New Zealand with a Kiwi accent
After spending the better half of the year living out of our backpacks, wrestling with constant change and becoming experts in balancing endlessly erratic showers it was time to hang up the rubber soles for a bit. Noo zullin. A place my parents have chosen to adopt as their new home. A place defined by peace and tranquility. Where every person stops and has a chat about whatever might be on their minds. A place so socially and economically perfect it’s hard to knock anything about it.
Except that’s exactly the thing that makes it difficult to call this our new home. New Zealand lacks a flare, a spice, a bit of razzmatazz. It’s the margarita pizza. The vanilla milkshake. All perfectly adequate but not the Thai green curry. It’s Utopia with its vast outdoor areas, extensive sustainability policies and favourable person per square kilometre number but we felt it we needed more. A bit of economic instability, a place that doesn’t require a minimum of 6 hours to travel anywhere. Funnily every New Zealander I meet oversees all say the same thing. Often they migrate overseas for a bit to cut their teeth in Europe, Australia or Canada before returning to the land of the long cloud. However on such an occasion it was needed. A bit of time for R&R. A time to catch up with the parents and share all the adventures we had been on. Coming through the gate we saw them, beaming from ear to ear. A feeling of elation overcame our weary bones (we had travelled for a total of 30 hours, after having to wait in Santiago – yet again). After many a hug and a kiss we set off for my parents house in Devonport. The clock had just struck 6 o’clock but our bodies thought we were going on 2 o’clock. We arrived to a fresh pile of towels, clean duvets and plump pillows. Gosh we needed this!
After resting and attempting to get over jet lag we set about looking into things to do. First point of order: a free walking tour. New Zealand was discovered by Mnr Abel Tasman in December 13, 1642. An astute Dutch man who set about exploring the great Polynesian triangle. However, upon laying his eyes on the ‘newfoundland’ a horn was heard. Not wanting to miss out on such festivities he blew his own loud and triumphantly. The locals aka the Maori received this as a threat and subsequently and ferociously rode out on their waka boats to meet this strange masted ship. Abel sent out his best men to have a bit of a meet and greet. Unfortunately it resulted in their own demise. Nee fok man shouted Mnr Tasman and high tailed it out of there. Many years later James cook arrived with a translator and managed to negotiate with the local Maori tribes.
After getting the western version of events it was time to understand the Maori in greater detail. Where they came from, how they got there and why they were able to repel most of histories colonisers. It’s believed that Polynesian tribes originated from parts of Malaysia. They were great sea navigators, using the stars, winds and bird formations to guide them to their new found lands. They settled far and wide, oftentimes on islands not big enough to sustain huge amounts of population growth (Easter Island, papua new guinea , Hawaii, etc). New Zealand on the other hand offered soil that was rich and fertile. It offered birds the size of small trucks and (most importantly) offered enough land for long periods of sustained population growth. This, combined with a temperate climate, provided the perfect conditions for a civilisation to flourish and grow into complex social hierarchies and structures. Unfortunately, as colonisers started to trade with the local populations, violence ensued. The local chiefs had the foresight to see how powerful the colonisers technology could be, and thus decided it was best to trade then engage in an all out war. Thus the birth of the Treaty of Waitangi. An agreement was struck between the crown and 500 Māori chiefs. There is still much contention over the translation of the treaty (as the Māori translation differs greatly from the english one). However, it still paved the way for better integration and marginally better rights for all. Today, the Maori are fiercely proud of their culture and go along way to protecting their sacred lands
The rest of the time we spent catching up with ourselves, hiking Rangitoto Island, visiting the Auckland Zoo to see the elusive kiwi bird, eating our hearts out on delicious breakfasts lunches and dinners. Making sure we had our fair share of first world amenities before heading back to the Americas. Next stop Peru!