Friday, 5 February 2010

A slice of NZ summer

Cherries, you can actually get too much of a good thing, my tum is telling me this today. One of the reasons I was keen to come to NZ in February is the summer fruit. Cherries, apricots, nectarines yum. I bought a big bag of cherries yesterday and have scoffed most of them myself, without breathing, well while actually inhaling their sweet crispness which is so much better than breathing. The apricots are OK, not at all like the ones from the old tree in the orchard. Same with the nectarines but the cherries, the taste of sunshine.

Tomorrow is Waitangi Day, our national day. As always there is controversy, beat up by the media to sell papers and feed the righteous indignation of those who like it to be fed. Sitting in the quiet courtyard of Muzz's city apartment enjoying the early evening peace, I overheard his neighbours discussing Waitangi Day with this same self righteous indignation. I heard such ignorance, such racial slurs that I felt embarrassed, incensed. Ashamed to be part of this place, worried for the future.

I did hear a younger person reflectively deflecting some of the more outrageous comments. I did feel that I should poke my head over the fence to support her, I was very tempted but I was eavesdropping and I'm a guest in this enclave of dwellings so I sent her positive vibes instead. I turned the news on to check out what's been happening today and what should I hear but more of the same, sensationalising and stirring up of passions on topics around our national day.

While I knew this happened every year, during the time of the summer fruit and the kids going back to school after the long summer holidays, I suspect I had consigned it to my history. I've been away for the last few Waitangi Days and didn't expect to be here for this one either. I feel really sad reflecting on this when I've seen how others around the world celebrate their national days with parades, cars decorated with flags, fireworks, celebrations and preparations leading up to the big day. Everyone involved, proud to belong to that place even the smallest children from the safety of their fathers shoulders waving their flags. A happy day of pride and community spirit.

Is it a coming of age for Aotearoa to get to the place where we can all celebrate our day peacefully, without controversy? Or is it an indictment on our beautiful country that while there are 4 million people living here, there are estimated to be a further 1 million living in other parts of the world. As the StatisticsNZ website states: There is also the difficulty in defining our diaspora. Are the children and spouses of New Zealand-born included, for example? Yes, of course. The statistics seem out of date, from the 2001 census. I've heard the urban myth of over 2 million kiwis living outside Godzown. Why is this? It might be something to research, if anyone has I'd be interested to know.

On the plane back I met up with some of the many New Zealanders who live in Al Ain. Standing in queues and waiting for bags we smiled at each other, chatting in our jet lagged states. Excited to be seeing family. Talking to some a week later, they are looking forward to getting back to their other homes, to their lives where there are less demands placed on them than in their home country. We will catch up when we're home, probably on the same plane, sharing rides back to our other lives, at social gatherings.

Nick has an alarming amount of farewell parties to attend at the moment, friends heading off to further their careers in other parts of the world, our employed, bright young adults heading away to increase the cultural capital of another country, mostly the UK. They are joining other friends there, the estimated 50,000 in the UK swelling daily. The girl over the fence last night was sharing her visa stories, she's heading away too, very soon and I wish her well.

I hope some of these bright young ones come home someday, I know Kez won't in a hurry. He's settled in his own home in Brisbane with Sasi. Happy and settled achieving a dream I'm not sure would be possible for him in NZ. Student loans prevent some from ever returning, interest on their debt spiraling these out of control. This needs further investigation, may be a subject for a whole entry soon, a sharing of stories from those who are directly affected by this sorry state of affairs. It's certainly worthy of reporting given some of the stories I've heard lately, stories that make me believe there needs to be an urgent law change.

Well, a slice of NZ summer has turned into a rant, possibly inspired by a sleepless night and reading a very interesting book, part of the reason for a sleepless night. I'll review that here soon. For now I need to get ready. I'm meeting Sarah for lunch, it's a bit of a walk to her place so best get moving. I do miss my little red car sometimes although walking has it's advantages as I call in to see others on the way to where I'm going. Just for a rest mind.

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