Seven years ago, my wife and I decided to leave the UK and to head out for pastures new. This was not a spontaneous decision, as we were leaving my aged father and my newly engaged daughter in Scotland, as well as many good friends and relatives.
I was fed up with the UK. All of these years of Labour governments and the corrosive influence of the EU had changed the society in which I had been brought up.
Basic values of decency and politeness had been eroded.
The traditional “British stiff upper lip” had been replaced with an almost desperate need to share emotions of all sorts. Look at the outpouring of “grief” when the Bimbo of Westminster (aka Diana, Princess of Wales)had been killed in her lover’s car.
No wonder HM The Queen had been taken aback by the emotional show, most of our generation were also upset. Not by the death, sad though it was, but by the outpouring of pseudo-emotion demanded by an increasingly hysterical media.
I wanted to live in a country where the government would mostly leave you alone.
I wanted to live in a country where emotions were treasured and private.
I wanted to live in a country where the bloody national team of the national game would occasionally actually win.
Oh yes. We also wanted to live in a country where the winters didn’t cause burst pipes, 2 metre snow-drifts and incipient hypothermia just sitting in a room.
I’m a teacher and I am only fluent in English, so to earn our daily bread I would have to choose a country where English (or a close analogue) was the chosen medium of communication.
This left either:
- South Africa
- New Zealand
Our choice was based on many criteria, but essentially we decided that
Canada was just too cold in the winter, and had too many bad French influences(i.e. culture not food)
South Africa was just too unstable, we didn’t know if it was going to survive in any recognisable form in the future
The USA was a distinct possibility, but the more I read about their school structure, the more I realised I would have to move into the private school system to earn reasonable money and have a reasonable life expectancy, and I have an ingrained Scottish egalitarianistic horror of Private Education, where money is the sole criteria for entry.
Australia looked good. Reasonable public school system, even though it seemed under some pressure. Reasonable English used, though much abused and semi-degenerate in form and pronunciation. Great weather, mild winters and nicely hot summers. But then we had to consider sharks, toxic jellyfish, poisonous spiders, the most dangerous snakes in the world, brush fires and Fosters Beer. I just found out that they have a sake-eating spider. This is going too far, even for the Aussies.
New Zealand wasn’t on top of our list at the start. I didn’t really know that much about it. I knew it used to supply lamb and soldiers for the consumption of the British Empire and had two islands. I knew it had been cruelly shafted by the UK on entry to the EU, and I was pretty certain that they spoke English of some sort. Oh yes, I thought they had Maori. Further investigation disclosed that NZ had:
Gentle climate, mild winters in the North Island
Cows now outnumbered sheep, which still outnumbered people.
Soldiers were no longer cultivated, they had professional peacekeepers instead.
The public school system was fairly robust.
They did have Maori
English was spoken and the celebration of the language was fairly sophisticated. They actually had theatres!
They had no poisonous spiders, jellyfish or snakes.
It had a stable but odd form of democratic government, currently in full Labour Nanny-mode (We know what’s best for you, so be reasonable and do as we say, or we’ll get really upset and might give you a hug.) But had a basically commonsense approach to people and government, which mostly precluded extremes. The general population was polite, friendly and helpful.
They were very broad-minded;
They had been the first to give women the vote.
They were trying to rectify ancient wrongs to their indigenous Peoples (bloody minded though some of them undoubtedly were)
They allowed same-sex marriages
They even had a Green party, and you can’t be more even-handed than that. (I personally think that the Greens are OK, as long as they’re used as fuel in environmentally sensitive power stations)
We decided on New Zealand. You may say that the fact that sheep don’t bite was a deciding factor, but I couldn’t possibly comment.
We’ve been here for 6 ½ years now, and we have no intention of returning to the UK.
New Zealand is our home.
There are many, many factors I could use to explain our decision to stay and adopt NZ as our little home in the world, and I’ll try and summarise.
New Zealand is a beautiful and diverse country, populated by a low density of friendly, hospitable and diverse people.
All else is good, but the low numbers of people is great. Imagine standing on the one of the best known beaches in New Zealand, on New Year’s Day, under a fluorescent blue sky with a warming sun, with clear blue waves washing ashore, and one other family in sight. They were about 1.5 km away, and I had to use binoculars to see them. They were doing the same we were, having a barbecue and playing in the waves.
You can stick the ancient castles, broad green lawns of the stratified and class-riddled system of the UK.
We’re applying for NZ citizenship this year.
OH, oh I forgot. We have the best Ice Cream in the world, and the cheapest.