A two minute Read.
Just back from a month’s visit to the Land of the Long white Cloud- New Zealand.
It has been over a quarter of a century since my last visit which then included South Island unlike this trip spent exclusively in North Island.
Over four hundred years before Christopher Columbus and the rest of Europe worried about falling off the edge of the world; Maori people voyaged thousands of miles across the vast unknown Pacific Ocean in small ocean-going canoes and became the first inhabitants of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Unfortunately they sold it for a few glass beads.
To this day, even though there is not one true Maori left their culture is a core part of New Zealand’s national identity.
New Zealand has become a melting-pot population, all living within a Maori Reservation as New Zealand’s coast line is now claimed by the Maori along with all the air above.
Since before Sir Ernest Rutherford ‘split’ the atom early in the twentieth century, Kiwis have been discovering and inventing things.
While frozen meat, the Hamilton Jet boat, and the bungy jump are probably the most famous Kiwi inventions, there are many others. New Zealanders are also responsible for the tranquilliser gun, seismic ‘base’ isolators (rubber and lead blocks which minimise earthquake damage), electric fences, the fastest motorbike in the world, freezer vacuum pumps, stamp vending machines, wide-toothed shearing combs, and the electronic petrol pump – to name a few!
Not to mention the All Blacks the scourge of Northern hemisphere rugby with their secret line out call of throw it in Bro.
They also continue to dominate on the world yachting, kayaking, windsurfing and rowing scene.
Mateship’ — become a prized social value.
To New Zealanders, their big brother across the Tasman Sea in Australia was always brash and exciting. The Kiwis have traditionally flocked west in vast numbers lured by well-paid jobs not so these days. New Zealand has the second-largest diaspora in the world, with well over a million Kiwis living offshore.
For those of you who might be thinking of dropping in on New Zealand there are a few of my unscientific observations.
You’ll get an idea of how carefully they protect their environment from the strict biosecurity restrictions on what you can bring in to New Zealand when you land at the airport.
So, what can you expect?
Well, if you’ve seen The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Narnia Chronicles or The Piano, you’ll have an idea: soaring mountainscapes, mysterious lakes and rivers, dramatic volcanic plateaus, vast open plains, braided rivers, thermal wonderlands, fiords, native forests, glaciers, miles of farmland and even more miles of glorious coastline with gorgeous sandy beaches…. all that sort of thing.
However driving around the North Island at a speed limit of 100k it is polluted by unnecessary traffic signs and billboards by the thousands with Fast food outlets every 50k.
Has much changed ?
After two years, $17 million, and more than 10,000 design submissions, voters kept the old flag.
Here above were a few of the contenders. My favorite is the Kiwi with the rainbow out of its arse which perhaps on reflection should be a sheep.
New Zealand remains a country where you are asked a thousand times a day if you like the country. Why? because it’s a form of reassurance or if you like a frantic exercise of national belly- button studying.
When I say not much has changed I am overlooking the fact that Auckland is in the process of expansion not upwards but along the coast causing massive tailbacks in and out of the city due to long overdue road works.
Geographically, over three-quarters of the population live in the North Island, with one-third of the total population living in Auckland. At the heart of the Kiwi recovery is the construction boom in Auckland and post-earthquake in Christchurch.
As a result for the moment it is some what hypocritical of New Zealand to present itself as a pristine country that sprays its arrivals with an unknown substance before landing.
Not to worry as New Zealand to-day is a land without the true sense of leisure or sense of the ridiculous.
Show biz hardly exist outside a few pop groups. Restaurants are poor by oversee standards, bars and pubs have lost their pioneering ambiance and are now lost as social centers.
The home is the focus of the nation’s life. They’re so expensive they don’t want to leave them. They are the Kiwi Mistress not his Castle. The price of housing (which remains for the best part a version of upmarket chantie houses constructed of wood with galvanized roofs) is outrageous.
The country is a vast network of obligations and owed visits.
An x Vietnam veteran summed up the process of assimilation into the New Zealand culture when he informed me it was as simple as studying the phone book for five days.
Verbal communication is still some what a luxury. This is a physical country and words neither do things or mend cars. The good New Zilder speaks like a ventriloquist with out a dummy. They never use two syllables where one will do.
Kiwis that is young one seem to be in a state of relentless movement. They are hard works for themselves but spend the rest of the week recovering while in the office. Indeed if there were holdings pins at the entrance to heaven the Kiwi pin would be full of on the spot Joggers.
In the five and a half week of extensively exploring north Island world politics or for that matter home politics was rarely discussed.
It seems that politics is best compared with the septic tank. Septic tanks have an tradition: they are plumbed in with the house. They have no elegance and on wit, thought you may get the occasional gurgle. You don’t talk much about septic tanks. They burble along nicely with a triennial overhaul. Yet they do serve a certain purpose.
With the Mäori population projected to grow to 810,000 or 16.2 per cent of the population by 2026,a nation is not a true nation if it is not accepted and realised as one.
The Treaty of Waitangi is the founding document of New Zealand and there are legislative mechanisms in place to protect the principles of the Treaty and the rights of Mäori as Indigenous people. New Zealand’s history since the signing of the Treaty has been marked by repeated failures to honour these founding promises.
In practice, the level of recognition and protection varies. In my view it is vitally important to the future of New Zealand that all groups in the community engage with the Treaty.
Watch this Space.
Not to be disingenuous New Zealand still remain the closest to paradise as any non Catholic nation is allowed to go. A multitude of minor pleasures if only they could stop the rush to change New Zealand. The trinity of the Dairy Board, the Meat Board and the Wool Board is long dead.
There is no doubt we leave something of ourselves behind when you visit new Zealand. We stay there even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.
Selfies is not the way to build a nation.
New Zealand is still as near to a people’s paradise as fallible humanity. It is likely to get even more some if its Air hostess are given early retirement.