Hole in the Rock – Bay of Islands
Whatever it was that brought me here I finally came to see this whole country and its people for myself and not rely on a vision encapsulated by a (albeit very good) series of movies. One of the main reasons is that New Zealand itself has finally awoken from defining itself in terms of the LOTR movies and is now returning to some semblance of normality in regards to its own identity. Indeed the LOTR tours and attractions have retreated firmly into their geek/AD&D and high-brow literary roots and everyone seems all the happier for it. The movie makers have returned the countryside to its original form and apart from a few smaller operations the whole “scene” is over.
Just in time for “The Hobbit” to start it all up again of course.
As a country in the political sense New Zealand also has much to offer the refugee from Europe. It has told America to bugger off for starters by denying them the right to have warships in their waters and thumbing their nose at the USA even when Uncle Sam subsequently threw them out of the southern version of NATO (ANZUS) and said that New Zealand was “a friend, but not an ally. It has also relented from totally destroyed its natives; the Maori. The Maori may not have the full rights yet, which they undoubtedly deserve, but they are not getting anything like the raw deal being handed out to the Australian Aborigines’. My feeling on this is that it is due to the Maoris being a fairly up-to-date society/tribe and therefore much better placed to integrate into modern western style society. The poor natives of Australia simply cannot integrate and at the same time keep their 40,000 year old societal structure intact (something Cesca and I have discussed at great length).
Further to all this is the feeling of being home. Kiwis may be more like the hardy South Africans in terms of their work ethic, but their country has the indelible thumb print of Britain on its structure. Road and town names hint at a deep fundamental connection with my home island and, for example, we have been found driving out of the town of “Epping”, towards “Brighton”, clutching maps of “Chingford” and surrounded by Scottish architecture. This deep connection is also in the people who – to a man and women – love the country, loath politicians and basically want to live in peace. All precepts you will find in the hearts of those dwelling in England.
Of all the “children” born by Britain’s empire, all the ones I have visited thus far of course, I sense that the Kiwis don’t hate England in the way the Australians do, nor have they grown into something else all together like the American’s. Rather they are quite comfortable, on the whole, to be part of the Commonwealth and rightly feel that they gain many benefits from inclusion while avoiding many of the downsides by virtue of their far distance from their birth-mother.
As you can tell, in my short time here, I have come to respect the people of this land a lot.