Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A question of pride?

I have been prompted on two occasions to write a piece on pride with a wide time gap between each. The question that I find myself posing after both 'events' is, if actions speak louder than words, do New Zealanders feel any pride for their country, or even their regions? The words say "yes" the actions seem to say "not really, perhaps if it doesn't cost too much, or if it doesn't interfere with my day off".

The first event that triggered this question occurred because I completely accidentally managed to schedule myself a long weekend in Sydney that also happened to be Australia Day. What a shock! If you have no doubt that New Zealander's have pride in their nation then go to Australia on Australia Day, any reasonable person would then doubt the sincerity of our actions. Does New Zealand even have a national day? I assume Waitangi Day is it but on this day some people apologise effusively and most people sneak off to the beach.

Now going to the beach is a very New Zealand thing to do but what differentiates going to the beach on New Zealand Day (whatever that is) from any other day? Masses flag waving amid music and beach theatre so infectious that all the tourists start waving the New Zealand flag? Because that's what happens in the land of Aus. Heck, back in my accidental Aussie Day I had to restrain my hand to prevent it from accepting an Australian flag to wave because it did look like fun - to take pride in an event that celebrated a nation's identity. I mean give me a break, I had never experienced that before!

Are we even allowed to smile on Waitangi Day? I'm not sure.

The second event was at a Blues game. The fact that it was a Blues game wasn't important, it could have been the Chiefs (I can say for sure) or even an All Black's game (although, to be fair, every now and then they do pep up the All Black pre-game a bit). The example was the Blues' 'cheerleaders'. Now I am not casting aspersions on the young ladies or their choreographers. They are talented and lovely dancers, but that is the point. They are dancers. They are not cheerleaders. Now I know New Zealand crowds are hard to warm up. If we can't smile on New Zealand Day (whenever that is) then smiling at the rugby is probably frowned upon as well, but come on. Are we proud of our teams, towns, cities, regions and country or aren't we? We say we are but our actions seem to say something else. Where is the pomp, the excitement, the cheer?

And, while we're at it, what is the story with Queen's wharf? The whole thing sounds like a Monty Python sketch. "International visitors please filter through the visitor's terminal." "You mean the sheds?" "No, no, the VISITORS TERMINALS. Look the sign says visitor's terminal." "But if you come for the World Cup you'll get a very nice TENT." What does this say about the pride of the city. The same city that celebrates its day with everyone parking on the Great Southern (or Northern) Carpark trying to get out!

No, I don't think New Zealanders are proud. It's all a bit showoffy I suppose. Never mind, we can all sneak off to 'Straya and celebrate 'Straya Day if we need a pick me up. The flag's close enough. A bit of red felt tip would fix it.


  1. I agree that Waitangi Day does not lend itself to the sort of celebration you would like to see. I can't see us having any luck choosing a day though. We don't need another over summer to join Christmas and New Year and Auckland Anniversary Day and Waitangi Day. Early spring might get us jumping around a bit to keep the cold out. Then we could finally do something about another flag as well.

  2. How about the day of the beginning on self-governance when the Constitution Act was passed - 30 June?

    Or when New Zealand got established as its own colony independent of Australia - 3 May?

    Or use an existing day like Auckland Anniversary. After all Auckland doesn't use it.