Locals of Tokoroa have good cause to be pissed off with council’s unimaginative dunny decision

Kawakawa shows the way...

Kawakawa shows the way…

The good citizens of Tokaroa have been sadly let down by the drones who sit on the South Waikato District Council.

The council has decided to close the town’s ladies-only restroom on June 27.

Toilet attendant Margaret Gabolinscy will then be flushed into a somewhat premature retirement.

The Waikato Times has apprised its readers (and Alf) of this serious – and ill-considered – state of affairs.

For starters, the decision seems to be based on data that differs from Gabolinscy’s data, and she should know.

Councillors made the decision to close down the toilets after a review revealed that only 30 women used it each week.

But Gabolinscy disagrees.

“We were asked a few weeks back about how many people use the toilets . . . we said it had declined due to shop closures in the town but we didn’t say 30 people a week used it.

“We said between 30 and 35 people a day.”

This Gabolinscy sheila is being given a raw deal, it seems to Alf, because she took over the job more than 30 years ago from her mother, who worked at the loos for 13 years.

“I will be retiring now, but it is sad to see the loos go.

“It was a nice, safe environment for mothers, young children and the elderly.”

The council perhaps did not anticipate the response, or the Facebook post being set up on The Genuine Tokoroa Page about the closure.

Locals obviously think the council decision stinks.

Tokoroa local Sandi Simmonds wrote that the closure was “absolutely disgusting”.

Collette Cawood said the closure would be a “loss to our community”.

“To still have a couple of awesome ladies there literally putting up with our s… after 32 years shows it best when I tell my mokos about my beautiful town,” Cawood wrote.

But council spokesperson Kerry Fabrie has gone out to bat for her bosses, insisting the figures on the number of women using the toilets were correct and had come from the toilet staff.

This, obviously, is at odds with what the long-serving cleaner has to say and Alf is tempted not to give a toilet cleaner the brush-off on a matter like this.

Mind you, the good people of Tokoroa seem to have been consulted but did not rush to the defence of the loo.

The council had received only one submission in favour of keeping the toilet open during the recent Annual Plan consultation.

Alf remains unconvinced. He notes that…

This is not the first time the toilets were almost scrubbed out of existence; three years ago the council looked at closing the loos but locals wrote hundreds of submissions opposing it.

One thing going in favour of the council is the saving for ratepayers of $34,000 a year.

It would take more than a penny a day from each visitor – even if the numbers are 35 a day – to recoup that sum.

But Alf does think the council has been seriously unimaginative.

They should take their cue from Kawakawa, home to the most colourful and probably the most famous public dunnies (a his and hers) in New Zealand.

They were designed by Austrian artist and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who lived on the Waikare Inlet east of the Kawakawa from 1975 until his death in 2000.

The toilets feature inset glass and tiles, sculptures, a living tree, and a grass roof. They were built in 1988 with the help of the community.

The toilets were awarded the prestigious Golden Plunger award in a world wide search for the best public toilets as voted by the travelling public.

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Another splendid example of how to use a dunny to put a town on the map can be found in France.

Vaux-en-Beaujolais is a picture postcard hamlet set among some of the most beautiful vineyards in France.

It is better known as Clochemerle, the title of a very funny book about a very public public dunny.

“Clochemerle”, the novel by Gabriel Chevallier, is based on the village of Vaux- en-Beaujolais, where the author used to spend his holidays. This cosy little village firmly rooted in its terroir at the heart of the Beaujolais-Villages vineyards thus became the center of the literary myth.

The novel is said to have had the whole of France bursting out laughing back in 1934.

In this Rablaisian chronicle, Mayor Barthelemey Piechut organises the erection of a new “pissoir” (a gentlemen’s public convenience)in the centre of the small French village of Clochemerle.

As soon as it was published in 1934, Clochemerle was a huge success which has never faded since.

It is now a classic of comic literature . It has been translated into 17 languages and was made into a TV film by France 3.

It has even been adapted into an uproarious BBC television series.

A bit of imagination from the South Waikato councillors similarly could do great things for Tokoroa.

Most critically, the right decision has more to do with opening a toilet, not closing it.

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