An Open Letter to Dave Cull Mayor of Dunedin on the Departure of Angela Cuming from the City of Hamilton

Dear Dave Cull Mayor of Dunedin,

We expected that, by now, you would have heard the big news for Dunedin, and would have reacted appropriately, but given the radio silence from you on the matter, we are forced to decide between a number of assumptions:

  1. You don’t read the news
  2. You haven’t heard of Angela Cuming

Initially, we were sure it was the former and not the latter, but as was later pointed out to us, we hadn’t heard of you either, so let’s call it even.

Anyway so, here’s the big news for Dunedin: Angela Cuming is leaving Hamilton and making her way down to your fair town, marking a huge loss for us and probably the greatest gain for Dunedin in the last decade.

We hope you’ve got the keys to the city out for a polish and that your townspeople are actively scouting empty wall space for a mural of the Brilliant Ms Cuming, because Dunedin is about to hit the big time for doing absolutely nothing.

We’re not dark about this, we promise. Ok, so we’re a little dark about this. But we’re not throwing shade at you. No – that’s reserved for our own Mayor/Supreme King who we feel is supremely responsible for not doing enough to keep our ridiculously talented people from leaving the city.

It’s a sad twist of irony that the day after the city announced its first woman-specific grant fund, that a woman who has perhaps done more for the city than most others in her cohort has to leave on account of not being able to afford to buy a home to house her, her husband and their three boys.

This is the same Angela Cuming who has tirelessly advocated for Hamilton and its people, even before it was cool to do so, and even before its own people were willing to drink that kool-aid.

This is the same Angela Cuming who helped make Hamilton cool by working tirelessly on behalf of the city for The Spinoff and the Hamilton Press Club.

This is the same Angela Cuming who – despite having to move to Ireland a few years ago – continued to be part of the #lovethetron village, raising her #MoolooBabies from afar, and who then returned to her beloved Hamilton stronger, wiser and even more in love.

This is the same Angela Cuming who took on the City Council that tried to stop the building of destination playgrounds and won. Thanks to her efforts, generations of Hamilton kids will have nice neighborhood places to grow up in.

This is the same Angela Cuming who -whether you agree with her point of view or not – has stood up to what she considers gross injustice, bullying and misogyny and forced change within what is perhaps one of the most male-dominated institutions in the city.

This is also the same Angela Cuming who does all of this while freelancing and being driven up the wall and to her wits’ end by raising three boys under the age of five (read about it here in a newly-released book she helped author).

Angela Cuming stands up for the little guy, and you – Dave Cull Mayor of Dunedin – are the little guy. Well not you, personally, but your city is. You’re behind Hamilton, and you’re behind Tauranga and you’re behind Palmerston North.

But while the Tron and Tauranga and Palmy have been eagerly scrambling to take on Auckland and Wellington’s multimillion dollar House Price Refugees indiscriminate of what they may have to offer the city, Dunedin’s strategy of Close the Cadbury Factory and Do Nothing Else seems to have certainly paid off. You’re getting the talent our city is overlooking.

We are devastated to lose Ange and we’re devastated about what this might say about the future of our city. The Aucklanders are pouring in, in their droves, occupying the vast suburbia that keeps being released by the council.

But how many Aucklanders does it take to match one Angela Cuming? We really couldn’t tell you.

We do have a hunch though that the kind of families with work-part-time, unbelievably-busy-mother-of-three-or-so-kids-under-the-age-of-five, where one or both of the parents contribute so wholeheartedly to a city may not be represented in the kind of family unit that can afford to buy and drive prices up in Hamilton.

We might be wrong – but it’s just a hunch.

Ideally, we’d love to feel like the Aucklanders are moving here because they have finally realised it’s actually better than Auckland, and not because it’s a place that they can afford that’s close to that dastardly city – but that’s another bone we’ll pick with El Supremo King.

We do fear, though, that with the city becoming less affordable for the Angela Cumings of Hamilton – what might we be left with?

Learn from this, Dave Cull Mayor of Dunedin. Find a way to keep the good ones around, even if it’s a little bit hard.

She’s not the hero you deserve, Dave Cull Mayor of Dunedin, but thanks to our own boo-boos here in Hamilton, Angela Cuming is the hero you need.

Give Angela the keys to your city, and we promise you’ll have her for life.

xoxo #lovethetron


Follow Angela Cuming on Twitter @angelacuming

Also Dave Cull Mayor of Dunedin is on Twitter but has not tweeted since 2014 when he tried to get in on the Gigatown thing so we don’t know if you should follow him.


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