Pretty on the outside!

NZ is like a stereotypical blonde, pretty to look at but oh so dumb! I now know fully why I stayed away from NZ for so long and why I cannot remain. Racial segregation and thus prejudice is rife in this country, as is disempowerment, exploitation and a low accepted standard for the unknowing masses. Rise up NZ and make the powers that be accountable for the inertia that leaves NZ lagging behind the rest of the Western world.  It shouldn’t be acceptable to be the ugly step sister to Cinderella, yet that’s why NZ’s finest and brightest leave it’s shores to find value and acceptance, overseas.

10 February 2018

What I’m constantly faced with in relation to New Zealand is Te Tiriti O Waitangi. Slaving over it hasn’t resulted in peace or harmony within the Maori community. Nor has it amalgamated New Zealanders. Why? The them and us dichotomy is rife within the ranks of Politics, Healthcare, Education and Industry. Most poignantly, people aren’t able to bench the past and conciliate. This isn’t an issue relegated solely to New Zealand but I do feel that New Zealand could band together and lead the world unified as one people, instead of continuing to be divided and spiralling downwards.

How?

Maori people are warriors and iwi, irrespective of blood would conquer and absorb other iwi. Chief Hone Heke is testament to that, having enslaved many in his conquest of the North Island. By the time, he reached my whanau on the East Coast, he had thousands of people in tow. We have to accept that we were beaten by an invading scourge. I mean no disparagement to my European forefathers, I’m simply calling it for what it was. Dirty, diseased and uncouth aptly frames New Zealand’s white forebears. As does informed of Europe’s distain for bathing. Hence, why many of my Maori ancestors were wiped out by the influenza. The Treaty does signify the operational intelligence that operated amongst my people, but the fact is that a stronger and armed iwi, beat my ancestors squarely, if not fairly. Crying about it almost 200 years later doesn’t give either my whanau or anyone else’s whanau their land back. Financial compensation doesn’t change the past neither does sorry. However, in 2020, anyone that is a citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand is a New Zealander or Kiwi. Even those such as myself who are citizens of other countries. If I’m honest, in my disgust of how New Zealand operates, I have been guilty of having a disparaging viewpoint of New Zealand. Well-founded? Possibly.

In 2018, after living abroad for 24 years, I thought as I’d never been been educated in New Zealand that I’d venture home. I had been accepted into Bond University in Queensland, Canberra University, Notre Dame University in Western Australia, RMIT in Melbourne and the Australian Catholic University in Ballarat. However, I applied to and was accepted into Otago University in Dunedin. I had spent a couple of years sifting through the New Zealand government websites and I was impressed with the inclusion of the Maori language into their websites. As I continued to browse through non-government websites, I saw the same replication of dual language. Thus, mistakenly I put 1 + 1 together and computed 2 but as a child, I also learnt that 1 + 1 = or window. As a child growing up in New Zealand, I had felt the cold hard sting of racism but it was a dual edged sword. Rejection for being Maori was one thing but, as I was raised to speak with a plum in my mouth, I was also rejected for not being Maori enough. Thus, when I saw the websites, I assumed that New Zealand had changed. I also thought there were great parallels between Australia and New Zealand to warrant my simply sliding across. Instead, I slid down and, rapidly. Culture shock is the best description for what I experienced.

Queenstown October 2019

The cost of living in New Zealand is exorbitant but the quality is poor. Petrol prices ranged anywhere from $1.93 with the appropriate discounts to $2.59 per litre. I used to baulk at paying $1.40 per litre in Australia and as I drove around Melbourne, I knew the cheapest places to fill up, such as United on Mahoney’s Road in Thomastown.

The house that Jack built in 1848

Accommodation in Melbourne is costly but the quality partially substantiates it. Thus, my expectation when I moved to Dunedin, due to the similarities in price was the same. Now I know, presumption is the mother of all fuck ups, but in my ardent desire for an All Black, I overlooked that notion. Thus, I was horrendously appalled by accommodation that breaches health and safety standards. One house had an electrical hot water heater that was comparatively aged with myself and this was reflected by the old electrical circuit breakers. Coupled with scorch marks and, burnt and tattered insulation, that didn’t fail to catch my attention. A general lack of cleanliness, long grass with metal objects hidden amongst it leading to the cloths line, missing tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms, old dilapidated carpet, uninsulated windows, uneven and creaking floors. Even after two years, I can still see the condition of those houses. The asking price was and still is priced from $99-200 for a room to $170 to $250 for a one bedroom house. Multiple the rooms by a minimum 4 or 5 and that presents an idea of how costly accomodation in Dunedin can be. One house that I initially moved into on Russell St, the landlord wanted to turn a 1 bedroom into a 2 bedroom by making the lounge a bedroom, for the princely sum of $250 per week. When one receives $320 a week from student support, $250 for a dump is unfeasible.

November 2018 – Accommodation on Castle St Dunedin, near Otago University

Fortunately, I moved into suitable accommodation but having predominantly lived with family, it was a steep learning curve. In some regards it was easier to go from cleaning a 3 bedroom apartment and paying all the bills to sharing a 5 bedroom house, where 2 of the occupants were rarely there and, sharing the cleaning and bills. However, I had to revert back to just focussing on myself, which I hadn’t done for 20 years. Also, I’ve predominantly lived with family, so it was a little disconcerting, especially when one is used to sharing everything. Most people live in sharehouses with random strangers when they’re young as a rite of passage. Better late than never I guess.

Qualifying Quality

I’ve never been a snob when it comes to education and I always thought that all universities were of the same ilk. Reputations were/are just somebody’s opinion. Some are warranted and others, not so much. Now I didn’t select Otago University for it’s reputation, I selected it because it was only 1 or 2 New Zealand universities that offers physiotherapy. Auckland is similar to Melbourne and I wanted a different adventure so, I chose Otago University, apparently one of the best universities in the world. I don’t know who determines the rankings but I spent all of 2018 rueing my decision, lol. However, I did make peace with Dunedin in 2019 and I spent many an evening overlooking the picturesque Otago Bay, in complete peace and contentment.

Let them eat cake!

I worked really hard to earn my bachelor degree, which predated the internet. Having studied Science, it was a case of reading and photocopying journals. Thus, I spent hours and hours camped at Melbourne University in Parkville gleaning reams of information for what seemed a passage or two of useful and useable information. My fellow students and I were drilled exhaustibly on discerning between good and not so good research methods and, the professional presentation of fact. My bioscience lecturers exacted a high level of expectation upon us and trained us accordingly. Occasionally, we were thrown a crumb, usually pertaining to what would be in an exam, but that was it. By default, we learnt how to be strong and independent. The self-discipline that I exacted at Victoria University was exhausting but, satisfying because when I did well, I knew I’d worked hard and deserved it. It was this approach that I utilised when planning Amani’s sport and, when I undertake research on the internet. When looking for information, even now, I remind myself constantly of how difficult it was to find something when I was studying. Thus, I’ll persevere through hundreds of pages on the internet to find a slither of information. In addition, the high level of expectation that I had been set, is what I set for Amani. We were groomed to be the best amongst all other science students and thus, with an All Black mentality, I groomed Amani to be the best. Suffice to say, no stone is or has been left unturned. My education coupled with my father’s expectation and, parenting a highly talented child is responsible for the narcissistic arrogance that afflicted most of my adulthood. Hence, my scorning of anything I considered easy. For a highly capable and clever person, most things were far too easy for my contemplation. The downside of being motivated only by challenging oneself to the extreme is that, one develops a win at all cost mentality. People were viewed clinically as being equal or not. I’ll be frank, I considered most people to be inferior. I didn’t care that they were richer and more successful than I. I judged them solely on what they could do and how gifted their children were. Obviously, I wasn’t liked and didn’t have many friends. However, I didn’t care to make friends and I didn’t care if people liked me. I’d already learnt that it didn’t matter what I did, people weren’t going to like me anyway, so I made sure that they didn’t. Guess what happened when I went to Otago University?

I was shocked at the high degree of molley coddling. The academic standard was so low that, everything that I’d learnt at Victoria University was thrown out the door. I did work throughout the year but my care factor was zilch and for the first time ever I failed, without giving up. I have to qualify that I understood everything that was taught but throughout the year, all that went through my head, was how easy and shit the standard was. I had prided myself on earning everything I had and now, I was subject to being fed everything. People have told me over the years that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. More importantly, I get a kick from outmanoeuvring people who are more better qualified and experienced than I. I’m also great at puzzles and strategy and, I’m always looking for that little trick that makes everything fall into place. I feel redundant when it’s all laid out and all I have to do is pick up the pieces. In my life, that had occurred, never. Honestly, I’ve never been trained to do things the easy way and I don’t know how to do it. I went out on the town in Christchurch, September 2019. I remember speaking to one guy who I bought a drink. He was shocked that I didn’t use my feminine wiles to get some schmuck to ply me with drinks. As a strong and independent woman, it never dawns on me to do that. Upon reflection, narcissistic arrogance is responsible for that, I can’t brag that I’ve done everything on my own if somebody else does and pays for things. That and the fact that using people is contemptuous. However, I am starting to think that easy street is a great street to live on. Whatever that means!

What I did recognise is that by handing everything to students on a silver platter, eliminates the capacity to think for ones selves. Thus, making for a subjugal workforce that can be trained to perform tasks but, won’t speak out and make necessary changes. I suspect this is one of the reasons for New Zealand’s low payrates. New Zealand $17.70 vs Australian $24.49 casual minimum wage per hour. I applied for permanent Community Development positions in Dunedin and Melbourne that paid between $24 to $27 an hour vs $40 to $43.27, respectively. I also worked in construction in Melbourne, which paid $27 between 0700-1600, $40.50 between 1600 to 1800 and $47 between 1800 to 2400, for non-unionised work. Unionised work pays $55 an hour from 0700-1600 and, $103 an hour from 1600 to 0700 and during the weekend. New Zealand pays $20 an hour and if you’re really lucky up to $27 an hour. All ones christmases have to come at once to be paid $27 an hour. I’m also a trained Clinical Pilates Instructor, which averages $60 an hour in Australia but with payrates of $20 an hour in New Zealand, I won’t even roll over in bed to consider that amount. It goes without saying I didn’t apply for a single instructor or labouring position. It also comes as no surprise that I’m back in Melbourne. I’m not about money but I have become accustomed to having my nails and hair done professionally, eating well and travelling. I can’t do that comfortably on New Zealand wages.

Extraordinary people are shaped by ordinary events in extraordinary circumstances

28 August 2019

I met a girl undertaking a PhD and her naivety was astounding. She stated that 25% of drownings occur in the Maori population and, she didn’t want to lead our people but allow them to do as they wanted. The latter partially explains why we’re dying prematurely. I was brought up with the sink or swim mentality, where one learnt to swim by overcoming a drowning incident. I’ve almost drowned twice but I can swim well as a consequence. In light of the high volume of indigenous drownings, I corrected her by stating ignorance is killing our people and that they need leadership and, with a PhD, she by default was a leader. I did see the penny drop and I would like to see that 25% reduced as close as possible to 0%. Truth be told, drownings in a country such as New Zealand, where the abundance of creeks where one can learn to swim easily, means drownings should be as rare as hens teeth.

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I fully accept and recognise that as an educated and astute individual New Zealand is greatly in need of my skillset. I am torn between my cushy lifestyle in Australia and my obligatory duty to a country, that I theoretically call home but I don’t fit or belong in. That too could be a theory as I did enjoy spending October, November and December in New Zealand. However, I wasn’t operating as one normally would ie working, paying for accommodation and bills, running a household and everything that a normal person would be expected to do. Although, I’m not doing that in Australia either. The boys father having had a stroke means that I need to be in Australia for Amani, who wishes to remain here just in case something happens to him. Amani is independent and doesn’t live with me so, theoretically I don’t need to remain in Australia. However, I do need to steer him down a path where he can be productive and lead a decent life, preferably within the sports circles where he’s spent his entire life. We’ll see what happens!

Keys to New Zealand’s demise

Generally speaking, I avoid politics. Voting against former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett is the only time I’ve ever been motivated to vote properly. Usually, I render my voting papers ineligible for counting, because as far as I’m concerned all Politicians are the same, self-serving of themselves and their croonies. My understanding is that former New Zealand Prime Minister John Keys is responsible for much of New Zealand’s recent demise. However, Muldoon and Rogernomics that destroyed unionism and introduced GST set a devastating precedence. Early 2018, I was deeply angered by the political climate in New Zealand and I felt that Winston Peters, whom is still around after so many years, had simply stood by and watched New Zealand decline. I was advised that Winston was one of the better politicians and that he hangs around because there is no other worthy Maori leader that has his temerity. I guess he’s demonstrated that by putting Adern into power, whom people in Australia are most admiring of. As a notorious fence sitter, I’ll await with abated breath.

Lake Mahinapua outside of Hokitika

Writing is my saving grace and my dual edged sword, that cuts through perceived truths.

5 January 2020

Get sick at your own peril

I’m fortunate to be very healthy but that isn’t the case for many. Almost a third of the population in New Zealand and Australia are overweight and obese and there are known complications associated with that. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease are two side effects, which is why New Zealand government operated Green Prescription and Active Family initiatives exist. These are good programmes but they’re reactive not proactive and only for people who are physically in trouble ie obese. Technology is answerable to the sedentary lifestyle afflicting society, but more so is greed and profit. Big business such as fast food giants McDonalds, KFC, Hungry Jacks aka Burger King and many food conglomerates which are responsible for pumping known contributors to poor health, fat and sugar into the community are equally if not more answerable. Globalisation makes puppet governments accountable to big business for ensuring they make money, otherwise they can be sued. Therefore, it’s not in the New Zealand’s or Australian governments interest to reduce the cost of food and health services. Although, ironically the cost of junk food within the supermarkets is often discounted.

I rarely attend the doctors but in Australia, I’m used to Medicare covering the cost. I’ve never had to pay to see a GP, thus when I was informed that I the average price of seeing one in Dunedin was $50, I was astounded. The cost aside, one was forced to stick to the same GP, because that was the discounted loyalty price. To add insult injury, it’s also $15 for a prescription. However, my understanding is that medication is free. No, that medication cost $65. Subsidised medication in Australia is about $6. Thus, if I need to go to a GP in Australia and I need medication, $6 is what I may have to pay. $9 or $10 is the most I’ve paid for unsubsidised medication. I’ve done that twice in 26 years. I’ve paid less than $300 for medications in total, $170 was for vaccinations for when I was contemplating undertaking a physiotherapist degree. I’ve paid more for sports tape and instant ice. All in all, I think I’m winning. However, I tend to avoid attending doctors clinics because there are sick people there with contagious germs, lol.

Amani needed a mandibular xray for the dentist recently and Medicare covered the cost. I’ve never paid for an xray. I’ve also never paid for an optometrist or opthalmetrist for my right end which I’m supposed to have checked every six months. When I obtained my New Zealand licence in 2018, I had to pay $29 for an optometrist to test my right eye’s peripheral response to changes in randomly placed objects. I prefer to drive manual cars which forces me to be alert because I don’t want to stop completely and need to recommence the dance of feet and hands. Although, it’s now physically automated, so it’s no big deal. I blitzed through the test as I’m used to driving Melbourne’s busy roads, so my right hand peripheral vision is excellent. After all it was my right eye that saw the car that failed to stop at a red light and that crashed into Moishi Moishi my one of a kind, colourfully painted Kia Rio.

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In Christchurch September 2019, I caught an innocuous streptococcus throat infection that rendered me physically ill and prevented me from eating properly. In light of the cost, I refused to attend the doctors and the condition worsened extensively. Fortunately, I returned to Australia October 1 and just being in an environment where I knew I could obtain free medical care was enough to remedy the situation. That and the fact that I was at home.

New Zealand’s ACC that looks after New Zealanders health and wellbeing, seems to be great on paper. I read and was suitably impressed by the ACC act when applying for an administrative case manager position that paid a measly $67,000 ($20,000 below the average Australian wage when one accounts for the differences in currency). However, after speaking with a 70 year old security guard and former nurse Kathy, who’s husband is bedridden due to bungled operations, has almost been completely cut off from ACC support. Thus, it’s partially the reason why she’s working beyond retirement age and why she’s likely to continue working for a few more years yet. She herself had a shoulder operation last year, after a failed attempt of assisting her husband in 2018. Her assessment of working within and receiving support from the ACC was poor, to say the very least.

Where too from here?

I know butting my head against the established regime only exacerbates matters. Thus, I do surrender to the New Zealand’s climate of deeply embedded antipathy which is collectively global, as resistance is not only futile but augments it. Although, it’s easy to say such things, when I’m lying in bed in Melbourne, tapping away on my Macbook. However, I’ve always walked the talk and as I’ve relinquished my destructive mental constructs, I’m sure that I’ll do exactly that.

Where to from here? Hmmm the musical notes of love, creativity, innovation, fulfilment, knowledge, wisdom and intelligence are playing dulcetly. I couch surfed my way through 2019 and as I’m on my life’s path, I only suffered when I tried to unsuccessfully buck the system. Like any rat running the gauntlet, I can be trained to stay on track. Right here right now, I have no idea what or where that track is. All I know is that I enjoy writing and the siren call of music calls to me silkily. After many years of ignoring the lure, it’s time to get caught!

Dance, music and writing are an intimate expression of my soul in any given moment.  

January 2020

Published by Kaukau Karauria

Living life confidently

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