As this country battens down the hatches, preparing for the extreme weather event that Cyclone Gita may deliver today, it is very grey out my window. Well, grey and green really as I look at a green backdrop of trees and shrubs and a grey sky. Were I living in the city – pretty much any New Zealand city these days – the landcape would be an unrelieved view of grey sky, stormy dark seas, and real estate grey, interspersed with charcoal and taupe.
What is worse, to my mind, is that while New Zealand’s obsession with grey has been driven by the real estate sector and the holy grail of resale value, I have heard whispers that council planning officers are now entrenching it into practice by requiring certain new building projects be what is now described as ‘colour neutral’ – translated as shades of grey. I fear for the future. Real estate agents will nail their colours to the mast of whatever sells but council officers are more inclined to dig their toes in and entrench the new absence of colour as ‘best practice’. We may face a dreary future. The cheerful red roofs of New Zealand’s past may be an historical memory at best.
But look, just look at the joy of a mishmash of colours in Italy. Doesn’t it make you want to smile? Have you ever gone into a modern New Zealand suburb or even looked out an aeroplane window at suburbia as you flew in to land and smiled at the colour lifting your spirits? No, I didn’t think so.