Boat and Land

December 10, 2005 – 7:00 pm

I’m reading Russell Brown’s collection of other people’s essays, Great
New Zealand Argument
, and at the same time I’m reading The
by Brian Easton. Both tackle the subject of what
it means to be a New Zealander. I’m reading them in bite size pieces:
Easton’s in the bedroom and Brown’s in the bathroom. Uh, so to

They’re fascinating. Lots of things I’d never thought about, such
as the fact that we’re the only country where our national day is
always (and has been since the beginning) an occasion to question why
we even have a national day, whether it means anything, what we might
do instead, and what we’d celebrate if we had such a day. And also
things I’d always wanted to know, like who Bill Sutch was.

The coolest thing so far has been realizing that I’m a Kiwi. Time
and time again, when Kiwis are polled for what they think defines
them, “the land” comes up again and again. Five generations of my
family have been where we now live, and the place resonates. But
beyond the immediate homestead, the country itself–one reason we
continually ask visitors “so, what d’ya think of New Zealand?” (and
have done so since visitors first started coming to NZ) is because
we’re feeling out whether they have this bond too.

Russell’s book also quotes from an early visitor to NZ saying that
the people were self-reliant, assertively democratic, but with
absolutely no introspection about how they came to be that way.
“No abstract thought,” is how it was put, I believe. We take problems
as they come, but don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the deeper
political or philosophical matters. Of course, anyone who can
emphathize with a lack of abstract thought in those terms is probably
pretty capable of abstract thinking, but never mind the details

I went out on the boat with Dad today, from about 7:30 to 4:30. We
sailed and motored out to Little Barrier, half-heartedly attempting to
fish. We were looking for gannets diving, as it shows where the
schools of fish are, but it must have been a lean lazy for the
gannets–it was for us! We fished from Little Barrier, but caught
only little snapper that we threw back. Then we sailed and motored
home. Things like this are why I moved back. As Dad said, a day on
the boat helps you detox from stress and work.

Now I’m sunburnt and my world is still tilting even though I’m back
on dry land. I need something to detox from that πŸ™‚

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