I was in Waitarere Beach over the weekend. We booked a bach up there for a paltry sum and we drove up Friday afternoon to get out of the city and recharge. It’s an interesting part of the country. I stopped at the supermarket in Levin to get some beer and sausages and while I was waiting in line I was approached by a young man with iris’s as wide as saucers.
“Excuse me sir,” he said, clutching his WINZ payment card, “would you be able to pay for your groceries on my card and give me the cash in return?” Now, I lost a friend a couple of years back to Methamphetamine and this young guy was clearly in its thrall. “I’m sorry” I said, and turned back to the cashier, feeling guilty. He wandered down the line to see if anyone else was going to help him and I looked up to see who had seen my interaction. The next thing that struck me was that almost every cashier was an older woman, past middle-age, earning minimum pay.
You can’t discount the media love of National. We are a “rock star” economy. Public service has been pared to the bone. Texan companies wander our country drilling and fracking for the next black gold rush. Farmers are making more money than lawyers. The house prices are booming and a surplus seems imminent. National dropped our taxes. Education is undergoing one of the most radical transformations in history. The opposition are not only a sideshow joke at best, at worst they appear weak.
I’ve met John Key. He is a man with charisma, a banker with a Jewish heritage and a work output that would put most of our CEO’s to shame. He runs a cabinet of clever people, he runs them, and he is tireless in promoting his vision for a prosperous New Zealand. He has a certain mana, this boy that grew up in a state house and made good. He is pragmatic, down to earth, smart, and super rich. He is what we aspire to be.
Back in Waitarere Beach, its Saturday afternoon and the wind is hot and howling off the Tasman. Children play in the street as waves of sand wash up the road and women leave the dairy with loaves of white bread and bottles of Coca Cola. The houses are stark in their polarity. Beautiful constructions of five or more bedrooms, three bathrooms, sea views, and spa pools versus old houses where paint falls slowly, windows are curtained to keep the sun out, and the grass grows long. Beamers and beaters line up outside the dairy.
John’s opposition is broken. Perhaps the reason why he polls so high. Labour continues to have deep rifts, they have burned out David Shearer, probably their best hope, and talk around town is that the division between those that have balls and those that don’t is alive and well. David Cunliffe doesn’t stand a chance in this environment. Eventually he too will fall on the wayside.
The Greens come across, perhaps thanks to mainstream media, as shrieking bunch of sirens who warn us that “everything is bad”, while not giving us any ideas or alternatives. We must abandon cars, we must abandon dairy, we must abandon oil, we must abandon everything for an uncertain future.
I was in Gisborne recently for my brother’s wedding. An affair that was a long time coming and well overdue. They were married on one of the most pristine beaches in the world. Her in a full wedding dress and him in formal board shorts and jandals. Families from all over the country attended. It does my heart good to see my youngest brother married now. He had to get everything right before it came off. But it did. There story is interesting. Both young and looking to the future they left New Zealand a handful of years ago to earn enough money to buy a house.
Perth allowed them to save enough money to get a deposit. My little brother earned earned three times what he could hear as a heavy diesel mechanic there. My sister-in-law gave up nursing to drive heavy trucks, it paid her three times what she could slaving her life away in a hospital dealing with the most desperate.
The outlying political parties are a sideshow. A freak show in some cases if the truth is told. Let’s roll out Colin Craig, a passionate man no doubt, but with ideas that belong in the 1950′s in my opinion. Let’s see if we can prod him through the bars and get a lawyer’s letter flying in our direction. ACT. Old ideas desperately rebadged as new, that cartel of conservative with no new blood. If we throw them cash will they perform like dancing bears?
I drove around Gisborne. A place that I spent twelve years living in. From million dollar mansions to state houses where the windows had been smashed out and “narc” had been painted in six foot high letters. Kids with no shoes and little hope. An underground economy of drugs run by gangs. I watched as a motorbike gang rode through town, it’s weed season in the city and the coast offers endless option for methamphetamine labs, Walter White would be proud. In the middle of this cavalcade of heavily tattooed bikers, a teenage boy rode his scooter, a big smile on his face, mocking these white gang members.
National rides the wave for two reasons. There are no good alternatives and we have entered an almost Stockholm Syndrome like haze. If there is no alternative, then we must vote for the strongest. No matter how much we worry this path is taking us further away from who we are. In John We Trust.
Winston Peters rolls out the anti-immigration card, failing to recognise that all of us, Maori, and later, are immigrants. We are an immigrant nation. What else does he have to offer? A man that is desperate to hold to power seeks to find the thing that scares us most and exploit it. The Chinese are buying all of our land after all.
In the deep south, Fiordland, I met a man at Christmas. He was white and a mountain. In his fifties, as ugly as sin, a labourer who holidayed at Manapouri, I met him in the local pub, he had a heart of gold and t-shirt that said “Babe Magnet”. His wife was as kind as the day is long in summer in those parts, smoking and sun given her the face of leather.
“What do you make of these politicians” I asked, “Well,” he responded. “All politicians are corrupt. Some of them start with only 1% corruption, and some more, but over time, that corruption increases to consume their very self. In the end, all the have is the game, the money, and the faux power they believe they wield. They are sad, lonely, and desperate people who have lost connection with their land.”
The Maori Parties have lost their way. This is something that disappoints and distresses me greatly. Such a resurgence of activism with the idealistic view that they were the land’s caretakers. Something that we lack. No party gets the balance right and yet for New Zealander’s land defines our being. Now these parties are fractured with the old vanguards retiring and the vote split. The Maori Party is seen as watered down while the Harawira clan are seen as racist and separatist. Together we stand, divided we fall.
In Waitarere Beach, the neighbours are from Khandallah, they drive an Audi and a BMW, respectively, the local kids play in the drifting sand, white and brown, the Sail on Inn pours beers for us, somehow we are all equal, and we give not a fuck about the politicians. There is no Stockholm Syndrome here…