Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I know I am doing the right thing but....

I know we are doing the right thing by living in New Zealand but it doesn't make it any easier when it comes to saying goodbye to people when they have to fly home. My parents have been here three months and last week we had to say goodbye again at the airport. I am sure Wellington airport is used to crying children and teary faced adults but it was treated to quite a scene when my youngest daughter realised that she couldn't go through security with Nan and Grandad, and no she couldn't travel in the suitcase either. At that point I was considering climbing inside one of the suitcases as well!

Having to say goodbye to people is a big downside of living here. As J's teacher helpfully pointed out you cant really get any further away from the UK than New Zealand. In this blog I am trying to point out all the aspects of moving this far, so I have to state that saying goodbye to my parents again was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Its like someone cuts of an arm and expects you to carry on playing the piano like before.

I think I am probably being a bit overly dramatic here. The great thing about living on the other side of the world today is that I can actually talk to, and see, my Mum and Dad every morning (and evening if I want!) for free via Skype. So my girls talk to their Nan over WeetBix and toast in the morning and I have chat in the evening. It is so easy to keep in touch that I probably talk to most of my relatives more than when we lived in the UK.

So this week we have been keeping busy and reminding ourselves why we moved this far from home. We decided to go camping at Kaitoke. It was one of the first places we visited when we arrived almost exactly a year ago. We spotted people camping there then and immediately decided we would have to do that as well!

Putting up the tent was easy and A and J helped enormously as you can see!

J in her snazzy hat.

Kaitoke really is a beautiful spot!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Marine Drive and a Visit from Bluey

It was a very exciting night this week when J became "Star of the Day" at school and earned the right to bring Bluey home. Bluey is the class bear and you have to write a short story about his adventures at your house. As you can see from the photos below Bluey had a good time at our house.

He took part in a bit of Wii Fit!

He met lots of new friends.

This is the last weekend before Mum and Dad go back home so we decided to take them on one of the most spectacular drives in Wellington. We headed out towards Scorching Bay and Breakers Bay along the coast road.

Its amazing the way the huge Ferries negotiate such a narrow entry into Wellington Bay.

J watching the Ferry at Breakers Bay.

Looking for pebbles and watching the surfers.

Planes coming into land at Lyall Bay.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Finding the Flag for New Zealand

This Waitangi Day the New Zealand flag was flown all over the country in celebration of the signing of the the Treaty. In Wellington and many other towns and cities the Tino rangatiratanga flag (Maori Flag) was also flown alongside it. According to wikipedia 'tino rangatiratanga" means absolute/unqualified chieftainship and is used to represent Maori independence.

This move has sparked a debate about whether or not New Zealand should have a new flag that embraces all the people, of all races and has less emphasis on the link with the UK. Feelings have become so heated in some areas that the current flag has been burned. One member of the Republican party who was part of the flag burning in Hamilton claimed that the current flag is a fictitious creation bearing no relation to the people of New Zealand today. Other people, such as John Key seem to take it less seriously famously saying this week that he had other more important things to worry about!

I think the choice of flag is actually a very serious business. If you choose the wrong one, a symbol that everyone can't unite beneath, it can lead to massive division. If you allow your flag to be hijacked by one section of society and used to represent something that the majority do not agree with it can also cause massive problems. In the UK the Union Jack has been used by many far right (neo nazi) groups and even the BNP and has now become so associated with them that most people would be ashamed to fly the Union Jack. It no longer represents the the country as a whole.

I like the fact that schools and often individuals house round here fly the New Zealand flag and I hope that this doesn't change.

I think that there is an obvious solution to this problem and that although I like the link New Zealand has to the UK it is probably time to drop the British Flag from its prominent position. I think all Kiwis could unite under a new flag that has neither the colonial connotations or is solely for the Maori people. I like the silver fern used by the sporting teams and, I believe similar to the Maple leaf in Canada, it could come to represent this country really well.
I will climb down from my soap box now!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Waitangi Day Celebrations in Wellington

This Saturday we decided to head into Wellington again to join in with the Waitangi Day celebrations. This day marks the signing of the Waitangi Treaty on February 6th 1840. The Treaty was signed between representatives of the British crown and various Maori Tribal Chiefs and gave New Zealand a British Governor and provided Maori with all the rights of British citizens. It also recognised Maori land ownership and gave Great Britain sovereignty over New Zealand. It is considered by many to be the founding document of New Zealand.

The Treaty was written in two versions, one in English and one in Maori. This has led to various problems as the two versions actually say slightly different things so there is no definitive consensus as to what was actually agreed at Waitangi. Nevertheless it is obviously a very good excuse to celebrate by dancing a lot, listening to some good Reggae music, eating a lot of ice-cream and watermelon and generally having a good time in the sun.

There was a really good drumming group that got most of the crowd dancing.

The boys really got into doing a their Haka dance.

Some really beautiful dancing.

It was also the Rubgy 7s in Wellington this Saturday. This meant that as we wandered along the waterfront we kept being passed by people dressed up in a wide variety of weird and wonderful costumes. It seems to be the tradition to dress up in order to watch the 7 minute rugby matches.

The girls were delighted by Batman and Robin in flip flops, a whole troupe of bright red crabs, Roman Centurions and a group of Crusty the Clowns. It made our walk back to the car extremely entertaining!