If I said the word “Niue” (pronounced like “New-eh”) would you know what I was referring to? Be honest.
I went to the Pasifika festival in Auckland a couple of years ago to celebrate the culture of Pacific Island nations and discovered there was an island dependency of New Zealand called Niue. It is a 3.5 hour flight from Auckland and sits in the South Pacific, roughly in the area of the more famous Tonga, Samoa or the Cook Islands.
Anyway, the island is around 250 square kilometres in area and around 64km around it by road, with a population of around 1,500 people. It is one of the largest raised coral atolls in the world and is referred to as “the rock” by locals. The highest point on the island is just 69m above sea level, however its raised, jagged sea cliffs protect it from many potential natural disasters.
I was lucky enough to go there recently, and I hope to share some things about this wonderful little slice of the world over the coming weeks with you. But for now, here is a photo of the western coastline at low tide with the exposed reef just to whet the appetite.
Following on from my recent post about buying Palm Oil free products, I was thinking about the choices we make as consumers, and the irresponsible actions of businesses.
Why do we need plastic straws in our drinks when there are sustainable alternatives?
Why do we need Christmas Crackers? These invariably go into the bin on the same day!
Why do we need little plastic “toys” or suchlike in cereal packets (or indeed Christmas Crackers)? It seems absurd that these add any value to anyone.
Why do some food items come packaged in both a box AND a bag?
In the digital age, do we really need to send paper birthday (and other occasion) cards around the world?
When was the last time you refused free plastic bags? We don’t need them most of the time, nor should we want them.
As a consumer, I feel underinformed at times about what the most sustainable option is for my purchase (often you don’t even get a choice)…as a business, I suspect they just want to make as much money as possible by hooking people in, but maybe we can alter the behaviour of businesses if we begin to shift away from cheap wasteful gimmicks and analyse “traditions”.
I recently stayed in an hotel which provided a little bag encouraging you to take any toiletries away with you. The sentiment is great as opposed to leaving partially used items in the room that must often just go in a bin, so I applaud it in that regard, but why is a bag required? Why not just a small sign or a note in a guestbook? As a concept it seems up there with humans producing a paper leaflet about saving trees. Scenic Hotels – this is not an ECO bag…it is a bag that did not need to be made at all…you have wasted resources in an effort not to waste resources. THINK!
Just west of Auckland on the Tasman Sea coast lies the beautiful Bethells Beach. Often appearing deserted, it is a spot which surfers and walkers enjoy, amongst others. The coastal path there is a part of the Hillary Trail which runs for 76km around the west coast.
Just inland from the beach, a short walk takes you over massive sand dunes to Lake Wainamu, which sits at the base of cascading waterfalls in something of a bowl, surrounded by the Waitakere Range mountains and said sand dunes. It is stunning to see, even on a cloudy day. The cool lake water feeds a stream which empties into the nearby ocean.
One upshot of having such a wonderful time in the UK is that it inevitably raises questions about the future. I will never regret the decision to move to New Zealand because it has given so many wonderful experiences which I would never otherwise have had but there is suddenly a pull on yourself from a number of sources when you return home for the first time.
There is the emotional pull of missing friends and family (though of course moving somewhere based on someone else being there would most likely be a huge mistake in the making), a cultural pull of missing certain things from your homeland, a pull from the countryside (not really from the cities!) and a pull of missing the British humour and the feeling that everyone generally understands you. All of these things (plus a good few others) seem to club together to raise doubts, especially when so many good feelings are crammed into a euphoric, short timespan.
However, leaving a booming economy, vibrant multicultural environment, conservation experiences and the wonderful countryside of NZ would be tough in its own right. It takes a long time to establish yourself in a new place and maybe a true regret would be to throw in the towel after just a few years and go back to something which I left behind for good reasons in the past. Add to that the upshot of Brexit (plus the divisive ignorance it has given rise to in the British culture), its potentially negative impact on the economic future of the UK and you begin to think that a wait-and-see approach is much more sensible. It seems more sensible to think about moving forwards instead of moving backwards.
The key question seems to be this…what kind of life do you want? It is also the hardest to answer. One thing has become clear, sometimes you have to change yourself and not just the place you live, because if you move to a new place, you will eventually revert to the same basic routine.
Has anyone had similar doubts or experiences themselves that they would like to share?
I do not have children, nor do I really want them, but during my trip to the UK I found that for the first two weeks I was staying in places where children of various ages were part of the scenery, from 18 months to 9 years old.
You might think that this would be a concern but it was great fun! Interacting with the kids, playing games and being a little part of their lives was great. They are often natural comedians and do things that we, as inhibited adults, would never do. They seem to have so few cares and you can only wish that life stayed that way. I even met my two-year-old niece for the first time which was brilliant!
To those who thought that the answer to every “I Spy” clue was “cake”, to those who would have me trampoline whether I won or lost at a family game of croquet (trampolining sure takes it toll on your knees, by the way!), to those who spontaneously started pole dancing at the age of two, I give thanks. These experiences are ones to be treasured and really helped make the UK trip a fabulous time that will be long-remembered.