I am in New Zealand on a business trip. It is 7.45pm and I have finally finished tapping out a few work emails in my comfortable Auckland CBD hotel room. Upon reflection, I would say that our neighbours across the Tasman Sea impress me much. Here are some of my thoughts about our nearby mates from the land of the long white cloud:
1/ They are a bloody friendly bunch, much more-so than us Aussies. They seem less harsh in their mannerisms and generally more helpful.
2/ Many of their shopping centre carparks have double lines so there is a gap to enable you to open your door without worrying about hitting the car next to you. We have more land than them so we have no excuse for not following their brilliance and ingenuity in this regard.
3/ I just saw an ad on TV telling people to sneeze into their elbow crease rather than into their hand. Very practical! Aussies take note, we would spread less germs and sickness by implementing this idea, but then I suppose there would be less excuses to call a “sickie” on Monday mornings.
4/ They seem to have integrated European and Maori culture much better than we have done with Aboriginal civilisation in Australia. The Haka at sporting events is a case in point. This is also apparent by the many business meetings I’ve had with a substantial Maori representation in middle and senior management. Unfortunately it is rare to see indigenous Aboriginal representation in corporate Australia.
5/ Maori people are strong but affectionate. Consider the hongi greeting. It is a traditional welcome expressed by the rubbing or touching of noses, something akin to the amiable French custom of double cheek kissing. It is much more intimate than the European, Aussie, U.S. and British (Western) custom of shaking hands (which originated by making sure the other person did not have a sword in their hand). It is probably more hygienic too, since we don’t wipe our bums with our nose. Sure, I know not everyone does it, (except maybe Prince Harry on his recent visit), but compare the hongi with the aggressive looking haka. It is like the stark contrast between the aggressive and tortured protagonist in Phantom Of The Opera and the sweet and beautiful Christine Daaé . Such a beautiful blend… I think you get the idea.
6/ Many New Zealanders are very practically minded and seem to have common sense smarts. They are resourceful and technically minded, many have superb mechanical aptitude – this is a good thing. Being so distanced from the rest of the world, I would say this has probably been born out of necessity. Watch the movie “The Worlds Fastest Indian” with Anthony Hopkins playing Bert Munro and you will see what I am talking about. Not sure that peeing on lemon trees will do them any good though.
7/ They have good wine, food and coffee. What more could a person want? Did I say good coffee? I should have said excellent coffee, and the food and wine is to die for.
8/ They make better movies than us… well at least my children think so, Lord of The Rings a case in point. I can’t remember the last Blockbuster made in Australia…. and their comedians? Well let’s just admit upfront that Flight of the Conchords is way funnier than Paul Hogan and even Adam Hills.
9/ The South Island is one of the most beautiful places to explore and visit in the whole entire world. My partner and I explored that wonderful paradise a few years ago, it was amazing and totally sublime. If it is not on your bucket list then it most certainly should be.
10/ I love how Maori New Zealanders call me “brother”. This resonates with my inner knowing of the oneness of all humankind.
11/ New Zealanders seem to have a stronger sense of social responsibility and accept minorities better than Australians and the rest of the world. In 1838 they became the first country to extend the vote to women. Then in 2013 same sex marriage became legalised.
Humankind can learn much from New Zealand. Let us observe their ways and follow their good example. I strongly believe that doing so will make the world a much more compassionate and accepting place to live.