Tiki Tours Back Home

There’s something about my homeland that is unparalleled. Perhaps it’s that it is the first country to glimpse the sunrise each day. Perhaps it is the remoteness from the rest of the world. Perhaps it’s the abundant landscape in glossy brochures. Nope, that’s not it. New Zealand holds memories, familiarity and a sense of belonging for me. The New Zealand government has recently launched a campaign called The New Zealand Story aimed at businesses to show just how great our wee little country really is. Despite the business purpose, it gives a peek at our national pride. It makes us forget fierce regional rugby divides and come together as one people.

I experienced this feeling on my last trip back home. Our 777 aircraft passed through a very long white cloud. The grey metal beast emerged from the sky, flying over a green checkerboard that is surrounded by immaculate beaches. We touched down on home soil and the feeling grew stronger. Our friendly bus driver checked if we had any mates missing before we departed for home. There was a child on board but surprisingly no screaming. There were snorers in the seat in front catching zzz’s. Fantastic views of middle earth were just beyond my grasp. Spring lambs bounded about in dewy paddocks that sat pronounced against a baby blue sky with stretches of clouds drifting above. We passed Mount Taupiri where the legend Billy T James is buried. All that was missing from the experience was a mince pie from the corner dairy, and you can get one when the bus stops. This is home. This is what it is all about.

I know the country intimately, from the Coromandel beaches to the mighty peaks of the Southern Alps. I know the people will be laid back, practical and friendly everywhere you go. We say hello in lifts, we live customer service, we are proud to be a part of such a great country. We invented some great things, bungy jumps, jetpacks and pineapple lumps. When travelling overseas, people ask where you are from and I proudly reply: New Zealand. It doesn’t matter that they do not know where it is, that we are some remote pairing of two little islands and lots of tiny ones that have been cobbled together, that it takes at least three hours by plane to the closest neighbor, Australia. It doesn’t matter that we are the youngest country on earth and we don’t have rich history dating back thousands of years.

We embrace the history we do have, we unite as one group of people, we fight for what we believe in and hold our politicians to account (Rainbow Warrior protests, involvement in international peacekeeping, first women to get the vote). Kiwis love to travel. Politicians trivialise the exploitative nature we possess and label it the ‘brain drain’ but sometimes you have to leave in order to appreciate your own back yard. When we return from our Kiwi OE, we all say the same thing every time: there’s no place like home. And there really isn’t. Not by a long shot.

Go the Kiwi’s Black Caps for the win today, kia kaha!

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