The thing about cities is that they are so much more fascinating than any other grouping of people. Towns tend to, by and large, be somewhat homogenous (except for the one black sheep who ends up either a genius and moves to a city, or socially lambasted and never achieves his or her real potential). And TBH, anything smaller than a town is just a clique.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, countries are just too big to unite around a single feeling or idea that isn’t generated on a rugby field or with a big marketing budget (right Air New Zealand?).
But cities! Cities are glorious for their ability to make a mixed bag of people in a fairly constrained space interact and navigate each other in an effort to live and breathe and get from A to B. The thing about a brilliant city is that it feels like a small town where you know everyone, yet they feel so vast and mysterious that there’s always something new to be found.
Cities are so wonderful that people are pouring out of towns and Supercities in their droves to move in.
Not all cities are built alike though. Some are painstakingly planned by people who think they know the future only to find there is little difference between a detailed plan and a fumble in the dark. The others -like Hamilton -happen by pure chance and, sometimes, when the right combination of people, personalities and ideas intersect: magic happens.
Whether you’re a Hamilton Twitterati (Twitteratus?), part of the hugely-growing Hamilton InstaMafia, or even if you’re just one of those people who hangs around @jessmolina hoping for some reflected je ne sais quoi, you’re the secret formula behind what makes this city so special. You’re out there, immersing yourselves in the city, befriending total strangers and spreading the joys of your discoveries about this place to the wide world (or at least the internet).
Thanks to you, there will forever be a web trail for the real people of the future so that they can know that, at one shining spot at the start of the 21st century, Hamilton was the kind of place where intelligent, fascinating, beautiful people chose to call home.
Don’t get us wrong -you don’t absolutely have to be on social media to make this city what it is (take Richard Swainson or his alter-ego Richard O’Brien, for example), but in our experience, being part of the #HamiltonMafia means you can live under a rock and still have something interesting to contribute to the world (we won’t name names but we know who you are).
In the four-and-a-half years since we launched the #lovethetron movement, it’s taken a life of its own and grown and grown. We’ve seen interactions between complete strangers blossom into friendships and spark collaborations of utter brilliance for the city. We’ve seen thousands of authentic photos of real Hamiltonians doing real Hamilton things that are so cool and hip they would make Wellingtonians, Londoners and New Yorkers blush. And we’ve seen the surprising happiness value of ordinary suburban dads becoming Twitter Celebrities (looking at you @briansquair).
So what does the future hold for Hamilton?
It depends on a number of things. First of all, Matt Stark needs to get on Twitter.
We kid, we kid (maybe).
But seriously, while we have never been too good at getting into the detail, we can promise you this: as long as you’re all still loving Hamilton, there will always be Camelot.
Now, with that yarn over, scroll down for what you were actually waiting for 😉
THE TOP 30 HAMILTONIANS YOU NEED TO BE FOLLOWING IN 2017
In a departure from previous years, we’ll be releasing the names one by one below throughout the day. Watch this space to see if you made the cut 😉
We were kidding earlier when we called him an ‘ordinary suburban dad’. TBH @briansquair is probably Hamilton’s hottest dad (a title previously held by @jakequinn but we haven’t been seeing enough Twitter action from him to award him the honour again this year), but he’s also definitely more than just a pretty face. Any cool building in Hamilton, built after the year 1900, was most probably architectured (designed?) by him. Lucky for us, he’s also not one of those boring ’tweet-only-about-my-work’ types. Follow him for hilarious reflections on life, retweets of questionable material and thoughtful tips from the mind of his grandfather.
If all Aucklanders (or journalists) were like @garyfarrow, the world would be a better place. He turned up in town late last year to replace Wellington Wonderboy @gedcann (also Hamilton’s answer to Spiderman, given his penchant for climbing things) at the local paper. Since landing in the Tron, Mr Farrow has taken it upon himself to drink as much of the Kool Aid as possible. Between local gigs and bookclubbing and turning up at parties, he also manages to churn out quality material week after week. We predict big things for this boy.
There’s a saying in Hamilton: ‘life begins when you meet @jessmolina’. Ok, that’s just a saying amongst a few of us, but really, it should be in all of the welcome packs for the city. Jess is on all of the social media channels and will soon be hosting a show on national television too. Why? Because her life is just so damn fabulous. She may spend her days rubbing shoulders with fashion designers to laying in bubble baths surrounded by flowers she bought for herself, and running the hottest tickets in town, but Jess is also one of the funniest, most down-to-earth human beings you’ll ever meet on the internet. We first spotted her way back in 2012 hanging out at Metropolis with a pink laptop, running her own magazine. Watch this space because she may just be the world’s best hope against President Trump. #Whorundaworld
From The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Kimbra to 48May to DateMonthYear, Hamilton is a music town and @HtownWiki has the enviable job of curating the city’s musical legacy. Follow them for trivia on gigs, bands, venues and a journey of the city’s history through its music. Rumour has it that @lorde was so impressed with @HtownWiki’s work, she asked to defect from Auckland and join the local Tron music scene, but the new Mayor said she was too mainstream.
#5 @durningalison on Instagram
If we could be anything or anyone in the world, it would be @durningalison’s dog. Aside from being unbelievably adorable, this pooch spends most of its day cuddling up to its sassy, stylish owner and taking naps in a beautiful riverside home, while Alison and husband @wgdurning (man-about-town, manic coffee addict and South American meat aficionado) cook beautiful meals and generally prove it’s totally possible to be better at social media than one’s adult children.
If you can take the coolest event of the summer (the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival) and make it even cooler than it’s ever been before (i.e. this year), then you’re worth a follow in our books. @yvonnemilroy is the genius behind this year’s Arts Fest, and if that’s not enough for you, follow her because her adventures with her cat are hilarious.
We go way, way, waaay back with @angelacuming. She was one of the first tweeters on the #lovethetron hashtag back in 2012, and totally made us happen by writing about the movement in the Waikato Times. Also she is still the only mortal to ever come close to snapping us (eating macarons at the Zealong tea estate). Along the way, we’ve seen a gorgeous Irish man (@whiskeycully) pop the question by the river, we’ve seen them procreate three Mooloo babies (note: we were not actually present at the procreation of said babies), and we’ve seen them through that weird experimental phase in which they defected to Ireland only to realise nothing beats the Tron. Follow her for one of the best-written blogs about the city, for her infectious enthusiasm about the Tron and for proving that Hamilton is where the heart is 😉
#8 @nancycaiger on Instagram
Here’s a secret: we’ve crushed on @nancycaiger since before she was on social media. We were super glad when she got on the ‘gram and on Twitter because it made stalking her INCREDIBLE outfits and amazing life (watch out @jessmolina, you’ve got competition) so much easier! When she’s not travelling the world or back in time to the 1920s, she’s always looking for ways to make the city a nicer-looking place. If you needed further proof that she’s a trendsetter, just think about the fact that she’s basically the reason that the must-have accessory of 2016 was nothing less than a GIANT Michael Parekowhai sculpture.
In a world where the housing market is full of zombies and boogiemen (sorry, we mean baby boomers), @annasmartnz is proof that #houseporn is still fun! She was our friend long before she decided to enter the world of real estate, and we’ve enjoyed watching her grow. If sneaky peeks into other people’s homes isn’t your thing, then follow her other half @davesmarty who will send you pics of his friends at @HamiltonZooNZ instead!
#10 @lyssacecilia on Instagram
Also known as the Mini Macchiato for her penchant for all things coffee, this pint-sized, dreamy-eyed Hamilton Twitter celebrity runs almost entirely on caffeine and packs a big punch with her writing. Follow her on Instagram and read her blog for a peek into her fabulous life, lived mostly in the best of the city’s coffee houses. She blogs about coffee she finds all over the country, and is one of the names behind the #CoffeeMafia spontaneous mid-morning parties that have sprung up around the CBD. Go along and make a coffee friend for life!
@saycheeselouise is to crafts, fashion, photography, thrifting, enterprise and mental wellness what @danielfarrellnz was to politics in the early 2000s: meaning she’s a self-contained multi-media powerhouse that can churn out diverse content at an amazing rate, while maintaining a coterie of interesting side projects that show a mind for innovation and creativity. Follow her on all of the mediums you can find her on (so far, we’ve got Twitter, blogs, vlogs, Instagram, but we’re sure there’s more) and check into whatever Louise-ish thing you fancy. We’re especially into her social enterprise Handmade in Hamilton, her handmade crafty bits and bobs and her ability to tackle the weightier issues in life.
Also known as #MyBish (a hashtag she uses with pride), @h_ahartley is one of Hamilton’s favourite British imports. She’s also super cool (and if you don’t believe us, check her out in the feature that the New Yorker magazine did on her way back in 2010). Rumour has it she also sports a badass second piercing, but we’ve never gotten close enough to be able to tell (if someone could verify this, that would be grand). She’s one of the nicest people we’ve ever encountered and, despite being an adoptee of the Tron, she’s one of its most vocal advocates and one of its most-loved citizens (and not just by old people either). Follow her for amazing travel photos, heartwarming human stories and pictures of lots of people in robes that would make Dumbledore blush!
#13 @itsgoodtobebrooke on Instagram
She’s probably the hardest for us to spot on the street because she seems to have the super power of being able to change her hair colour at will to match her outfit (either that, or she spends a fortune on a very good hairdresser but we prefer our theory). The last time we spotted her, she was sporting fiery orange hair on a rainy day, and accompanied by a green-jacketed, blond, mischievous-choirboy-type gentleman. Brooke is a wedding photographer extraordinaire, who travels the length and breadth of the country taking photos of people on their special days. She’s also Hamilton’s hottest rockstar, and you can catch her playing gigs for iconic Hamilton bad DateMonthYear. Did we mention she’s hilarious? Because if you’re not going to follow her for any other reason, do it because she’s a funny girl.
For a long time, all we knew about this Hamilton personality is that he is a he, and according to his bio is a pornstar-turned-economist with a rather (uhhh) ‘unique’ sense of humour and a love for the city. Since then, we’ve discovered he’s not an economist, but a something-turned- recent-journo (although we’re still not entirely sure as to whether he’s ever been a pornstar). He’s as good with his brain as he is with his words and he’s the kind of Tweeter you want in your corner if you’re ever caught up in a Twitter-trollwar-maelstrom and are in need of backup. While he has now moved out of Hamilton and to a different timezone (aka Auckland -the land where time stands still while everyone waits in traffic), we’re of the opinion that Hamiltonian citizenship is fo’ lyfe yo!
Speaking of Hamiltonians who live in other cities, @gydelne slipped out of the city so quietly that we only knew she was gone because we happened to notice on Twitter that she was catching a flight back from Wellington. She’s another one of Hamilton’s Funny Girls, gifted with the kind of self-deprecating humour and effortless Generation Z hipness with words that makes us wish she was one of us. Follow her for a clever laugh on a rainy day.
Debuting on one of our lists for the first time ever, Professor @iain_white is another British import to the Tron and proof that Hamilton is a magnet for Brits with taste (or tastebuds, in this case, given his penchant for indulging in mouthwatering meals that are definitely NOT English). His celebrity has steadily risen and rumour (ok, the internet) has it that he’s going to be hosting a show with NanoGirl, who is only the hottest name in science right now. He also spends a lot of time posting pictures of obscure and confusing maps on Twitter, which we think are clues to help him solve mysteries in the camper van/Mystery Machine he takes out around the country every weekend (yes, Professor Poirot, we’ve been watching you). Follow him online and help him crack the Da Vinci (or Dargaville) Code …or otherwise just stick to asking him for food tips.
No surprises here, @webtaniwha is Kirikiriroa royalty (Prince of Hamilton?) and he’s paid handsomely to be the face of Hamilton (and the whole region because, you know, #TronDominance) and we couldn’t think of a better person to do this job, given his ginormous heart and ability to get people excited about anything. His day-to-day basically involves traveling to the far corners of New Zealand/the world, telling people about the city/region and why it’s so much better than anything else in New Zealand. He spends a lot of time at Hobbiton (basically the seat of his Kingdom and proof he’s not above spending the with the little people), Zealong Tea Estate and on social media. You can often also catch him rubbing shoulders with other royalty in places like India or Dubai. Proof that good things follow @webtaniwha, we’ve notice a trend in which Mavis & Co cafes spring up wherever he decides to go. Think about it, if you don’t believe us 😉
He had a drone before anyone in Hamilton even knew what a drone was, and like any good superhero who can fly, his catchphrase is #UpAndAdam which, of course because this is 2017, means it’s also his hashtag and website. In 2015, Mr Crouchley was one of three photographers who performed photography on the #HamiltonMafia at the Hamilton Gardens to celebrate the third birthday of the #lovethetron movement. We’re especially big fans of his ability to spell (reasonably) correctly with light, and if he could grant us one wish, it would be to sneaky fly his drone in and around Tronsylvania castle by the lake because we’ve always been curious about what goes on in there 😉 If you have already followed him on social media, make it a double and follow him on one of his epic photowalks.
This a man who not only helps keep the Hamilton indie community thriving, but has a somewhat unusual obsession with walls. Luckily for us, instead of building walls around the city, he likes to decorate them! He’s part of the group of other wall enthusiasts (including another #lovethetron favourite, the incredibly talented Paul Be) who organised the weekend’s Boon Street Art Festival, covering big empty wall space with utterly stunning murals (hat tip to epic undercover photographer Joshua Middleton for his Urban Ghosts coverage of the weekend) and turning the city into a happier place. His obsession with walls doesn’t end there though. In what is completely contrary to his usual shy-guy persona (we are told) he’s taken to decorating empty Hamilton wallspace with pictures of his face. Why? Follow him and ask him yourself! Any morning of the week, you’ll find him holding court at Mr Miltons -the only place that does the kind of treats befitting the son of legendary Hamilton donut royalty 😉
One of the Waikato’s best-kept secrets is that while the rural high life in the rest of New Zealand may resemble something out of the Beverly Hillbillies at best, living off the land in and around Hamilton is a little bit more like a Beverly Hills where you can have your chicken and eat it too. We’ve followed @KiwiGoodLife on Twitter and Instagram for a while now, and we’re pretty hooked on their lush, bountiful lifestyle. Between their stunning home set on a huge rural property that gets better and better with every reno job, orchards heaving with fruit and gorgeous doggo adventures, The Kiwi Good Life is the perfect poster child for why there’s no replacement for life in the Waikato. Plus it’s an @NZVic project so you know it’s going to be good.
@teamcatandjesse were a tour de force long before the Amazing Race franchise sent them on a tour du mode (and gave them a joint Twitter handle). Known separately as @Darkroomjesse and @DutchCatNZ, this patriarch and matriarch of the countless children-in-need are bundles of energy, enthusiasm and love. With their posse of kiddies in tow and talent for music and performance, the Cat and Jesse family are like the von Trapps of Hamilton (minus the Nazi sympathies, the stiff upbringings and the Dad with bad taste in women). Follow them for tips on happy family life and/or where Jesse’s next gig will be.
In our opinion, Mr Braunias should have received a Civic Award for Services to the City, but given we don’t control such highfalutin things, all we can do is humbly offer him a place on our Hamilton Top 30.
Mr B’s list of noteworthy and generous gifts to the city include:
-On May 1st 2012 at exactly 12:54pm, Mr Braunias took notable political commentator-cum-fashion-bloggo Wallace Chapman to task over comparing derelict Ponsonby to Hamilton.* See link if you don’t believe us.
– His love of Ronnie’s Café, which is endlessly endearing.
– His love of a bunch of other Hamilton things. See evidence here.
– Making New Zealand’s media elite gag for an invite to Hamilton three times a year. The media may make jokes about us for the other 352/353 days of the year, but for 3 days a year they want nothing but to be inside us.
– The Met Gala couldn’t get her to their event for one evening, but Mr B managed to get Lorde to Hamilton for a whole day and party at House Bar on Hood Street.
– Finally, his real gift to the city: being the giant on whose shoulders Wintec students stand on (and for birthing the genius that is Aimie Cronin).
This may be the most controversial of the list because we have no idea whether Mr Braunias actually identifies as a Hamiltonian, but that doesn’t really matter to us. After all, you don’t choose the Hamilton life, the Hamilton life chooses you.
If you don’t believe us, ask any of the thousands of accidental immigrants in the city -people who’ve wandered in for one reason or another and then have been caught up in the city’s magic. Besides, unlike our two major political parties and Donald Trump, Hamiltonians are pretty easy about letting new people into our patch, as long as they’re cool. And @stevebraunias, ‘your cool’.
*NB 6 months after we read this, we started #lovethetron. We would be lying if we didn’t admit that seeing one of our writer crushes defend Hamilton didn’t kind of inspire us.