Guest Post: Happy being a Kiwi or New Zealander

When we first moved to our present home we found we had three quite different neighbours.  Jack, on the right is retired, a widower who was carpenter (“been in construction all my life”) and even worked on the Benmore hydro project as 15 year old.  A good all round guy, easy to get along with and would get out of his socks for you.  He mows our lawns where we are away and gets regular cooking sent across by the Mrs.

On the other side is a couple who keep pretty much to themselves.  He has an office job and she works part time.  They are pleasant enough but just aren’t our sort of people.  Different religion, different interests and seem content not to be engaged over the fence unless necessary.  We get along fine when we do engage.

Down the back is quite different.  Not even sure how many people in the house.  Heavy smokers, lots of tats, regular noisy parties, several dogs that look and act as though they could rip your leg off and we simply are glad its a solid, high fence between us.  It’s not a case of “no speaks”.  When there was a problem with water getting into our backyard from their property we worked together comfortably for several weekends and got it fixed.

You could say we are a little protective of what we have.

We all belong to a relatively small community focused on the school and local shop.  Its a distinctive suburb and its developing a reputation as great place to live.  Most of us are quite proud of the place, support local events and identify by our suburb name.

You could say we are a little protective of what we have.

Being Aucklanders we have our fair share or more of agonies and gripes but we actually have a heap of things we appreciate about the city.  There are great eating and drinking places, fantastic beaches, good shopping with a ton of choices, plenty of sport and great culture with variety the key.  It sure isn’t perfect but having been to over 60 different countries and their cities we are always glad to come home flying in over Whitford and look down on the amazing harbours, the bridge and the skytower.

You could say we are a little protective of what we have.    

Most all its being a Kiwi that counts. It is a combination of all those things that make our country special and different – our laid back, easy going approach to life, the involvement with the great outdoors and distinguishing scenery, our fantastic farmers, the safety and security, our freedom, the love of rugby, indeed all sports, our friendliness and can do attitude even the punching above our weight.  Nothing too unique but a pleasant combination especially when you throw in an amazingly equable climate.  I love this country and love living here and seeing my family grow up in what is a slice of paradise and land of open opportunities.

You could say we are a little protective of what we have.

But it’s more than that.  It is not just what we have but who we are.  Our Maori history and culture, our English conservative heritage, laws and refinements Judeao-Christian ethics and latterly influence and flamboyance from Asia and beyond has welded together something very special.  I love Diwali, the Thai restaurant along the street, out South African friends with their unmistakable twang, my Chinese made gadgets, and I appreciate the odd visit to a Polynesian market and a drink with a couple of hard case Maori truckies who frequent the same watering hole or our involving Maori protocols on special occasions.

It is because we are building a nation that we all subscribe to and uphold.  My Indian doctor is as proud of Baz MacCullum as I am.  The young Philippino farmworkers on my mate’s dairy farm in Canterbury talk of Fonterra as their company.   The Zimbabwean couple sitting behind me recently sang both language versions of God Defend New Zealand as well as we did.  My Chinese business partner who wants to improve trade with China for New Zealand’s benefit as much as his own.

Call it pride or even a dash of patriotism but I will stick up for us Kiwis and our way of life any old day.

The question is, is it “nationalism” and if it is does that make it a negative?  According to the elite, those pushing for a global nation, a world without borders, no holds barred immigration it most certainly is a bad thing. Heather du Plessis-Allan’s recent article was such a nonsense it was bizarre.  Try to extrapolate “nationalism” from a 12 year old’s comment to a protester indicates she hasn’t got enough to write about.

I like Lawrence Summer’s idea.  He was the former Treasury Secretary in the USA.  He described it as “a responsible nationalism” which recognizes government’s responsibility “to maximize the welfare of its own citizens, not to pursue some abstract concept of the global good.”

Or social psychologist Jonathan Haidt who wrote “having a shared sense of identity, norms and history – that is nationalism – generally promotes trust”.  Further he said, “nationalists feel a bond with their own country and they believe this bond imposes obligations both ways.  Citizens have a duty to love and serve their own country and the state has a duty to protect their own people”.

We rally around some commonality.  The shared values and aspirations we identify we want to preserve.  They are of sufficient worth to hang on to and safeguard.  Too many new neighbours, new Aucklanders, new citizens who have radically different agendas, different lifestyle, different dreams, different culture and who are not willing to adapt, embrace and genuinely change to recognise what is already here, are simply unwelcome.  They have their patch and I am not going to that patch with an expectation of changing them or have them absorb my values. And vice versa.

The highest responsibility of any government is the protection of its people.  I want our government to do better.  Protect us from threats that are real and being played out among countries that have dropped their guard at the border.

You could say we are a little protective of what we have.


-Name withheld by request

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