Posts with tag: auckland
Letters from the Southern Man
Migrating is more than just filling in forms and submitting paperwork, its a complex process that will test even the most resilient of people.
Understanding New Zealand is paramount to your immigration survival and to give you a realistic view of the country, its people and how we see the world, read our weekly Southern Man blogs. Often humorous, sometimes challenging, but always food for thought.
That was the question put to viewers on a local TV show that aired the night I flew out of New Zealand last week. I didn’t get to watch the show but I read an online article the following day that suggested 76% of those that voted in their ‘poll’, said it was.
I confess I was very surprised. My experience is my friends are not racist. My clients overwhelmingly tell me that they have never felt racial discrimination either overtly or covertly in the work place, on the street or in any other part of their lives and New Zealand works so hard at maintaining a tolerant, secular, welcoming society that the outcome did not reflect the reality that I experience or my clients tell me they have experienced.
Naturally there are racists everywhere, but we are more known for being welcoming, tolerant and a genuinely friendly people.
Interestingly migrant groups that were asked for their reaction to this finding the next morning (and reported online) all said the same things as me – nope – NZ is not a racist country.
That tallies with the Government’s own findings – since 1998 the Department of Labour has carried out a Longitudinal Survey which seeks to track migrant experiences and outcomes. Fourteen years on, something like 95% of migrants confirm they have never been on the wrong end of anything ‘racist’.
I suspect that those who voted were not migrants. It was one of those – if you think ‘yes’ text 2354 and if you think ‘no’ text 9854 situations - prime time ‘who cares’ kind of programmes.
In the trailers that were airing in the lead up to the show I did notice that when people were stopped in the street (in Auckland) and asked ‘Is NZ a racist country?’ what struck me was that all those who looked like me and had my accent said ‘Yes’ (except one) and everyone who looked and sounded like they weren’t born in New Zealand said ‘No’. One did add, however, ‘It depends where you go in New Zealand.’ That might have been reference to the other end of the country…
I would speculate that those that think we are a racist country are probably not migrants.
Of course (and not having seen the programme I am speculating) those middle class born and bred locals might have been referring to race relations not between migrants and locals but between Pakeha (New Zealanders of European descent and others) and Maori – but I doubt it. There is no doubt that there is among a minority of both groups tension over Treaty of Waitangi settlements (a story for another day but in a nutshell that describes the Crown offering financial and non-financial redress for its acts in the late 1800s in respect of land confiscations and the feeling among some that ‘Maori get special favours’).
And therein of courselie the perils of unscientific TV polls.
I speak openly on racism at my seminars – after all New Zealand is increasingly home to people from (literally) all over the world. With 42% of Aucklanders not born in New Zealand and 20% of New Zealand residents or citizens not born in New Zealand we are increasingly a highly ethnically and culturally diverse country. It is inevitable then that there will be those who feel threatened by migrants but with hand on heart I can say I don’t hear much of it. In fact it is amazing to me that a city like Auckland which has the greatest concentration of migrants can be such a tolerant and friendly place to live without the racial tensions that can arise when the composition of a large population can change so radically over a decade or two.
I live in Mount Eden, an inner city suburb in central Auckland. When we moved into the area twenty years ago the population was young couples, crappy old ‘do up’ houses and the population was largely Pakeha and Polynesian. Over the years the Polynesians have largely moved out and the Chinese have moved in. I now sometimes joke that I live in Shanghai such is the overwhelming dominance of Chinese faces in my street adn local community. The local primary school when my sons were there had children from 41 different nationalities but they are now increasingly North Asian. All of them sound like little Kiwis when they open their mouths and they have values that might be a little different to their migrant parents.
I have often observed that with these new faces in my suburb in serious numbers, my life hasn’t changed one jot in the 20 years (except I now shop at the local ‘Asian’ Supermarket and eat more pork(!), we eat out more often at the plethora of Chinese eateries that have popped up like mushrooms (probably about 50 within ten minutes walk) and I am aware that to be a New Zealander no longer means being a rugby fanatic, being white and middle class. However, I still don’t eat dog. I prefer chickens feet on the chicken and not on my plate, I love a good curry and fried rice is more often on my home cooked menu than mashed potato and I don’t have congee for breakfast. I am not eating with chopsticks at home (except when I make sashimi…). Yet. I have not converted to Islam. I am not a Buddhist. Hinduism doesn’t much interest me. I have not been tempted to try Christianity as some cultural refuge from these migrants.
I am aware though that I live in a wonderfully diverse and exciting city that is all the better for the mixture of races and cultures that we now have.
My experience of New Zealanders is that most do not have a racist bone in their bodies. One on one we do not judge based on race, religion or ethnicity. While we are as quick as the next group to generalise (such as ‘Asians can’t drive’) my experience and that of my clients is that one on one we do not.
I’d be really interested in hearing the views of those who have travelled here, live here and have migrated here.
Have you experienced racism? If so I’d like to know the context of it, whether it is common and your thoughts.
Until next week
Southern Man - Iain MacLeod
I mentioned a week or so ago that autumn was slowly winding its quiet way up the country.
Well it has now arrived in Auckland. It almost feels like someone has flicked a switch.
It is a time of year I love and a change that I enjoy (although I could have done with one more month of the amazing summer we have just had). I start thinking about getting out the jacket and pulling on something warmer in the evening. Five months of shorts and tee shirts are not yet over during the day but at night you have to have thick blood or be an English immigrant (everything is relative) not to need a sweatshirt or jacket.
The humid, muggy nights with overnight temperatures of the mid to high teens have been replaced by temperatures of around 13 degrees here in Auckland. Daytime temperatures continue to be in the 22-24 degree Celcius range and there has still been precious little rain. Autumn really is a special time in New Zealand. In the far south you get the trees turning rich reds and yellows about now before discarding their leaves. This colour explosion slowly moves its way up the country through late March, April and May although I heard today autumn is late down south after their summer that has lingered on longer than usual. We see these autumn colours less vibrantly up here as autumn and winter are relatively short and the temperature cools down slowly through April and May before warming up again by September. And with winter, rain. Although it will inevitably come right now my garden is thirsty and requiring constant watering. The fields and farms outside the city and over most of the North Island continue to be parched and dry.
The days are growing shorter and we have just put back the clocks by an hour – the end of daylight saving draws a curtain on summer around here. The sun is now setting around 6.30pm (on the longest day December 22nd it doesn’t set till just before 9pm – don’t forget we also put the clocks forward for by an hour in summer). I tell myself about this time each year there is only eight weeks till the shortest day and then we are all downhill to spring and summer again!
Although the trees in my garden and the city’s parks aren’t yet losing their leaves they will certainly be thinking about it.
It is a time of year when the fishing is nothing short of spectacular as it tends to be every autumn as the fish look to fatten up before the winter arrives in a few more weeks. Last weekend my wife and I caught our daily legal limit of snapper (a superb eating fish for our overseas readers) in a little over an hour. We actually caught about 36 but as the legal daily catch is only 9 per person (and woe betide if you get caught with more – you can lose your boat and whatever is pulling it as well as being stung by huge fines) so we threw back anything under 35 centimetres (legal minimum size is 27 cm) and stuck to our 18 fish limit. That will keep us in fillets for a few weeks.
At this time of the year the fish practically jump in the boat. We use two hooks and flasher rigs and I cannot tell you how tired we got of hauling up two fish on each line every time the bait was lowered 40 meters to the bottom. We caught our limit too quickly. Seriously, the fishing is that good at this time of year.
However, as the fishing won’t get this easy till next summer and the seas can, at times, get quite rough through winter I am heading north next weekend to have a final crack and fill up the freezer before the fish lose interest and head into deeper waters.
For those living here who don’t have access to a boat you can just as easily perch yourself on one of the wharves in downtown Auckland and try your luck. Plenty a feed of fish are caught down there – people fish in their lunchtimes!
A must do for those of you who have recently moved here or are looking to visit is to head to the Matakana Farmers Market on a Saturday morning. I particularly enjoy it at this time of year- wandering around the stalls with their local produce and ready to eat food on a crisp autumnal morning is great fun and a wonderful way to while away an hour or so. This is a very interesting example of rural regeneration and ‘build it and they will come’. This picturesque little village which is an easy one hour drive north of Auckland was, until about ten years ago, a sleepy little village you drove through on your way to somewhere else. With the Farmers Market, their choice of stall holders (all locally produced foods, wines, olive oils, pastries etc) and its layout which resembles something from Medieval times and village shops it is a destination in itself. The Farmers Market stalls are made of rough sawn timber and chunky native wood and each is covered by fabric in faded red stripe. The gravel underfoot is fine and you expect to hear the sounds of knights on horses jousting in the distance. It doesn’t look like a film set – nothing Disney or tacky about it - it is just well thought out and stylish and the coffee, food and produce are great.
I was sitting outside one of the cafes on the weekend and seven ducks – three white and four brown wandered across the road behind me stopping the traffic before waddling up the footpath stopping to see what titbits of food they could coerce out of the diners. They were very comical and awfully cute.
Matakana has become so popular now with day trippers from Auckland in particular some of the locals are moaning about the traffic jams on Saturday morning and the inconvenience. But this commerce has brought considerable wealth to the area and there is a definite whiff of money about the village and surrounding farms, orchards and lifestyle blocks.
I managed to buy and consume in my hour or so there last Saturday a South Island whitebait fritter (whitebait are the juvenile form of native freshwater fish and are a rare delicacy in this country), consumed a Belgian style custard filled doughnut, had a great coffee and munched my way through a bap filled with rocket and a locally made pork and fennel sausage with caramelised onions (makes me drool just remembering it). And I skipped lunch……
We bought seedling lettuces for the garden, basil and coriander to plant and a 1 litre bottle of local olive oil which is seriously right up there with the best we have ever tasted anywhere in the world (and that includes Italy).
Matakana and the Farmers Market is a place to linger. Once you have eaten your fill and/or bought lunch my advice is then to head off to the Goat Island Marine Reserve. This is about another 15 minutes drive. This was New Zealand’s first Marine Reserve and has been around since I was a small boy. I remember many a summer’s afternoon spent there when I was only 5 or 6 being mesmerised by the fish and marine life while baking under our hot summer sun.
The Marine Reserve gives visitors a sense of what our inshore seas must have been like before humans settled this land. It is breath taking if you take a mask and snorkel. At this time of year the water temperature is still around 22 degrees Celsius so it is quite warm enough to swim in without a wetsuit.
The fish are everywhere and literally even if you stand in the water up to your ankles you are quickly surrounded by them – and some are quite big. Kelp grows in great brown swaying beds. Sea urchins litter the seafloor. Crayfish (lobster) dance on their many feet at your approach and slink backwards into their rock crevices as you pass by. Large crusty old snapper will circle you and smaller schools of fish swirl just out of reach. Truly magical and a wonderful way to introduce your children to the way things were and many of us hope one day they will be again. For those a little less keen to get their head under the water there are glass bottom boat trips and kayaks are available for hire. It is also a popular scuba diving spot.
There is even a camping ground there for those that might wish to pitch a tent and stay the night. In summer it is a real treat – in winter it can be cold (not freezing, just cool).
Within 10 minutes drive of Matakana are a number of vineyards so you can always call into one of these for a wine tasting, to buy a few bottles or just to enjoy the afternoon sun, tapas or dinner before the drive home to Auckland.
I hope you take the time to visit these places. They are well worth it and I was encouraged to see a number of tourists wandering the markets and sampling the wares. I must have heard 25 different languages in the space of an hour.
Add it to your to do list.
To see some more great images of the markets click here>>
Until next week
Iain Macleod - Southern Man
About a year ago I wrote a blog reflecting on national crime statistics for the year ending December 2011. In that year crime was down by around 10% on the previous year. I didn’t think it could improve beyond that especially at a time of relative economic quiet (traditionally with higher unemployment so too crime rates). However, it hasn’t happened – our safe little country just got even safer.
A snapshot of the December 2012 year shows that murder bucked the trend and was up from 39 deaths in 2011 to 42 in 2012 (46 in 2010); assaults were down by 3.4%; sexual assault rose by 1.3%; robbery was down by 10.1%; unlawful entry/ burglary down by 11% (not at my place – see below), Fraud and Deception was unchanged, illicit drugs up 0.3%, public order down 1% and I could go on.
The overall picture is steadily declining crime rates.
How strange it is then that the media still headlines crime on the Six O’clock news bulletins and splashed across the front pages of the daily rags that pass for newspapers in this country.
While these statistics are, I suspect, a true reflection of the rates of crime in this country is this a case of everything being rosy in paradise?
The Police are quick to point out that they are more focussed on crime prevention rather than crime charging and solving. One of their tools is earlier intervention and in particular in cases of domestic violence (which dominates our crime against persons stats) using what are known as Personal Safety Orders which allows the Police, without anyone being charged, to remove a person from a domestic situation whether they usually live at that address or even if they own the property. The individual can be asked to leave for up to 5 days. A cooling down period which appears pretty effective. Assaults are significantly down in the past three years as Safety Orders increase. It appears to be working.
Naturally there are critics and those that would argue that ‘real’ crime isn’t getting better, the Police are simply charging people less. And in that there may be some truth.
Take drug offences. The Police have been focussing heavily on prosecuting drug supply and dealing harshly with that through the Courts. They are less concerned with charging users of say, cannabis/marijuana but giving verbal warnings (not to be confused with a formal warming which is recorded as an offence).
I continue to be astounded at how blasé my own sons and all their friends are about recreational drugs (cannabis only I desperately hope) and underage drinking. Not helped as a parent I might add when these young men and women watch those (inane) reality Police shows which show young New Zealanders being stopped by the police who from time to time find a ‘joint’ and who do not press charges but destroy the offending item by crushing it under their feet.
It raises an interesting point of discussion between my friends and me.
On the one hand we live in a society that increasingly does not view the use of recreational drugs as a crime. The fact is cannabis is freely available and used by many people of different age groups and backgrounds means that it is commonly found in many social situations.
Its use and possession however remains unlawful.
When the Police themselves are not taking a hard line on its use it certainly makes it more difficult for we as parents to ‘police’ its use and make our teenagers understand it is a crime when those tasked with enforcing laws see it as low priority.
Maybe the Police approach is right. If Society accepts the use of (relatively harmless) drugs, the Police are perhaps just reflecting the values of that Society. Maybe it is time for a law change.
Burglary of course remains the most common of crime.
I live in Mount Eden, a suburb of Auckland that lies on the fringe of downtown Auckland. One of Auckland’s oldest it is full of hundred plus year old villas with no off-street garaging for cars, low levels of security, generally no gates to prevent people coming onto our properties and houses that have old wooden sash windows that are not hard to jimmy open. An area of relative wealth meaning good pickings for those that might be so inclined to help themselves. Mount Eden is apparently the burglary capital of New Zealand. My family have had a number of brushes with burglars in our 20 years in the suburb.
Only last Tuesday morning my eldest son was watching TV at 2.15am (as you do it seems when you are a University student) and thought he could hear people talking outside the lounge on our driveway. We don’t have garages for our cars but a driveway that sits beside our house (and TV room). He turned the TV off and went to the front door. Two men ran down the driveway and jumped into a car and sped off. My son waited outside to see if they would come back (having noted the type and colour of the car – too dark for a registration plate) and sure enough about five minutes later these guys cruised past once again. He thought little more of it and went to bed.
At 8.00am my neighbour knocked on the front door to tell me that my son’s car (parked on the road) had been broken into. Given they live in a state of near perpetual poverty (or so they tell us) I assumed they would have left nothing of value in it. However, it turns out my youngest son left his GoPro Video camera that I had given him three days earlier for his 17th birtthday in the glove compartment. It was gone. As was his school bag with his year’s books and notes along with his iTouch. The thieves left his uneaten lunch of sandwiches that had been in his schoolbag (and may have been there some days knowing Tom).
Suffice it to say I was furious. Not only at the thugs that think they have the right to break windows and help themselves but to silly 17 year olds who despite their father’s plea to never leave anything of real value in the car, especially when it is parked on the road, one son did.
We duly reported this to the Police and my eldest son gave them a good description of the vehicle they were driving. They were genuinely interested. They have a good track record in our suburb of finding thieves like these. Goodness knows they get enough practise.
If there is a good side to crime here it is that it tends to be against property rather than people. If someone breaks into your house they aren’t going to hang around just to harm you. Violent crime against people is overwhelmingly domestic violence. That doesn’t excuse it but should reassure anyone thinking of moving here that crime is real but it is low level and generally not personal. If you get bashed, chances are you will know the person who did it. It might not make you feel better if it happens to you but reinforces our streets are generally very safe.
My wife often walks around 4km to the gym, before and after dark, summer and winter, rain or shine. She thinks nothing of it. She carries no protection and is armed only with a cellphone. That is the reality of ‘crime’ in this city and this country.
When I consider that if we murdered people at the same per capita rate as a country like South Africa we would murder around 1000 people a year it brings home just how safe New Zealand is (and how unsafe places like South Africa really are).
It remains pleasing though to see the crime rate continues to fall and a very safe country is becoming even safer.
Until next week
Southern Man - Iain MacLeod
My apologies for the late Letter from New Zealand. I returned home earlier in the week from fourteen days of hectic consulting (dawn till dusk and beyond) in Singapore and Malaysia. Seriously shattered. It has taken a few days to recover.
Not helped by yesterday being the first day of the third cricket test between England and New Zealand at Eden Park. It is the last cricket test of the New Zealand summer.
I often counsel potential clients that the key to quick assimilation into our society is linguistic and cultural compatibility along with skills (or capital).
And cricket is a mighty fine barometer. If you understand this game you will survive. If you love this game you will thrive. If you don't, well, you'll get by.
Cricket is part of our British ancestry. It is in our blood. Given I live about 15 minutes casual walk to the home of all that is great and good about New Zealand sport I wasn’t about to miss the first day. There is nothing like it.
Eden Park is the beating heart of New Zealand sport’s premier games – rugby and cricket. I have spent many a lazy summer afternoon there enjoying a quiet ale with friends and family watching, to my eyes anyway, that finest form of the game of cricket – the five day test.
I have also enjoyed many a booze filled day watching the New Zealand cricket team play the best in the world. In all forms of the game – T20s and one dayers. Light entertainment and fast moving – I consider it a fun day out but it is rather a hit and giggle situation – without the seriousness, commitment and skill of a test match.
Now, as the days grow shorter, summer holds on by a thread and the evenings close in earlier as autumn creeps i up the country the Black Caps – ranked eighth in the world are battling the second ranked team in England.
Travelling with their small but highly vociferous band of supporters known as the Barmy Army (who are seeing what a real summer is all about) the game late on day two has New Zealand with their noses in front.
How to explain a game that takes five days to complete to a new migrant?
I did try describing it once to some Americans but I quickly realised I was wasting my time. Even talking about it as like a five day version of baseball on valium still didn’t work. Their eyes glazed over and I realised that you need to be the son or daughter of the British Empire to ‘get it’. And those Americans just weren’t part of the British Empire for long enough for the game to take root in their psyche.
This game has to be the sternest test of mental and physical strength. A game that swings from advantaging one side to another, that twists and turns under hot summer skies, where a single delivery can make or break a career. Nothing like it.
Of course to others it is as exciting as watching paint dry. But to them I say, Philistine to a man.
Many years ago when my sons were starting out playing cricket (about age 5) a very dear friend of mine from Durban said to me – great game cricket, it teaches them so much more than how to hit or bowl a ball – keep them involved for as long as you can.
And I did.
Over the past twelve years most of my summer Saturdays wee until very recently been spent standing down one end of a cricket pitch acting as one of two on field umpires for my two sons club and school cricket games. You never appreciate the cut and thrust of this game till you have had the chance to stand down one end watching your boys become young men learning their craft, developing their game and adding the lessons of the sports field to their personal development and world view.
As I so often said to my boys and those I also coached down the years – in cricket as in life. Which usually resulted in the rolling of eyes. Now that they are older, and unfortunately no longer playing, they are beginning to understand what I meant. The more you put in, the more you get out of it.
Nothing is tougher than cricket. It is the cruellest of games. And the prince of games. Ask any opening batsman.
But back to Eden Park. Since its redevelopment for the Rugby World Cup of 18 months ago the park as lost a lot of its intimacy for cricket. Something of a concrete jungle of huge towering stands (largely empty even during test matches) there are now in my view far nicer places to watch test cricket. Other cities of New Zealand have their own dedicated cricket venues which usually involve one or two medium sized stands to watch and then grass covered embankments, often framed by ancient Pohutukawa trees.
So while Eden Park has become more functional it has certainly become better for watching rugby than cricket.
Its days as a joint venue, shared with rugby, must surely one day end. Right now, money talks but it is odd given Auckland has over 1.5 million people who enjoy being outdoors thanks to our long balmy summers why we haven’t taken test cricket away from Eden Park to a venue more befitting what might be the last of the truly gentlemen’s games. I know a few years ago Auckand cricket was offered over $20 million to take the game elsewhere. Strangely they declined.
If as a recent arrival to New Zealand you haven’t been to Eden Park, go before this test match is over. Take the children. It’s part of our DNA and even if you don’t understand the game the beer always tastes great sitting in the warm late summer sun.
Until next week
Iain MacLeod - Southern Man
It’s been a long, hot, rainless summer for most of New Zealand. It has been fantastic if you like, sun, surf (and fishing), but things are getting pretty dire if you are a crop or dairy farmer.
This time last year we ‘townies’ were moaning of the summer that wasn’t, overcast, humid and plenty of rain. A boom for the farmers reflected later in the year in their incomes.
This year, however, the boot is on the other foot.
Virtually the whole of the North Island has been declared a drought zone which means farmers get access to Government assistance.
Climatologists are talking of this being the worst in seventy years.
Parts of the South Island (the north and east) are also suffering severe soil moisture deficits and many will shortly also be declared drought zones.
Most parts of the North Island have now not received any substantial rain (if any rain at all) for over three months.
Those green rolling hills of the Hobbit movie and post card fame have been replaced by dry, parched, straw coloured fields empty of livestock. Those that rely on rain water to fill water tanks are on short ration (or trucking in expensive water by the tanker load).
Drought is a normal part of life in New Zealand with the last major one being in 2010 and before that 2008 and 2004. What is not so common is to have so much of the country affected so badly.
Given half of what we export comes from farms and forests then any extended period of drought hits our economy where it hurts – in the soil. Perhaps perversely, however, I see that the latest international auction of dairy products saw already high process surge by 10% as international buyers recognise that milk production in New Zealand is going to fall fairly dramatically in many regions. Economists are muttering about a net NZ$1 billion coming off export receipts notwithstanding these higher prices.
This wonderful weather (depending on your occupation) has been caused by a steady procession of large, fat anti cyclones parking themselves over the country for weeks on end acting to block the fronts that bring rain from the south west and the sub tropical lows that come down from the tropics bringing rain with them.
At the same time as we are being parched northern New South Wales and Queensland are being hammered by rain event after rain event as weather systems that would usually drop rain but move on across the Tasman Sea and fall on us, stay put and are pushed south along the New South Wales coast.
This summer cycle is not at all unusual in pattern – Brisbane, for example, gets ample summer rain (far more than cities like Auckland – and comparable with Durban in South Africa for you South African readers) and this is why – but is somewhat unusual in intensity. The north of the North Island of New Zealand usually gets some rain in summer – Auckland averages about 70mm in January and February but that rain usually comes in two or three hours over a few days over the course of those months.
Temperatures have been about normal – mid to high 20s but the humidity has been noticeably lower. Usually at this time of the year humidity levels lie between 70 – 95%. Northerly winds, of which we have received little this year bring the thick moist air and rain down from the tropics blanketing us in muggy air.
So the difference this year has been more than the absence of rain – it has been the significant increase in sunshine as well, drying out the soils.
Although I need to get the sprinkler on the garden every summer to keep everything from drying out, this year I have had to water even more. Up north at my beach house the cracks in the ground are now wide enough to lose a small child down. Okay, not quite, but many are over 3cm wide – you’d definitely lose the car keys.
In January we received around 10% of our normal monthly rainfall in Auckland and about one third of what we would get in February which is usually precious little but at least it keeps the garden ticking over. March has been equally dessert like.
While on things climatological do you know which are the hottest, driest and coldest urban centres in New Zealand?
The answer is all three statistics are held by one place - Cromwell. A small town in Central Otago which began life as a gold mining town and is about an hour and a half’s drive inland from Dunedin towards the bottom of the South Island. This town receives 350mm of rain in a good year, in summer has temperatures in the low to mid 30 degrees, yet in winter averages about 10 degrees. Incredible when you think about it – this is Pinot Noir country, cherries, apricots and other pip fruit, Lord of The Rings looking country. Wonderful really – tussock country where three colours dominate – straw brown of the grasses, grey blue of the schist rock and blue (big towering and wide blue) skies. Long, hot, dry summers dominate this part of the country despite being so far south.
As summer turns to autumn the first touch is being felt at the bottom of the South Island. Daytime temperatures start to slowly fall as the first fingers of winter weather fronts tickle the bottom of the island on their journey eastward.
Autumn then slowly makes its way north over the coming weeks and reaches Auckland in mid to late April. The temperatures will gradually fall a degree or two each month as autumn becomes winter.
And the rain will come for us up north. It always has and always will.
While the farmers will all celebrate the change we ‘townies’ will lament the passing of what has been one of the best summers in many years.
Until next week
Iain MacLeod - Southern Man
I wouldn't usually reproduce someone else's blog piece but this week I am going to (and I hope the author doesn't mind). I do so in response to some pretty vicious and defamatory comments posted last week on the Letters from New Zealand blog site. Most posts I took down - anything defamatory will always be removed especially when the person is too cowardly to put their real name and email address to it.
I am however all for adult and respectful discourse so I left most of them up even though they will fail statstical or half intelligent scrutiny. The ones that ran down New Zealand as 'third world', 'a shithole', terrorised by urban gangs, suffering a youth drinking culture (that part at least is true), terrible child abuse statistics, high cost of living, low wages etc I left up. After all I have nothing to fear from such opinions - I am the guy who leads a team of Consultants who stand up at seminars around the world and warn people to be careful in their expectations of this country or any other. To do their homework, establish their employability, visit if they can and make a balanced decision in the full knowledge nowhere is perfect and the migration process comes with no guarantees. I hear myself at every seminar say up front and openly 'I don't live in paradise, I live in New Zealand'.
There will always be contrarian views - some migrants do view New Zealand as heaven and others hell. Most fall somewhere in between.
In the interest then of other perspectives read this from a US based blogger comparing his country with New Zealand and he draws on real, verifiable statistics.
Written by Nonny Mouse from American blog 'Crooks & Liars'.
We Americans like to think, and in fact have been indoctrinated for decades to believe, that we are the greatest country in the world, the best at just about everything. Sadly, that hasn’t been true for quite some time. Words patriots once gave their lives for, like ‘freedom’... and ‘patriots’... have become almost meaningless.
So if you’re curious about who’s taken our crown, you might be surprised. The latest international index of 123 countries released by the Fraser Institute, Canada's leading public policy think-tank, and Germany's Liberales Institut, ranked New Zealand number one for offering the highest level of freedom worldwide, followed by the Netherlands then Hong Kong. Australia, Canada and Ireland tied for fourth spot. The survey measured the degree to which people are free to enjoy classic civil liberties - freedom of speech, religion, individual economic choice, and association and assembly - in each country surveyed, as well as indicators of crime and violence, freedom of movement, legal discrimination against homosexuals, and women's freedoms. Pretty extensive stuff.
The United States tied Denmark for seventh. We didn’t even get bronze.
As for the idea that the United States is the envy of the world when it comes to free markets and business? Wrong again. The U.S. continues to lose ground against other nations in Forbes’ annual look at the Best Countries for Business. The U.S. placed second in 2009, but in 2012 it ranks 12th, trailing fellow G-8 countries Canada (5th), the United Kingdom (10th) and Australia (11th) The world’s biggest economy at $15.1 trillion scores abysmally when it comes to trade freedom and monetary freedom.
So, who did top the list for the Best Countries for Business?
New Zealand. New Zealand can boast a transparent and stable business climate that encourages entrepreneurship. New Zealand is the smallest economy in the top 10 at $162 billion, but it ranks first in personal freedom and investor protection, as well as a lack of red tape and corruption.
Okay, so at least MIT is still the best university in the entire world, we’re still first at something...Well, according to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, there are two thousand six hundred eighteen accredited four-year colleges and universities in the United States, most of which operate privately or as part of state governments. Only fifty-four of these are in the top 200, very slightly over 2% . So who does top the educational rankings?
That would be New Zealand again, first in the world on the basis of performance in three areas: access to education, quality of education and human capital.
The annual QS World University survey ranks institutions based on scores for academic reputation, employer reputation and how many international students it has, among other things. Up to 20,000 universities from around the world were surveyed to find the top 700 academic institutions from 72 countries, the best universities in the world.
New Zealand has eight universities nationwide, with slightly less than around a half million students. According to the QS World University Rankings, two of New Zealand’s universities – Auckland and Otago – rank in the top 200 of the 700 best universities in the world, and Auckland in the top 100 (83rd and 133rd respectively). That's 25% compared to the United State's 2.06%. All eight universities rank in the top 500, with Auckland University of Technology appearing on the list for the first time this year. That’s a 100% rating.
Even when New Zealand isn’t top of the list, they’re outranking and out-performing the United States on just about any index you want to consider. How about the environment? According to the Yale University and Columbia University 2012 Environmental Performance Index at the World Economic Forum, ranking 132 countries, New Zealand placed 14th in the top 30. The United States trailed at 49th.
We rank top of the list for the most expensive health care system in the world, but dead last overall compared to six other industrialized countries - Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom – when it comes to quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and the ability to lead long, healthy, productive lives.
There are a few other things the United States tops the charts at: We’re fifth out of the top 25 countries in the world in terms of crime rate. New Zealand is 24th.
Auckland is ranked the third best city out of the top five for quality of living, after Vienna and Zurich, nothing in the United States making the list at all. Even when it’s just the Americas being ranked for quality of living overall (taking New Zealand out of the equation altogether), the top four cities are all in Canada, with Honolulu coming 28th.
Don’t even get me started on the All Blacks.
One of the smallest countries in the world is kicking our ass when it comes to actually living up to the standards we Americans pretend we still have. Isn’t it about time we stopped kidding ourselves, stopped living on past glories that mostly never were, and started actually trying to be at least as good as one of the smallest nations on earth?
So I am not the only one that thinks New Zealand is doing okay.
Until next week
Iain MacLeod - Southern Man
A bit of a change of pace this week...
If a picture tells a thousand words - grab yourself a coffee, put your feet up and watch this six minute featurette prepared by some fantastic local producers.
It is a real eye-opener even for those of us who have lived here for quite some time. Each time I watch it I notice something new and something familiar. It will give you a nice introduction to Auckland, our 'Big Little City'.
Until next week
Iain Macleod - Southern Man
Recently I had a client flying in for a whirlwind five days to check out New Zealand. Quite how you can do justice to a landmass of 270,000 square kilometres in five days is a bit of a mystery to me but they were going to give it a good go.
Like most visitors they had heard about the Bay of Islands and wanted to head up there. These are folks of means and I suggested that they hire a private helicopter for their time here so they could see a lot of the country.
I also suggested for a taste of a significantly different New Zealand (culturally and geographically) they visit Queenstown and its surrounds - the virtual desert dry landscape, mountain vistas, vineyards and food.
A night or two in Auckland as well to round it all off.
They took my advice and saw all three. Personally I believe the Bay of islands is over rated – in summer it is sublime but these clients were visiting in September which is spring and the weather up there can be very changeable.
The one place I forgot to mention was Waiheke Island but luckily they found out about it themselves and spent the best 24 hours of their trip there.
There are a few special places in New Zealand that I really love and feel a real connection with. One I have written much about is Lang’s Beach where we are lucky enough to have a beach house. This is situated 160 km north of Auckland where a beach of golden sand rings the Pacific Ocean. Only last weekend I watched as a huge pod of over 200 Common Bottlenose Dolphins fished their way through the shallows. Tail slapping and body slamming the water to herd the fish into ever tighter bunches. Last summer I watched from the deck of our beach house a pod of Orca chasing and catching sting rays. Apparently only in New Zealand do Orca hunt and eat sting rays – you have never seen a sting ray fly as far out of the water as when he has a three tonne Killer Whale on his tail. Several ended up on the beach. Frying pans and fires!
This last weekend I had the pleasure of once again spending a couple of days on Waiheke Island to support my brother-in-law Greg’s Jassy Dean Trust annual garden safari. The Trust raises money for the families of sick children of Waiheke.
My wife and I climbed on board the high speed ferry at 4pm and enjoyed the first glass of Waiheke Island produced Pinot Gris. Pulling away from the wharf in downtown Auckland I could feel the stresses of a hard week being left behind. The wine probably also helped……
Around 40 minutes later we berthed at Mateatea wharf to a different world.
Off to Greg’s house in his recently purchased cabriolet. Soft top down, sun in our eyes, breeze in our hair and all that. His house stands proudly on a hilltop overlooking regenerating native forest with views out to the Pacific Ocean. Tuis wheeled and dived over the tree tops and fat Kereru (native wood pigeon) flew heavily through the early evening air. Skinks (native lizards) scuttled around over fallen logs while bumble bees laboured between blooms of nectar bearing native flowers.
This island is very steep for the most part with rolling hills running down its spine. No one seems to live more than an easy stroll to some secluded cove or wide, sandy bay.
This island feels like a world apart from the bustling, car choked city 40 minutes back up the harbour. It is idyllic. Winding roads and native forest give way to vineyards, groves of olives and sheep farms. The extremely wealthy with their helicopters and super yachts live side by side with New Zealand’s less well off. Waiheke used to be a hangout for hippies – they have either island hopped out to Great Barrier (even further out in the Hauraki Gulf) or they have become middle class aspiring artists, real estate agents or website developers. There is always a holiday feel in the air.
Saturday morning dawned fine and warm – an almost cloudless sky. I instantly regretted what had to have been around three bottles of local Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc the night before. Two rapid action paracetamol under the belt and into the car we climbed (gingerly).
Being the idiot I am I had left my hat at home but plastered my nose and face with sun screen. We are getting to that time of year when the burn time is down to single figure minutes. The temperature was predicted to be a warm 22 degrees with no chance of rain. Waiheke has 25% less rainfall than downtown Auckland and it never seems to rain when I am there. I am told it does but this is what makes it so good for the olives and grapes – cool winters, terrible soil and baking hot summers.
We were off on our Garden Safari.
Whether you are into gardening or not as a migrant you can learn an awful lot about not just this island but our society, the things we have in common, the things we care about, what serious money can buy or for that matter what you don’t need money for.
Some of the gardens were so big they covered several hectares. So big in fact the owners employ full-time gardeners (full-time gardeners are a real rarity here given the cost of labour yet some of these gardens had three full-timers working in them). Some gardens were very small. All were equally loved. Most used native trees and shrubs and plenty displayed wonderful local sculpture and art in many different forms.
Many of the gardens ended in jagged cliffs. Others meandered their way down to the sea. Some disappeared into native forest that surrounded them.
All that walking gave us an appetite so it was off for lunch at Te Motu Vineyard. The wonderful thing about eating out in this country and, nowhere more so than Waiheke, is the local fare and wine. Especially seafood. We are spoiled for it. Plates of raw marinated fish, main courses of fresh caught snapper and shell fish. Early season strawberries and other local fruit and of course (some more!) local wine. It certainly is not cheap but sitting out under the cover of sun sails, a half hour lying in the grass under a huge, clear blue sky surrounded by vineyards while the lunch went down, it was hard not to just smile. Life can be much much worse than a weekend on Waiheke Island I was thinking.
If you are local or hoping soon to be one, mark your diary for about this time next year. Buy yourself some tickets online to the Jassy Dean Trust Garden Safari. Head out on Friday night and stay the weekend. Make sure you get out to some of the local cafes and restaurants, drink the local wine, and you will get to enjoy some of the most stunning gardens, homes and and vistas anywhere in New Zealand – and buy yourself a Lotto ticket while you are at it so if you win it you can join the ‘other half’ and build the house of your dreams.
Actually the truth is this island is still very affordable to us mere mortals as well. There is some small corner for everyone out there. The best parts of the island – the beaches, ocean, forests and views -are all free.
Until next week
Iain MacLeod - Southern Man
You have no reason to be aware but I am the father of two teenage boys, one who just turned 19 and the other 16.
I have been giving a lot of thought lately as to how these two sons of mine might be able to enter the Auckland property market in the coming years given the seeming relentless rise in residential property values in this city.
There are now 11 suburbs in Auckland that have reached a median value of NZ$1 million with one now sitting at a median sale value of $1.9 million which could well make it the first to top $2 million in the coming months.
Across the entire city the median house price has climbed to $505,000.
This compares to a national median price of $387,000.
Given the average salary in Auckland (before taxation) is $75,000 this means the median house now costs 6.6 times the average salary.
My eldest son is in his first year of University. I hesitate to call him indolent but he did decide to give up his part time job a couple of weeks ago to ‘enjoy the holidays’ (oh my, to have the choice, the confidence and not a care in the world….) we have had a discussion about the future. House prices. Debt. That sort of thing.
We have this thing in this country called interest free student loans. I’ll give my son some credit – he must have listed to something when studying Economics – he seems to understand that if he borrows the $170 odd a week the Government allows him it is a loan and it does need to be paid back. The risk is it does appear to be cheap easy money which does, when you are 19, look rather attractive.
However I have suggested to him that if he does not change his attitude fairly quickly he will likely leave university in three years time with a student debt of between $10,000 - $30,000. Most of this I hasten to add will not be course fees which average $3000 - $5000 a year but beer and night clubs. I know, I know, but I can only tell him – we were all teenagers once and we also knew everything, remember??
Given most University graduates start with salaries of $50,000 - $60,000 and they need then to start paying back their student loan it seems without parents coming to the rescue with a deposit on even a modest house in a modest area (they do exist in Auckland but are usually a long way out of the central city –away from the clubs and bars……) home ownership might simply no longer be possible for many of our young people.
So what is causing this rise in value given it seems to be only happening in Auckland and to a lesser extent Christchurch?
There are a number of factors:
• Record low interest rates. Floating mortgage rates are currently around the 4.95% – 5.05% range and the banks are lending aggressively once again.
• Migration – both internal from other parts of the country and migrants arriving from overseas – Auckland is where most find work and settle.
• Lack of supply – we are simply not building enough houses and demand is outstripping supply
What is really interesting about all of this is that in his farewell speech (and final monetary policy update) the outgoing Governor of the Reserve Bank last week signalled that notwithstanding the house price inflation in Auckland this is not putting significant upward pressure on overall inflation within the economy. At just 1% and not growing he believes that this is because most New Zealanders who own property (only one third of whom have a mortgage over their property) are (funnily enough) highly geared so they have cut back on discretionary spending. I for one am not surprised. With the size of many of the mortgages people have in this town I am surprised that they can afford to eat!
By 2014, perhaps because of an expected closer alignment between supply and demand in Auckland and given that net migration (from overseas) is running around zero, the Governor sees house price inflation falling to zero.
In the past year median prices in Christchurch have jumped by $15,000 to $371,600.
Why are house prices there in something of an upward spiral – albeit they are starting at a far lower base than Auckland? In a word – earthquakes. The earthquakes of early last year and late 2010 caused a real supply issue and people on the move are competing for stock that is limited. There are simply not enough houses to go around and as people ‘migrate’ from the damaged eastern suburbs to the hardly touched northern and western suburbs there is quite simply not enough decent housing to go around. As the rebuild gets underway as more land is opened up for residential development the pressure there should ease.
In Auckland that $371,600 would buy you something extremely modest in a part of town most people would be looking to leave.
The house price ‘boom’ however is largely restricted to Auckland given the rest of the country is busy paying down their own debts. Hence inflation not being an issue in the country.
While all this is going on the banks remain flush with money and are all marketing home loan products aggressively. Most are back to lending 95% of the property value.
It is my view that interest rates in New Zealand will over the next 12 months will fall further. At the very least they will not rise significantly for some years.
As the Americans, Brits and Europeans continue to print money, our dollar has risen to heights simply not supported by the fundamentals of the economy. Of course it is keeping import prices, especially petrol and imported machinery and consumer goods lower in price (there are always winners and losers with currency movements) but it is hurting exporters who mostly trade using the Greenback.
Of course China is also now set to once again to inject billions into its own economy as it cools given demand for its manufactured goods fall, especially in Europe. And that isn’t the greatest news for New Zealand as China is now our second biggest trading partner after Australia and Australia’s mining boom is clearly over (as the Chinese import less of their dirt).
So my pick is our new Governor over the next few months will be forced to act to try and bring down our dollar and he only has one tool at his disposal to do so – interest rates. With an Overnight Cash Rate (effectively the wholesale rate) sitting at 2.5% our currency remains attractive to the Japanese, Americans and Europeans because our banks will still pay 3-4% on retail deposits which is three to four times what they are getting at home. While it is a vote of confidence in the economic stability, management and future of our economy it is hurting our exporters.
In my opinion the Governor will be forced to move within 6-12 months and that will lower interest rates further but not spark inflation.
I see the Government making no moves to introduce a capital gains tax (that’s right, unbelievable as it might sound we do not have one), stamp duty or other disincentives to keep the residential property market under control in this town. Perhaps they are right in relying on the market to control the fever and perhaps the market will sort things out.
A former client of mine (she of the finest set of pins I have ever laid eyes on - former tennis professional) and her husband just sold a house in a suburb that is ten minutes drive from downtown Auckland. In 1996 the median house price in their suburb of Westmere was a little over $350,000. They just sold theirs for $2,250,000.00 They had paid $932,000 in 2009 and have apparently carried out ‘extensive renovations’. A rough guess tells me that would likely be around $500,000. So a non-taxable profit of around $800,000 for three years work. And these stories are common.
If I am right then house prices in Auckland will continue their upward climb. Across the rest of the country outside of Christchurch they won’t. Given house values in Christchurch by Auckland standards are ludicrously cheap and real estate in Wellington, Dunedin, Tauranga and Napier all look like bargains to we Aucklanders, for most migrants (and University graduates) housing will remain affordable if they don’t settle here or they bring some money with them.
Aucklanders however will continue to wallow in private debt. The rest of the country won’t.
The implications of course for my children are as stark as they are for many migrants who will be joining us here over the next 2-4 years. Migrants from countries like South Africa will simply not be able to afford homes and will be renting forever if they are earning salaries of $50,000 odd a year and living on one income in Auckland.
Anyone that does not land here with at least NZ$100,000 in their pocket will struggle to save enough to put down a deposit on that middle class ‘median’ three bedroom Auckland house if they earn that sort of money. And plenty do – Artisans, Technicians, Personal Assistants, graduate Nurses and graduate Teachers all earn that sort of annual salary. If both partners are working you can save and will get onto the property ladder as overall New Zealand is generally cheaper than somewhere like South Africa or even Singapore. If however you stop to have babies or one of you gets sick then you will be renters for a long time.
If only I could make my 19 year old son see all of that.
Until next week
I spend so much time overseas exploring other people’s countries that I spend precious little time exploring and enjoying my own. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say that saddens me a bit.
Having a beach house doesn’t help. Don’t get me wrong and I don’t want to sound like some pretentious prat but when you have access to a beach house you tend to want to spend your time there to the exclusion of spending that precious leisure time elsewhere.
So it is both a real blessing disappearing regularly to your favourite part of paradise but equally it can be a little restrictive.
So, I have decided that this year I am going to see more of New Zealand and have two trips planned to Central Otago this year – one to Queenstown to play golf in November and on the immediate horizon I am really excited at the prospect of spending the next week completing the Otago Rail Trail with my wife and a few close friends.
This involves mountain bikes, plenty of pub stops, mind blowing scenery and I suspect a rather sore bum.
If you haven’t been to Central Otago add it to your must see list. It is barren, rocky and always brown because in most parts it receives less than 100mm of rain a year. It is like the Great Karoo in South Africa meets Afghanistan (without the roadside bombs) or Iran without the Mullahs. It is New Zealand’s ‘high country’ where the plains meet the sky and the air is so clear mountains tens of kilometres away look like you can reach out and touch them, where the sky is so big and so wide it makes you feel insignificant and the size of an ant. It is a place where the weather is sunny and hot in summer and sunny and cold in winter.
Luckily we will be there when it is neither extreme and we are set to enjoy early autumn which will offer lovely warm days with daytime temperatures in the low to mid 20s Celsius but very cold nights with temperatures as low as 2-5 degrees.
With the changing seasons there is some chance of snow up in the mountains but that is highly unlikely (I sincerely hope so because we can only take 10kgs of luggage and I am an Aucklander and don’t possess ‘snow clothes’).
Perfect for golf. We’ll see about mountain bikes.
I will report back on this next week if I can.
One of the attractions of Central Otago for me is that it is so full of history and represents a region of the country that has been settled by Europeans and a few keen Chinese longer than most other parts. Sparsely occupied (if at all) by Maori when gold was discovered in the early 19th century the population exploded when the gold rush cranked into life. Given the scarcity of trees in that region the architecture represents a period of Victorian England meets often poor but eternally hopeful gold prospectors and settlers and many of the old cob and stone buildings that are still standing have been turned into boutique hotels, B and Bs and the like.
As I thought about what we are likely to see next week and enjoy in parts a landscape and New Zealand heritage little changed in 150 years it occurred to me that migrants tend to look forward at the new life that awaits, the city they have landed in and the new country ripe for exploration and seldom do they look back – except in those times of inevitable homesickness especially among the newly arrived. Those that have always lived some place often look back in time and at our history to better understand who we are and what made us and our world view what it is.
As a self-confessed history junkie I have been reading a wonderful book these past few days by local Journalist Gordon McGlaughlan. Its title is ‘Auckland – A Life and Times’ and as a sort of ‘Brief History of…’ is fascinating and well worth reading for those who have an interest in my home town, why it is here, who settled it and the forces, both natural and human that have shaped it to become what it is.
It is full of wonderful facts and insights.
As a keen geographer and Aucklander I have always been aware of the massive ‘reclamation’ that went on during the 1800s of Auckland’s foreshore. The soft sandstone cliffs in many parts were levelled by pick and shovel, sometimes explosives and carted down the faces barrow load by barrow load to create, through the destruction of some beautiful bays, flat land for the rapidly growing port and commercial activity. This book has allowed me to roll back the years in my mind to a place and time when the rail lines and yards, the wharves, many of the coastal roads and blocks of high rise buildings were not there and picture a place where in the 1830s only a tented ‘city’ existed. Where streams flowed down the valleys of bracken covered hills, slowed and accumulated in swamps of reed and raupo, where eels swam and freshwater crayfish hid among the rocks before the waters that sustained them flowed into the sea through mangroves and coastal estuaries.
Fascinatingly for a city that enjoys more than its fair share of rain one of the biggest constraints on the early city was the availability of fresh water. How ironic after the wet, seeming ‘summerless’, summer we Aucklanders have just had. Although in the 1830s there were only 1500-2000 people living in Auckland fresh water sources quickly became polluted and undrinkable.
There were during those early years only a few sources – the stream known as Horotiu to local Maori that ran down from the ridge along the valley now covered by Queen Street was the most important. Queen Street for those of you who have not walked it is our main Central City road that starts at the ridge now dominated by Karangahape Road at its southern end and which ends at Customs Street which crosses it a block away from the harbour.
About two thirds of the way to the harbour this stream pooled in a large swamp about where Aotea Square and a massive underground carpark is now. It then meandered down through the valley before once again entering a wetland and mixing with the gentle tides that lap this harbour.
Now that same stream is imprisoned in large concrete pipes that feed storm water and the remnants of the steam itself into the Waitemata Harbour.
As I type this I am looking out over Queen Street from my office and imagining a landscape not covered in high rise buildings but a valley cut by Horotiu and guarded by two gently chiselled hills which once would have looked like any valley in this part of the North Island – towering Podocarp forests of Totara and probably Kauri - that most majestic of trees. With Tui, Kereru (native wood pigeon), kaka (native parrot) and all manner of birds wheeling and diving over and through the canopy. At some point Kiwi would have been poking and prodding the ground looking for fat native earthworms.
Now we have glass, concrete and tarmac and the nearest thing to fauna are flocks of pigeons that strut and preen on the window eaves of the oldest buildings that overlook Horotiu’s final resting place.
I have also learned that in the middle of Auckland University (about ten minutes walk from our offices) there exists to this day a fresh water spring which continues to flow with the clearest water that has been filtered over hundreds if not thousands of years by the volcanic rocks of the region.
It is now piped directly into the city’s storm water system which seems a real waste. A clean source of the freshest Aotearoa H2O not being consumed by the good folk of Auckland and thirsty University students is a real shame.
Another major source of fresh water came from a spring that bubbled its way up through the scoria on the northern slopes of that iconic volcanic cone I have written of before, Maungawhau or Mount Eden, and then wound its way down toward what would become Newmarket to collect in a large swamp in what is now Khyber Pass (another imprisoned stream). It was here the first of the big breweries set up shop and until recently, produced some of the world’s finest beers. They needed that fresh water.
It’s funny when you so take for granted the landscape you view daily to stop and consider occasionally what it once looked like. To consider that the water that comes from the tap that you do not think twice about would only 150 years ago have been thought of as an absolute luxury.
Each Aucklander today consumes around 300 litres of water. From about 1830-1850 in Auckland everyone relied on buckets and springs or rainwater. A wash would have been hands and face and a jug and wash basin. It is recorded most of the local population washed every six weeks. I can imagine how nice they’d have been to stand beside on a baking hot summer day in Auckland. No thanks…..
We lost Horotiu but gained personal hygiene.
And next week I am going to see a part of New Zealand that has changed little since the last Ice Age.
Until next week
Southern Man - Iain MacLeod