Metro NZ

THE FLOATING SUBURB

On a hot Friday afternoon, the queue for the boat to Waiheke stretches back to the Ferry Building. There is one line for tourists and another for locals. They are worlds apart. The backpack-toting tourists are happy, sun-kissed and laughing; the locals — about 10 of them — look glum and bad tempered, as if they have just received bad news from the doctor. Some get aggressive when their barrier isn’t lifted before the tourists’. Waihetians, as they sometimes call themselves, love living on the island (or having a holiday home there) but they sure don’t seem to want to share it.

I’m travelling with Joe Billings, a veteran anti-Springbok tour activist. In 2010, he invited me to Waiheke to help lead a revolt against Rodney Hide and his bloody-minded plan to amalgamate all the Auckland councils in a single city. I’d just been fired as the Mayor of Waitakere, so I was up

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