The burghers of Wellington have been lashed by storms, almost certainly because the whale is angry about something. How might they seek absolution? Danyl Mclauchlan with this dispatch from the watery part of the capital
A crowd of policy analysts and government communications advisers numbering in the tens of thousands marched along the Wellington foreshore in the rain and darkness this morning, illuminated only by by flashes of lightning and the glow of their phones as they live-instagrammed their ordeal. Their goal: to placate the whale currently visiting Wellington harbour, whom they believe has been angered and inflicted a terrible storm upon the city. Their destination: the sea.
“I came to offer my most valuable possessions to the whale,” Phil, a digital media outreach strategy coordinator told me, opening a canvas bag to display a sad jumble of objects: a BPA free coffee keepcup, a monthly pass to hot yoga, a MacBook pro. These are all the things Phil owns in the world, with the exception of a large well furnished villa in Berhampore, but he is willing to sacrifice them all to the whale in the hope that the creature will end the storm.
“We cancelled the Matariki fireworks,” added Laura, a strategic digital community engagement adviser. “But that only seemed to make the whale angrier.” Laura plans to wheel her e-bike into Wellington harbour.
The whale arrived in Wellington harbour last week, bringing jubilant crowds to the waterfront and traffic on roads adjacent to the harbour to a standstill. But this week the mood in the nation’s capital turned fearful. Gale force winds and torrential rain have brought slips and power outages. On Saturday night a mob of legal academics ran riot in the city centre, smashing shop windows and clashing with police officers, claiming that our lack of a written constitution had displeased the whale and doomed the city to constitutional ambiguity and an eternity of darkness.
By Sunday order had been restored, but the storm intensified, bringing down trees and flooding streets. In response crowds of diplomats, journalists and economic forecasters, many of them naked and bleeding from self-inflicted wounds, marched on Wellington’s town hall to demand that the Mayor and councillors be staked to the beach at Evan’s Bay at low tide, and left there to be consumed by the sea. Civic leaders are taking advice from advisers and officials on whether or not to drown themselves in a ritual mass sacrifice to appease a vast sea creature, but are said to be leaning towards the idea, which tests well with middle-income earners and families.
Mob leaders admit that they do not know what has upset the whale, or caused it to inflict the storm. Some point to industrialism, colonialism or neoliberalism, while others believe the whale was angered by Twitter parody accounts which appeared late last week claiming to be the whale, and which are not funny.
“Last night my three year old pointed out that low business confidence had obviously angered the whale,” said one financial lobbyist, sitting cross legged in Waitangi Park in a sodden and bedraggled bespoke suit, shaving off his beard in hope of calming the giant cetacean and restoring faith in financial markets. Other lobbyists are deleting their electronic contact lists and smashing their usual tables at Astoria out of desperation.
Not everyone believes that placating the whale is the answer. Some Wellingtonians are calling for their city to look back to ancient, traditional sources of the capital’s cultural identity, like the Cuba Street bucket fountain, a patch of graffiti honouring Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, and the brioche at Moore Wilsons. “This storm is here because Wellingtonians have abandoned our traditional values,” warned a spokesperson for the Public Service Association, who are planning to light a huge bonfire of swipe card lanyards, fairtrade herbal teas and Crown Law clerks in the square before the bucket fountain, in a last ditch attempt to restore calm to the city.
The storm is expected to continue today. The whale, which jumped out of the water, say, 30 metres away from me, like a fucking demigod of the sea, which was awesome but nearly gave me a heart attack, did not respond to requests for comment.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed, free daily curated digest of all the most important stories from around New Zealand delivered directly to your inbox each morning.
Subscribe to The Bulletin to get all the day’s key news stories in five minutes – delivered every weekday at 7.30am.