t be bad would it, Marge!!”. Do not mention the cost.

Step 2. Take idea to Council and ask for a contribution to the project in lieu of your own fundraising efforts. Point to a handful of people who said what they saw in the paper was a great idea. Take what ever you can get and shut up. It doesn’t matter at this stage.

Step 3. Begin project even if only superficially OR make an announcement  to the newspaper that the project is going ahead with help from MDC. This step is absolutely vital because it boxes the funders into a corner. Do not forget this step.

Step 4. Go back and ask for more money. Use the same psychological games that Nigerian scammers use in that once a target has lost some money; fear of losing initial investment keeps them open and willing to making more payments in the hope it will work out.

Step 5. When people start to question costs etc, say it will be great for the town and is too far progressed now to abandon. Repeat these lines or similar until project is finished.

Step 6. Repeat with other projects you fancy. Tell yourself you are wonderful when you wake up in the morning. Avoid ratepayers.

And so it is with the Chinese Pavilion for Kuripuni using Theus’ 6 step guaranteed method to waste money and get your project over the line.

This Pavilion story / project has evolved so much it now has a set of primitive light receptors and can actively avoid obsticles. Any more evolution and it might even learn to crap in a litter box and one day use a typewriter.

Evolutionary steps so far:

  1. China is gifting us a traditional garden pavilion.
  2. China is gifting us a traditional garden pavilion but we must pay to erect it.
  3. China is gifting us plans for a traditional garden pavilion and a roof but we must pay to erect it.
  4. China is gifting us plans for a traditional garden pavilion but not the whole roof just the tiles, and we must pay to erect it.

I actually think it is a nice idea and would look good.

The thing is though I also think Aston Martins and beautiful woman pouring champagne over themselves look good too. I mean just because something sounds like a nice idea doesn’t mean it is a prudent thing to go about and make a reality  by say robbing a bank, mortgaging your house or…..  getting the ratepayers to stump up. And this is just one angle we could take here.

The other could be asking ourselves what sort of “gift” is this “gifted” Chinese pavilion when the receiver pays for and resources almost everything. Imagine giving your mum-in-law a pot full of dirt for her birthday and saying “hope you like the fern I got you”. It doesn’t stack up.  As we often see in the developing world, if China elects to gift something they go in and get it done.  In the West, San Fransisco got a similar building gifted to them. But it was properly gifted. As in, the recipients didn’t pay for anything.. and definitely not 90% of it. There are many other examples of this too if you just care to use google. This leads me to think this is a pet project of someones.

Yes, yes, Watson- it is indeed the work of Cr. Jonathan Hooker. And as with anything Cr. Hooker touches, it doesn’t take long to dig up some answers that then just need to be garnished with some questions.

Let’s start with what is- fingers crossed- guaranteed by the Chinese; the roofing tiles for said pavilion.

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Diagram of Masterton Pavilion taken from Wairarapa China Friendship Society website.

Using the formula screen-shot-2017-03-05-at-1-34-33-pmand a generous assumption each side portion will be 2 meters long, we can work out the roof will be approximately 20m2.

In the most recent article in the Times Age, Cr. Hooker crowed that the tiles being donated by the Chinese side are worth about $20,000. So about $1000 dollars per m2… On par with building a new house.

It seemed a bit expensive to me. So I went onto a Chinese manufacturing portal and got some quotes for premium glazed traditional Chinese pavilion roofing:

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What do we see here? Well, we see that suppliers who charge by the meter charge anywhere from $20-80USD per square meter. While some suppliers charge by the tile which ranges from $0.3 to $1.8 per tile.. which would make perfect sense given wages and material costs in China (I worked in China for 2 years in contract manufacturing for a foreign company)..Roughly 80 tiles per m2, so based on the highest priced tiles that any of the suppliers sell, a 20m2 roof might cost $4000, with shipping adding perhaps another $1000- and that is converted into NZD.

So lets say $5000 at a push… But hold on, Cr. Hooker says the tiles are worth $20,000! Did he just say that to make us feel better about the $70,000 to $100,000 build cost Masterton is facing for this “gift”? Or maybe I am misguided and they really are worth $20,000 and were crafted by the finest artisans in Guizhou prefecture who took time out of their busy schedule supplying the Chinese elite with their  decorative housing materials.. Surely that must be the case? Only the best roofing tiles for Masterton! … Signed by the artisan himself no doubt with  the faint imprint of a virgin’s nipple and his own calligraphed initial etched  with a mountain porcupine’s arse quill and fired with sandalwood.

Actually, I suspect none of the above are likely explanations. You’ll need  to have a quick read of this report below for the rest of this article to have context. Or click the link here for a full PDF view.

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Seems they sent in the dream team to meet with the Chinese delegation….lol. The real Seal Team 6, right!

Isn’t it funny that Chair of the International Relations  Committee Hooker invited Mark Harris and McClymont along. A coincidence I am sure. Certainly none of that friendly soft-porn cronyism I suggested that goes on. Nosiree, the party was decided upon based on their merits. *cough*. Could you ask for a merrier party of clowns to greet delegates from a city of 7 million odd people? You can’t make this stuff up!

Mr. Xu (Lincoln) of the Chinese party- if he did infact receive a budget of $20,000 from a government body in China to source some tiles for Masterton you can bet your dollar to a knob of goat poo that he sourced them alright… for no more than a few grand, and pocketed the rest for himself. Don’t count on anything being left over for floor tiles boys [read above linked report for context], Lincoln had a good ol’ spend up at IKEA.

That is not racist. It is not presumptive either. It is not even an attack really of Mr Xu. If you know China then you know that is just the way it works over there. Mr. Xu would have taken one look at the two short men and one big tall smiling one from Masterton sitting across the table and said with a pleasant smile and direct eye contact. “My esteemed men of Masterton”… “Those tiles are worth $20,000″….”so we hope you can reciprocate and put in some some money of your own” [Masterton]”.

The three lads would have walked out from that feeling so special and in awe of Mr. Xu’s generosity that they were just chomping at the bit to get things moving. Quite cute really, if a little naive. And so here we are today: A nice little 20m2 Chinese pavilion with “gifted” roofing tiles worth “$20,000” *cough* and a estimated build cost all up of $70,000-$100,000 for an average of over $4500 per m2. Boggles the mind really. A pavilion fit for Emperors.

Some gift.

What would we do without you Mr. Hooker. Getting all these things done for us. Getting all these gifts! It warms my heart it does.

And that was some nice intelligence gathering too on the bus contracts for Wellington. [see above report for context].

Completely irrelevant, frivolous and outside his purview but hey, I’ll let the watering holes round town know our very own Mr. Bond likes his Martini’s shaken- not stirred.

So as I said, I quite like that Pavilion. But don’t mug us off and try sell it as a gift Mr. Hooker, because it clearly is not.

Panda diplomacy comes to mind here. Kind of. Except the Panda is missing and all we’ve got is Cr. Hooker standing at the gate of a zoo charging full admission while he’s got his wang flopped out in front of your granny and a big dumb smile wiped across his chivy chase.

It seems to me a vanity project that has been pushed by one man and set to be paid for overwhelmingly by the ratepayers of Masterton and should be marketed as such.

I am sick of us all having to fund these  fanciful projects that are sold to us, Councillors, Trusts and media with only the thinnest veneer of honesty in the early stages by whatever interest group is pitching them. I shouldn’t have to be writing these articles… But I do find some  solace in knowing this nonsense is common place all over NZ. #JeSuisMasterton

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Whoops- Hooker spotted at Chungchun Airport!

PS

And let’s just hope they didn’t send the building instructions on a USB stick either… haha

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A media executive was warned by the government not to plug in electronic gifts received from a Chinese delegation because it could contain spyware.

Golly,  in all seriousness I hope Jonathan didn’t do that. Maybe it was the slopes after all that took out the Castlepoint Tsunami warning system!?! tehehe.

“I hosted a Chinese delegation … and one of the things they always do is exchange gifts. I got a wonderful bamboo set of computer gear – mouse, flash drive, so on,” he said.

Spy gear laden roofing tiles?! Well, it is in Kuripuni… The gear probably won’t be able to get a lock on the police or council computers from that distance if the towns security cameras are anything to go by!

Cheers

Theus

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