It’s a little bit behind the times now as the NZ election was in September but I thought I’d talk politics (hopefully without the whole subject being a big turn-off for you).
This year was the first time I’ve been able to vote here in NZ since becoming a permanent resident. Indeed, by law you have to enrol to vote but you don’t actually have to vote (seems bizarre eh?)…although I doubt anyone polices this…it is NZ after all!
A little factoid for you is that NZ was the first country in the world to give women the vote in 1893. Why on earth it took so long to do things like that is anyone’s guess.
The voting system requires you to cast two votes on the day, one for a party you wish to govern and one for your local MP. The number of seats a party receives in parliament relates to the proportion of votes received counted up across the nation from the party votes cast, with the people receiving those seats being taken from a prioritised list which each party publishes. Your local MP will get their seat first though, if elected. In my area I could choose from 16 parties but only 6 local candidates.
Sounds a bit weird right?
They have what they call a “wasted vote” statistic linked to those votes people cast for parties who don’t receive enough votes to win a seat (you need 5% of the party vote for a seat or to win a local area seat)…but then this seems less than would be wasted in the UK where if you vote against a long-held party seat and your candidate doesn’t win in that area, you vote is largely meaningless.
The outcome in NZ had the strange situation where the ruling National party didn’t have enough seats to form a majority government, so the NZ First party entered into coalition talks with them and also with Labour and the Green party (the latter two already stating they would govern together but not having enough seats either). NZ First then in essence decided who won depending on who gave them most of what they wanted (Labour/Green it was). This was made more comical by the fact that the NZ First leader couldn’t even win his own seat and basked in the grand-standing limelight while everyone sucked up to him. Pathetic. It was a bit like the public voting on X Factor and then Simon Cowell’s personal assistant (i.e. someone arbitrarily unimportant) just deciding who he/she wants to win afterwards…in other words, a farce.
In summary, politics is messed up whichever way you slice it, and it’s a shame that it doesn’t attract altruistic and honourable people to the career. Someone worth voting for. Democracy isn’t perfect, but I suppose it seems better than the alternatives.
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.
Returning to the UK, I was a little concerned of how it might feel to meet up with friends for the first time in over three years. In some cases, keeping in touch has not been easy, and I was concerned as to how the relationship might stand up to time.
I either stayed with (some for the first time) or met up with numerous friends while in the country and I must say that without exception it felt like I hadn’t been away. It was a total joy for me and pointed to the fact that these were friends that in many cases would indeed last for a long time. What a relief!
In every case, the first few minutes reflected on the past before we started to create a few new memories to take into the future.
And for those friends (and family) with whom I stayed, it really was a very humbling experience to see how much they went out of their way to help with the trip and in ensuring that a good time was had by all. Most of our hosts were even happy to drive us to places despite our having a car which was fab also. To them (they know who they are) I say a massive THANK YOU.
Just to the south of York lies the market town of Selby. Many people will perhaps have never heard of this smaller neighbour.
At the heart of the town is the beautiful old Selby Abbey, especially popular with American tourists due to a stained glass window depicting the coat of arms of the Washington family – the ancestors of George Washington – from the fifteenth century. A stunning building and a worthwhile detour if you are in North Yorkshire!