by Jo Knox
Keep this book in your car for your convenience. If you groaned at that, wait till you read all the toilet references in the Preface.
The author, Jo Knox, begins her Introduction “no other country does toilets like New Zealand does! And yet interesting toilets are possibly one of New Zealand’s best-kept secrets! Kiwi-as Toilets aims to start the ball rolling (or should that be ballcock rolling?!) in giving our country’s top toilets the recognition they deserve. Not only will Kiwi-as toilets guide you where to go when you need to go, these toilets are places you will want to go to when you don’t even need to!”
What follows is coverage of noteworthy loos she has viewed, from Kawakawa to Invercargill – 40 in North Island and 25 in South Island. Together, they show that even this most utilitarian of facilities can be a work of art.
Of course she begins in Kawakawa with the famous Hunterwasser masterpiece which no doubt inspired other places in the country to reboot their bogs. Sorry, it’s catching!
Lots, but not all, are quirky. For instance, Paihia’s “wee toilets” have toilet bowls adorning its roof, apparently serving as planters rather than for after-hours or climbers’ use; and just around the bay the “wharehoroi” in the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is gleaming in glass and concrete yet designed to blend with the surrounding bush.
The selected edifices are aflush with murals, together featuring local history, outdoor activities, scenery, motifs of native flowers and birds, or with toilet humour.
Most are public facilities, but to view/use some you’ll have to visit business premises – bars, cafés, restaurants particularly. The restrooms at White and Wong’s in Auckland’s Viaduct area rate a special mention – see the book for details – but the supreme award must go to the internationally recognized non-block design at The Redwoods, Whakarewarewa, Rotorua.
Tread gingerly when you’ve gotta go at Wanaka’s Puzzling World and, men, be prepared to aim for either Donald Trump or Stephen Jones at Cowboys in Queenstown.
Every page of Kiwi-As Toilets has colour photos to support the descriptions that give details on the artists and architects involved. Some of the names recur and one wonders if the CVs of these designers might be something of a toilet roll. Perhaps what impressed and astounded me most is the amount of money allocated to creating some of these designer dunnies.
If many of the loos are to be admired for their artistic merit, so is Kuljit Kaur's design of this book. Keep it in your glove-box for reference. There’re blank pages at the rear for adding to it when you come upon any notable examples that haven’t made it into this celebration of WCs.
Dare I suggest that the only thing it lacks is a few squares of toilet paper, just in case one of them lets you down.
Author: Jo Knox
Publisher: Kiwi-as Toilets co
Available: bookshops or http://kiwiastoilets.co.nz