columns by Nicole Brown
by Danielle Whitburn
What Makes the New Zealand Grass Greener?
ew Zealand is a very dynamic country and one which is seen through many different perspectives. There’s the ‘tourist’, the ‘immigrant’, the ‘indigenous people’ and the ‘Kiwi’; for each of these groups of people, New Zealand is unique. Being an immigrant myself, I feel that I’ve seen snippets of the tourist and the immigrant. Before moving to the land of the long white cloud, I had a much distorted image of Kiwi culture, not helped by my vivid imagination. Before my first visit, I had absolutely no idea who Maori were – I had some sort of American Indian tribe in my head running around in a desert. Not only am I severely lacking in general geographical knowledge but the Scottish education system doesn’t explain culture very well. I am glad to say that my cultural ignorance has since diminished, however this example is a direct portrayal of this sacred cultural treasure to NZ tourists. Those people who come to NZ to experience this rich culture are not exposed to the deeper spiritual values such as tikanga, tangata whenua and turangawaewae, just to name a few. Instead they see the lavish performances with colourful costumes, poi poi dancing and the world-renowned power of the haka. This ‘show’ is and never will be a true representation of the value of the Maori community and their significance within New Zealand. On the other hand, the immigrant gets more of an insight. A permanent residency visa is the equivalent of the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s factory as far as attaining a better understanding of Kiwiland goes. A large part of being able to gain this understanding is actually living in NZ. Be it Auckland or Invercargill, the personal connection that you make with New Zealand as a resident can go much further. As we develop experiences and memories in relation to the country, they are never the same for us. A good illustration of this would be New Zealand’s social dimension. With its café culture and recreational activities, New Zealand is the perfect place to relax, meet new people or try new things. This combination allows us to experience the area and the people as locals over a longer period of time than the tourist, meaning we can gauge a better appreciation of the personality of Aotearoa. For the Kiwi, there are many conflicts in their view of Aotearoa. When asking a young Kiwi student his take on NZ, his words were “if money were not a problem, New Zealand would be the best country to live in, in the world”. And it’s true. This country is turning into the world’s retirement village. This all comes down to New Zealand wealth being held by the Baby Boomers and overseas investors and if you fall into these categories, I’m sure you think New Zealand is a wonderful place. However, for the student readers, this is a teeny problem and the root cause for so many graduates fleeing the country with their degrees. Although these perspectives are narrow, I think generally it would be agreed that unless you are a Kiwi in a stable, well paid job, a visitor or about to retire – New Zealand has its limitations. That said, the pretty impressive scenery, spectacular summer, outgoing attitude and general amazingness of the country definitely does it for me!
Having It All:
What It Means To Achieve Success
earing the end of a frustratingly busy post-grad, one does have to ask the question: just how far do you have to go to achieve success? Dressing up in your finest designers, hair-free, spot-free, 1990s-style-free, seems to do the trick – sometimes. Nerding it up at your old friend ‘The Library’ – almost always. Prettying up that CV – monetarily. The problem is, different types of success come through different measures and attempts. But what happens if you want it all? We’ve all seen what happens when you push yourself too far; the best evidence of that is Japan’s suicide rates. Yet there is a juggling act everyday in our lives (or at least mine) because of it: what is expected of you and how much you can actually perform. Not meaning you can’t ‘perform’. More that, you can’t eat, work, look fabulous, maintain a great relationship, watch Jersey Shore, lift weights and be the envy of all and sundry all at the same time. To be honest, I get tired just reading it. Instead of achieving all these wonderful things, we see in success’ place a slow deterioration of the face: dark circles. We see a change in attitude: lack of concentration. We see a change in stance: the tightened, Deidre from Coronation Street neck vein posture. All is not well in a self-indulged hell, where you are the subject and the world your audience. Life starts to become a treadmill, and you a hateful hamster. This wheel is boring: you want to drink, you want to dance, you want to get your crazy pants on. Nothing is fun and everything takes too long. You try and maintain a front of calmness, pretending you are on top of things. A quick smile to a fellow worker turns into a sarky snarl, because your facial muscles no longer do what you tell them to. You babysit for extra money and start to think you have missed a career with Disney as a reallife version of Casper the Friendly Ghost. You have lately become recognisable by a small stain of food on your clothes where you ate on the run, sometimes accompanied by a complementary coffee stain. “No time”, you foghorn to the world, when time is really what you should be spending on maintaining yourself. It is that time of the reappearance of that other friend, Stress, always uninvited and never warmly received. After Stress has had a few nights on your psychological sofa, you decide it’s time to kick them out. They always require so much attention. Complacency comes over instead to keep you company. But being complacent about your success is like shopping at Valleygirl only to see Gucci across the road: a sight which, although now possible in Auckland, is just too disheartening. Everything feels that bit harsher and less desirable. The poor-quality cotton of your reality starts to find threads of discontent and it’s back to those spooky red lines on the side of your eyes. Your personal price tag seems pretty low, just like those nightmares you have had of your next essay’s grades. Being behind is never as much fun as skiving off something you have to do, especially when the end result just isn’t that glamorous. If this sounds like you, never fear: we’re almost at the end of the year. Beauty spas and dingy cars await the end of class, when your summer will begin. The coffee stains will fade, and your days will be filled with the sound of silence. But is that the true meaning of success? Only your survival through the next few weeks will tell.
Welcome to the final issue of debate for 2011, brought to you by AuSM.