Fifty ways I love my Palmy

Much to be proud of in the city that gets things done

Judith Lacy





Will I be able to think of 50 things I love about Palmerston North? Here’s hoping, because that is the challenge I’ve set myself this week, to tie in with the Manawatu¯ Guardian’s 50th birthday. Let’s start with food. The pies at Double Shotz Cafe, fish and chips from Mr Seafood, creme brulee at Barista, scones from Courtyard Cafe, the spiciness of Namaste Bharat curries. Plus it’s not hard to find free food in the city — everything from Just Zilch, to Community Fruit Harvest Manawatu¯ , to roadside pantries and sharing shelves. There are also eateries that allow you to refill your water bottle for free. When it’s time to make a bit of room in the puku for the next meal, there are so many walkways my retirement to-do list is getting out of hand. It takes only a few plods and puffs and you can feel like you are no longer in the middle of suburbia. Plus, we built a bridge. Then there are the free books — from tiny libraries set up by community groups and individuals, to City Library, Hancock Community House and the practically free Red Cross offerings. The heritage section on level 2 of Central Library is soothing for the senses and you can even stroke the (concrete) cat. Even if you live nowhere near Awapuni, follow Awapuni Library on Facebook. It will bring a smile to your dial. We are learning to embrace our awa and haven’t completely given up on our built heritage. We’re the home of the country’s rugby museum and while the cricket museum isn’t here, it’s within an easy drive. Our museum, Te Manawa, has been giving you the chance to cuddle alpacas and our professional theatre, Centrepoint, is so accessible you can even park right outside. The city has more nicknames than my cat — everything from knowledge city to swamp city, rose city to Palmy. The weather gives you plenty to talk about and when it is calm you feel like you’ve been enveloped by a weighted blanket. There are people who have customer service in their DNA — Chet at Manawatu¯ Toyota, Steph at Hokowhitu Pharmacy and Fiona at Ballentynes Fashion Central spring to mind. Volunteering is alive and well, as is democracy, and people get things done in this city. We’re a university city with a range of other post-school learning institutes. We are a refugee resettlement centre and rightly pride ourselves on our diversity. It’s big enough that you can easily walk down the street and not see anyone you know, but also small enough that it doesn’t take long to find connections. I live in a small street but a colleague’s sister used to live in it as did an acquaintance’s beauty therapist. Hardly anyone puts on airs and graces, the Ruahine and Tararua ranges are ever-changing plus now have year-round Christmas lights. Central-city office dwellers can trot outside at lunchtime to eat in a massive park. Palmerston North is close to my tu¯ rangawaewae of Whanganui, it rarely snows and is unlikely to be hit by a tsunami. You can park your bike on a bikeshaped stand and have an exclusive turning-right party on the corner of Featherston and Ruahine streets. We have yarn bombing, street art and e-scooters. My cat lives here! Best of all, no one will care if I have listed exactly 50 things I love about Palmerston North, or fewer or more. But, today, what I love the most about Palmerston North is everyone who has helped me get our souvenir edition out this week. To everyone who has answered my many questions, and tolerated me ignoring them, thank you, thank you. And to historian Margaret Tennant, who wrote a piece on Palmerston North — you embody all that’s best about this city: generous, humble and caring.