Good idea Russell - I am more than happy to contribute. Keep up the good work!
I also felt, and feel, a sense of community through the NZ blog-asphora. Public Address in particular was an important means to stay in touch with the parts of NZ I enjoyed and missed the most. Eloquence, curiosity, intelligence, passion; it's all out there somewhere.
My thought on the negative sentiments expressed on Your View is that - like in many conversations - it helps to look beyond what the contributors say to infer what they are really saying.
Practically by definition, all of the contributors feel a real sense of connection to NZ. Otherwise they would not be spending time reading the NZ Herald website and posting their own thoughts. It seems to me that what is behind some of the less constructive or balanced thoughts is, as George said, frustration and a sense of loss. This can come across as anger, derision, even rejection. But it certainly does not make NZ a bad place to live. More on that anon...
I may be missing something here, but isn't there something highly ironic about your stance on universal student association membership, given your advocacy - in your previous post - of universal church membership, where you said as follows:
"And it just doesn't seem fair that we all benefit from their existence, but don't all contribute to them. The freeloaders in society – most of us, I fear – gain these substantial benefits but offer no assistance: I wonder if it isn't time for a little more universality. Given the role they play, why aren't all required to play their part?"
Unless that entire post was a carefully constructed satire, it seems you are playing on both sides of the fence.
Great post David. I agree - there is a lack of vision and sophistication evident in the PM's speech and, I think, evident in some (though by no means all) NZ businesses' approach to international trade and investment. As an international trade and investment lawyer, I can see that we are not making the most of the NZ-China and ASEAN FTAs - and others are on their way.
The answer is, as you say, better education and information. This could include documentaries, but better newspapers with useful world news would help. It is almost inevitable that a NZ business will be less sophisticated than a UK business if the latter reads the FT and the former reads the Dom Post.
The answer is also about ambition and interest. To succeed in foreign markets, you have want to be connected to a world larger than your own backyard. Sometimes the debate in NZ reveals too much inward focus (how to slice the existing pie into ever smaller pieces) and complacency (why things are just fine the way they are), and not enough outward interest and drive.
The introduction to the Report says "[w]e conclude that the Act should be repealed, and the process of balancing Māori property rights in the foreshore and seabed with public rights and expectati ons must begin again." Russell must be right: there is no reason to believe that a considered balancing process is going to be straighfoward or proceed with consensus. The repeal of the Act is surely good law. At the moment it also seems like good politics. But it is early days yet.
Just saw this: "Although Tom's phrasing was typically infelicitous, he did have a point. I think there's a danger of wasting time and energy fretting about whether you can do better -- which is perilously close to thinking that you are better than the place you're in. Sometimes, you need to just get on with it." Agree also.
All interesting comments; thanks.
Tom - always good to hear a dissenting voice. I don't entirely disagree. I too reckon patriotism is an underrated virtue and that NZ is a privileged country whose "people have and will achieve great things".
But your response seems inapposite to what I wrote, for two reasons. First, I don't think I said anything about NZ's attributes as a place to live (you appear to have read the words "brave" and "wise" out of context). I'm describing, as Stephen noted, the process of transition. Secondly, you've confused an account of my experience with an assertion of a moral position. The thing about experiences is that they are personal - you can hardly intelligently disagree with them.
Your advice to "harden up" is noted. I am sure I will do. But senses of belonging don't all come in one formula. Your forebears were pioneers who came here many generations ago. My father came here as a refugee in the 1950s. I suspect we are probably rather different people. And, while I respect your heritage, I don't think it - or the views it has passed down to you - gives you a monopoly on how a "real" New Zealander ought to think and act.
Hilary - yes, that column was written by my father (no doubt based on my middle class railing against poor insulation...).
Thanks all for your thoughts. I agree with Danielle that many Kiwis hide a wealth of life experience behind a fairly modest demeanour. I am intrigued by the discussion about communication. I am rather hoping that part of the answer is for me to drop the ego a little. My life obviously seems of interest to me, but my friends and colleagues here will have lived their own lives and done their own things in the time I was elsewhere, and the communication street runs two ways. I think most lives are fascinating if you listen at the right level.
On the other hand, it seems important to me to try to hold on to some of the new thoughts, interests and perspectives I have gained; and this probably requires resisting the pull to return to precisely where I left off. No doubt a harder balancing exercise than I presently realise.
I would also be more than happy to contribute to better quality NZ freelance journalism. This is a good idea, Russell. I hope there is a way to make it really work.
The Guardian on Saturday contained a much more measured account, including this interesting comment:
"Dr Jonathan Scourfield, senior lecturer at Cardiff University's school for social sciences, who has conducted research relating to suicides in Wales, said: 'Most suicides are complex. I think cultural and social beliefs are very influential factors. By that I mean if a relationship breaks down, or there is loss of employment, or terrible debts, suicide only becomes an appropriate response because it makes social sense. They have probably heard of other cases where people have killed themselves in those circumstances, so they think "well, that's what you do".
'That's where the copycat theory does have relevance - not that young people are goading each other on via websites - but in a broader sense. The more stories that appear about young people having killed themselves in your area, the more it might appear to you to be a reasonable response to a particular kind of crisis. It's about the culture of suicide.'
A police spokesman said: 'To date there is no evidence of a suicide pact and that theory did not come from the police. At this stage, we have not established any link that is common to all.'"