Living under water

Today I stumbled across this short email exchange that I had a few years ago at work. In the council’s communication office we often get sent the queries that don’t fit into any obvious basket. I was forwarded this email from a “Rom 1” student. I really liked his question and, reading it again, I rather like my reply too.


Sent: Wednesday, 19 November 2008 2:36 p.m.
To: “”
Subject: Attention Town Planning – Tauranga’s Future

Dear Sir

I am Ben and I come from Tauranga Primary. I am writing to you to find if you have any ideas about what Tauranga may look like 500 years from now. Do you think we will be under water or live up in the air? Do you think we would have to live in domes with artificial air because we have polluted of ours. I would be interested in your ideas

Yours faithfully

Rom 1 Tauranga Primary School


From: Marcel Currin
Sent: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 4:28 PM
Subject: RE: Attention Town Planning – Tauranga’s Future

Hi Ben

Thanks for your question. It’s a tricky one. 500 years is a long time. Here at Tauranga City Council we have 10 year plans and 50 year plans. We don’t really have anything that plans for 500 years.

Our challenge is to make sure that 500 years from now Tauranga is still a beautiful place to live. One way we do that at Council is to put little metal dolphins on the drains in the city streets. It’s a simple thing we do to remind people that the drain is for rainwater, not chemicals like soap suds or old paint. The drains go straight into the harbour and we want to protect it for people to enjoy in the future.

Another thing we do is buy land for parks. As the city grows we need to make sure that there will be enough greenery so that it is not just filled with streets and buildings. We are about to build a sewage pipeline that will last 100 years.

There is a lot of planning needed to keep a city running and healthy and beautiful. Hopefully the people who come after us will keep making sensible decisions, or even BETTER decisions, so that Tauranga stays a great place to live for many more years.

Whatever life is like in 500 years I think you can safely predict the following things:

There will still be wonderful people who try to make the world a better place.
There will still be greedy people who only care about themselves.
There will still be adventurous people who want to have fun and enjoy the environment.
There will still be careless people who keep making things worse.

I certainly hope we won’t have polluted the air so much that we have to live in artificial domes. And I hope the waves are still good for surfing in 500 years!


Marcel Currin
Communication Advisor
Tauranga City Council