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Southland Monopoly verging on a sellout even before launch

If only life was a little more like the Southland Monopoly game, due for its official launch at Saturday’s Santa Parade.

Housing shortages? Not on this board.

If you’ve got the money and the property, then no worries.

When Southland’s three mayors had a crack at it recently, and one of his rivals landed on Te Anau, Southland District Mayor Rob Scott pleaded with him to build some houses while he was there.

Except, in this resolutely southern version, you’re not building houses. You’re building cribs.

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The icons are now all Southland but the dynamics of the game haven’t been tinkered with.

It remains so old-fashioned that there’s still no indication the banker’s making grotesque profits – and rich people can still go to jail.

But the Get Out of Jail Free card is now, of course, courtesy of the Invercargill Escape Rooms on Dee Street.

The Water Works utility is no more, but that’s not because of Three Waters, as Invercargill Mayor Nobby Clark openly suspected. Instead the utilities have become Southport and Invercargill Airport.

There was always going to be a difficulty for the Southland Business Chamber, which came up with the idea of negotiating a resolutely Southland version with the Hasbro manufacturers. Who gets grotty Old Kent Rd status?

Conflict artfully avoided. That first property is now Gore, but that’s not a reflection of value or prestige. Rather, location.

The game starts in that heartland town, says the chamber’s project and engagement manager Joanne O’Connor, and then follows the Southern Scenic Route.

So it’s location – not glamour – that sets the properties in place, moving from Gore to the Catlins, Invercargill, Bluff,, Stewart Island, then heading up Western Southland, Aparima, Tuatapere, the Hump Ridge Track to Te Anau, finishing – almost – at Milford Sound.

The two blue remaining properties are hotels, with the Langlands in the famous Mayfair position.

Community Chest cards are now devoted to the three community funders, the Invercargill and Mataura licensing trusts and Community Trust South, and the Chance cards are replete with references to southern businesses and attractions.

Example: You’ve performed a gig at the Tussock Country Music jFestival.Collect a $10 performance fee from every player.

Southland Business Chamber project and engagement manager Joanne O'Connor with Mr Monopoly - who presumably now rolls his Rs.

Kavinda Kerath/Stuff

Southland Business Chamber project and engagement manager Joanne O’Connor with Mr Monopoly – who presumably now rolls his Rs.

The railways stations are no more. (Feel free to talk among yourselves how fitting that is.) They’re replaced instead by southern industries – agriculture, manufacturing, food processing and energy.

And the wee silver tokens? Look closely and you’ll find the likes of Stabicraft, the Alliance farm gate, Invercargill water tower, and the Bluff signpost among them.

The popularity of the southern version has almost overtaken the chamber’s ambitions already. Of the 4000 games ordered, the pre-orders have swallowed up more than three quartersof them before the official launch at the Invercargill Santa parade on Saturday.

One thing the classic Monopoly game is not famous for is promoting family harmony and goodwill. C

hamber chief executive Sheree Carey cannot guarantee the Southland version won’t be tossed angrily from the table she’s optimistic it will more reliably foster friendly competition and perhaps some useful promotion and education, for young people, especially.

Mind you ”My husband and I played it for the first time on Saturday night and there were a few arguments.’’

What’s next? Surely a southern version of Cluedo might tantalise. Which Southlander murdered which other Southlanders where, and with what weapons? They might need to get back to us about that.

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