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Wellington stops on Christmas Day. The city is still, with Lambton Quay, the main shopping mall, a mecca only for four skateborders. All that's lacking is the odd tumbleweed floating by.
   Just as well New Zealand teenagers haven't graduated from skateboards to hotwiring Escort Cosworths.
   It's hard to believe. Here is an OECD western nation with a deserted capital a week away from 2000, when tourists and media flock to the country which will see the new dawn first.
   A lot of people say that New Zealand's like the midwest 35 years ago. Maybe they're right: a safe nation, relatively good security, predominantly primary-products-based, and people spend time with their friends and families on Christmas Day. Democracy meant people voted in a government that vowed to increase taxes for the national well-being. No one bats an eyelid if the usual "open (almost) all hours" places are closed: even KFC's Kent Terrace branch was closed on the two occasions we visited, despite advertising at other stores proclaiming it open.
   Even chickens don't get minced and fried on Christmas Day. Just barbecued in back yards and served with Steinlager.
   All that disturbs the tranquillity of the business district are raindrops, unseasonal as they are. And us, remarking how much busier the city has become since similar shots were taken in 1996. See the cars parked on the Terrace? They didn't drive themselves there. The first signs of a bustling metropolis.

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The Terrace, Wellington
Toward the Railway Station, Wellington

The Terrace, Wellington

Top The Terrace, Wellington's business district. Above Looking toward the Railway Station. Are the only people who can afford to park civil servants? Left The Terrace, looking south. Some cars can be seen in the distance.

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