Not for the first time, Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett has criticised the media for fuelling negative perceptions of the city.
Porirua’s true character was been ignored, he told an audience of the business community on Thursday.
Mr Leggett’s frustration must have gone into overdrive the next morning when news of a baby left behind after closing at a Porirua daycare centre became the water-cooler conversation of the day.
‘‘Only in Porirua’’ some would have said with a shake of the head. An unfair assessment of course but not an unlikely one from people outside our city, who may still think of mental health patients or stray kids roaming down at ‘‘the Cena’’ when pondering Porirua.
Mr Leggett is right, it doesn’t help every time a national television broadcaster reports the latest unemployment figures or obesity trends, we’re treated to stock footage of somebody stumbling about under the canopies.
Old connotations are hard to shake and easily reinforced. Growing up, my only perception of Porirua was from Sam Hunt’s downcast poem Porirua Friday Night. I had to work and live here before it shook.
But I’m less bothered by the news stories that reinforce Porirua’s bad name – we must own our problems after all – than I am by the positive ones that go unnoticed or misrepresented.
It’s apparently OK to be murdered or mismanaged in Porirua but as soon as you’re recognised for something successful, you’re from somewhere like Titahi Bay, ‘‘near Wellington’’.
The media is not the only culprit. Real estate agents regularly market Porirua properties avoiding the ‘‘P’’ word and, as much as I enjoyed the Eat, Drink & Be Crafty fair, get real folks, Pauatahanui is Porirua, not Wellington.