Nobody had been stampeding to settle in Invercargill – but did you know shifting there might kill you?

No, not Siberia ... it's Invercargill's Eastern  Cemetery where Stewart Islanders prematurely finish up.

No, not Siberia … it’s Invercargill’s Eastern Cemetery where Stewart Islanders prematurely finish up.

The Grumbles have never contemplated retiring to anywhere but good old Eketahuna.

If they were to move, it would be to somewhere more agreeable than Invercargill, which finished up at the bottom of a very long list the Grumbles prepared last night (it included Baghdad, Damascus and Aleppo).

Their aversion to heading for Inverargill has been fortified by a dismaying revelation about what happens to people who do move there, presumably because of desperation.

Elderly Stewart Islanders forced to retire in Invercargill often die soon after the move, Southland District councillor Bruce Ford says.

Ford has battled to establish a community housing development on the island for years in an effort to keep retirees on the island.

“They end up going to Invercargill … and they turn their toes up,” he said.

Sometimes they went to Invercargill for treatment if they became unwell or had an injury, but were unable to return to the family home, so were forced to stay on the mainland, he said. “They don’t last long.”

Stewart Islanders who were moved off the island became dislocated from their way of life, removed from their community and friends and family, this Ford feller maintains.

“They don’t go off easily.”

Obviously anybody who moves from wherever they now live will become dislocated from their way of life, removed from their community and friends…and so on.

Hence nobody should move to Invercargill if they wish to live to a ripe old age.

According to Ford’s figures, about 400 people live on the island, and about a quarter of them are over 60.

The project he is championing would not be a fulltime care facility. It would be an option nevertheless for people who were still self-sufficient but unable to financially or physically maintain their large family homes or properties.

Elderly people on the island are reported to have responded positively to the proposal.

Alf wonders if this is because they somehow think Invercargill is the only alternative.

Someone should point out to them that there are several cities and towns in the South Island, other than Invercargill and all much more agreeable for a contented lifestyle.

And perhaps they are so sheltered down there that they are unaware there is a North Island, where there are many more agreeable towns and cities.

This includes Auckland.

Alf has never rated Auckland too highly, of course, but he is bound to concede it a bit higher on his list than Baghdad, Damascus and Aleppo.

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