Sunday, January 28, 2007

A clean and green New Zealand moves on into the 21st Century

Not a sleepy hollow anymore that was closed at the weekends - a clean and green New Zealand moves on into the 21st Century.
There was a time I still remember rather nostalgically as a ten year old boy, when visitors to these green and beautiful shores would rather facetiously claim that NZ was closed down on the weekends. These were carefree days - like it or lump it; we lived on a sheep's back and had the second or third highest per capita living standard in the whole world. We welcomed American servicemen occasionally - two American dollars didn't match a Kiwi Pound (the exchange rate was seventeen and sixpence, or a dollar seventy five) and we saw new drinks called Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola, and American Ice Cream; Kiwi ice cream was and still is better than the American variety.
We had Saturday shopping at suburban New Brighton in Christchurch, and later there was the same at Paraparaumu out west on the Kapiti Coast up from Wellington.Those two places shut down on Mondays instead.You could go swimming or sunbathing at the beach and go shopping on the way home. No supermarkets or shopping malls those days, thank God!
The major cities weren't overpopulated either. Immigrants came mainly from Britain and some from Holland those days. Over the ditch in Aussie Italian immigrants thought they were a weird mob, and Greek fishermen and fish shops were probably ten to one more than the Kiwi variety. We had tens of millions of sheep with a human population of just over two million; crime stats included 1-2 murders for the whole country, and New Zealanders left their doors unlocked when they went shopping.
Rugby Union, as now,netball and cricket were the most popular sports, basketball was an oddity, but there was some softball introduced by visiting American servicemen at the Antarctic "Deep Freeze" Base in Christchurch, which spread north eventually.Rugby league has always been a minor sport here; we actually introduced the sport to the Aussies early in the 20th Century.
Kiwis were always good athletes who developed a number of world class runners in the 1960's and 70's, people like triple gold medalist Peter Snell and 5,000 metre gold medalist, Murray Halberg and of course, another Olympic Gold Medalist, John Walker a little later on in the 70's. Of course we competed well in Commonwealth Games too, but left all the swimming to the Aussies who learned to swim extra fast at their shark infested beaches. LOL.
We loved the outdoors as well - swimming at the beaches and our pristine rivers, great trout and salmon fishing; hunting in the bush and mountains; boating; picnicking and camping out too in the holidays. There was no competition from television those days. We kids went to the morning or afternoon movies, the "pictures" we called them then, and watched all the serials and cowboys and Indians films. Native Americans just doesn't have the same ring to it? These were great pastimes and great times for Kiwi kids and Kiwi adults too!
Not any more I'm afraid. Some time after Britain joined the Common Market and the fabulous 1960's arrived along with The Beatles, and then the Vietnam War, things changed, New Zealand changed, western society changed, and the world changed forever.Kiwis still do all the great things I described, we are still a great sporting nation - the All Blacks rugby side is still the best all round national team, and we still love to kick our Aussie cousins in the backside occasionally, outside of rugby. We have won the Americas Cup twice, to Aussies once - and we had to rescue our Aussie cousins in one race when their boat sank! I don't think they have ever reclaimed that boat; its still in Davy Jones' Locker. LOL
We have come out of our shells as a nation, matured as a society and joined the rest of the western world in a whole manner of things that are described in the annual statistics.Our population has doubled to four and a quarter million since the wonderful fifties. We don' rank among the leaders in the per capita stakes anymore, but regardless of greenhouse gases and global warming of today, we are still one of the greenest places around. The clean and green image is pretty well earned, but we have our moments.
As a Kiwi recently it has been the images of dead and maimed children that are nightmarish, the body in a suitcase floating in Auckland Harbour; or poor little Liam, the ADHD affected 17 year old youth murdered in a security van on the way to a remand prison; or the local quad bike rider who ran into New Zealand's most wanted murderer the other week and never went home to his young children. These are stories I have written and posted in recent months. I have another to write about in coming days. There were other shocking stories I could have, but didn't write about.
There is a common thread running through these stories of mine about murders occuring in the land we once called Godzone. We as a developed and growing western society have to accept the fact that drugs are rampant in our society, as elsewhere in the west. "P" a form of methamphetamine is a factor in nearly every one of these homicides. Another fact is that cannabis/ marijuana has been the gateway drug for all of these meth. involved murders! That is a fact!
I hope you enjoyed my little nostalgic look into my beloved country's past.Have a happy day and happy blogging!

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