At 7:00pm tonight, at the Bruce Mason Centre I will be sworn in as a New Zealand citizen.
I could have sent in the paperwork and done this at any point over the past 15 years or so as I have met the criteria for claiming Kiwi citizenship for quite a long time now.
My Canadian passport came up for renewal, and the children’s did around the same time, so I thought we may as well all have our passports renewed at the same time and I ought to just get my Kiwi one organised.
I would hazard a guess there are few people on the planet as frequently and genuinely grateful to be living in their surrogate country as I am to be here in New Zealand.
For those of you who don’t live here, or don’t know much about this Island Paradise, here’s a buzz feed of 69 facts about New Zealand you might find interesting.
I know that my country of choice is far from perfect, and the vast imperfections are highlighted as we lead up to the November election. The most pressing concerns as far as myself and my family are concerned being our abhorrent domestic violence and poverty, and our energy and environmental policies. There’s plenty more to discuss, but I’ll leave it there.
So on this, the first official day of what I hope will be a long and happy life as a Kiwi, I thought I’d share with you a quick list of things that make me think of New Zealand.
1) Rainforest, streams, birds, big trees, tramping, nothing that will kill you (no snakes or bears or vicious animals at all in our gentle little Island paradise), scenery, greenery and beautiful coastline. So… Nature. We got it in spades down here.
2) Punching above our weight. We’re a nation of overachievers. Sure lots of Kiwis head offshore for a time and seek fame or fortune abroad, but once New Zealand is in your heart, there’s a very good chance you’ll return. We do very well at the Olympics. We are currently the greatest Rugby nation on earth. We share great business and academic minds with the world. I feel that New Zealand and Canada share this mentality to punch above our weight, as we both have larger nations to compete with. Kiwis have the Ozzies and Canadians have the ‘Mericans. It gives us kind of a stroppy younger sibling mentality in some ways I think, and that means as a nation and as individuals we are often seen on the world stage. Grumpy’s company Serato is a great example of this, and I am consistently baffled as to why, as a nation, we don’t celebrate our successful sons and daughters a bit more here at home. Guess it is that whole humility thing and the tall poppy mentality. Grumpy himself certainly doesn’t want to be “celebrated” and prefers to keep to himself. I think that’s pretty cool, and typically Kiwi.
3) I’m not the only person who seems to like this temperate Island Nation. There’s a certain type of chilled out rich and/or famous person who seems to be attracted to these shores. We play host to lots of celebrities of note. Some stay for a while and speak highly of our Island Nation (Stephen Fry, Ian McKellen, Tom Cruise, etc…) Others plant roots here and call NZ home. Some of my favourite implanted people who now reside here include James Cameron, Shania Twain and/or Mutt Lange and there’s a long list of other people who have or continue to own property and frequent New Zealand as they too believe it is just about the most perfect place on the planet.
4) Food. Oh my goodness, do we understand food. Fresh produce, a year-round growing season for a vast and breathtaking array of fruits and vegetables. Organic produce and meats and cheeses. Beautiful wine, honey, and native herbs and spices. We don’t ascribe to pre-packaged fast-food and empty calories mentality. It has snuck in a little, and there’s plenty of KFC, McDonalds, Wendy’s and other fast food chains that help contribute to us being an embarrassingly fat nation, but in our defence, lovely fresh and healthy food is available here year round if you’re willing to go out and get it. We have countless markets ranging from cheap and cheerful places where you pick up produce from the farmer himself, to high end French style markets boasting delicious but dear morsels.
5) Diversity. We have an amazing ethnic diversity. We are the largest Polynesian island and boast the largest Polynesian population. People from Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, Cook Islands, Niue, and even the Melanesian island nations have enriched this country with their food, sporting prowess, arts, music and culture. We also have a rich and vibrant Asian population and more and more people from around the world are bringing their gifts and talents to our shores. Aside from ethnic diversity, we have an amazing biodiversity. We have the only natural prehistoric forest left on earth. Tramp into the Waitakere ranges, and you’ll be seeing plants exactly as they looked when dinosaurs ruled the earth.
I could go on and on about New Zealand and how great it is, but I have kids to get to school and I’m sure you have things to do as well.
Wish me luck for tonight’s ceremony.