There can be few things as prominent in terms of New Zealand national identity as the All Blacks Rugby Union team. In many ways the country puts an awful lot of eggs in one basket when it comes to ensuring success in this one sport.
Not only do they have a huge reputation though, they are also huge men and they generally seem to live up to the hype (English sports teams might take note!).
Anyway, after living in NZ for two years we thought we really should go and watch them at some point (to be honest, I tend to prefer Rugby League as a spectacle). Wales were touring here so we went along to Eden Park to enjoy the game.
The atmosphere was great with supporters applauding both teams but the iconic Haka seemed quite distant compared to watching it on TV (although the sound was certainly something).
The All Blacks won 39-21…a bit of a shame as both teams played a good flowing game and I wanted Wales to win but such is life and a good experience to be a part of.
After talking about New Zealand last time out, I thought I should also voice what I’d want to change about the UK, if I could. I suppose only when you leave somewhere do you perhaps obtain a degree of objectivity because you have no other benchmark to compare it to.
- A few less rules would be nice. The UK is a bit of a nanny state. Having to have a fence so you don’t fall off a cliff is a prime example. Maybe just let the stupid have their day and save the rest of us from them.
- While I don’t perceive it to be as bad as America, less litigation in the UK for everything would be ideal. Why on earth does a bit of whiplash in a car accident require monetary compensation? I’m sorry but money does not magically fix your neck pain, even if you warm it in the microwave and wrap it round yourself. NZ has something called ACC which covers healthcare relating to accidents which in many ways is a pretty good idea.
- The UK has an horrendous drinking culture. Many folk seem to see drinking as much as you can in a short space of time as a weird badge of honour…and permission to behave appallingly with the excuse “I was drunk”. Yeah, well, no-one forced you to drink it did they? Add to that the fact that a good number are out getting drunk every Friday and/or Saturday night and you really have to ask how it is that life or society got so bad that people feel the need to do this to feel good about themselves?
- The weather is grim…especially in Scotland. Someone in NZ once said to me that on visiting the UK, he noticed that he hadn’t seen the sun or moon for 11 days in a row. There really is a lot of cloud…and rain.
- There are too many people for a small island. A cull might be useful.
- There is a real yob culture at times. CHAVs (which I think stands for Council House And Violent) are a blight on the nation – and unbelievably these people are exported as the mainstay of TV shows around the world. Makes you wonder what foreign folk think of the UK? Perhaps point 5 might start here.
- The traffic levels are truly attrocious. Sure, it is a function of the numbers of people using the roads but when I hear people complaining in NZ about the traffic, I just think “you don’t know you’re born”, or words to that effect. It is so bad that road rage is a recognised problem.
- It is not easy to get tickets for events in the UK compared to NZ, again a function of the population size. See point 5.
Righty-ho. I feel cleansed now.
Sometimes, it is good to take stock about things that you feel could perhaps be improved…assuming of course that you (or anyone else for that matter) have any control over them at all. I thought that after 30 months of residing in a new country, I am in a reasonable position to discuss those things…
- I’d like the sun to be less intense. You have to be really careful in the sun for extended periods and factor 50 is really a must as a rule. This kind of puts a bit of a dampener on summers for me…being folically challenged and what not.
- While it may just be our garden (it feels like it at times!), I really wish that the mosquitoes would just go away. Getting bitten like crazy when gardening is horrendous. Full body coverage is required…but you would never do it in the heat (see point 1 above).
- I do feel that drivers are pretty bad here…partly due to the quantity of immigrants who have learned to different rule sets and partly due to so many seemingly being totally oblivious to other road users.
- Television programming is grim. You really appreciate the BBC when it is gone…although they do import some decent things.
- I wish there were just a few more rules…while Britain is overkill on rules, New Zealand feels way too relaxed at times. You should see what passes as acceptable rental housing (as one example)!
- While the people are very friendly here as a rule, it has not been easy to make lasting and deep friendships – so far anyway. Friendliness seems skin-deep at times.
- You really miss free healthcare when it isn’t there. The NHS is great! Paying to see a GP who sits and mulls over the internet is a real joke…but to top it off, them discussing what you want to do about treatment and the costs therein is crazy – aren’t they the experts here?
- The houses here are poorly insulated and heated as a rule. Use of solar panels and double-glazing is minimal. There seems to be a mindset that people live in the tropics which is far from the truth during the winter months of May to September.
Thankfully, these are all fairly minor. But they inevitably influence your state of mind at times.
It’s too late to apologise…it’s too late!
Nestled in the Eastern edge of Taranaki province (with great views of the astounding Mount Taranaki), on the beautiful and remote Forgotten World Highway, is the republic of Whangamomona.
This is a small place, which achieved some notoriety in 1989 when, as council boundaries were redrawn, residents were unhappy with leaving Taranaki and so declared themselves a republic in protest. Every two years they have a day to celebrate this landmark and elect a new president. No doubt it brings much-needed tourism income into this remote area too.
The centre of the village is the Whangamomona Hotel which is a fine pub to visit on your way through. Hope you enjoy these pics of the town, and also some sights of the Forgotten World Highway.