I’ve visited Islands before, but my visits were not for long periods of times. I’ve noticed some differences from mainland thinking in the United States and here in New Zealand.
For one thing there are three kinds of trash pick; rubbish for landfills, paper, plastic and glass for recycling and organic materials, for compost. People seem to have an awareness of the islands geographic limits. They work to sustain the land that sustains them . Recently on television there were shows about constructing a sustainable house from old tires, used glass bottles and dirt. It involved an amazing amount of hard labor and I’m not sure I would want to live in the result. But it left a minimal carbon footprint. On the news there an item talked about two families who used a stream flowing from the mountains to build a hydroelectric generator.
Most local houses don’t have central heat. People just close off room they do not use. We have a delightful pellet stove. The Pellets are from compressed pine wood residue from sawmills and wood products. We were somewhat surprised that people burn coal and wood to stay warm. We are told they have a large supply of both. They replant trees to keep supplies of wood available.
When Judy, my all-time favorite wife, applied for a work visa she had to show she had a job offer and a ticket home in order to get a visa. As her partner I had to prove I had independent means apparently so if she comes to her senses and dumps me here officials can be sure they will not be stuck with me either. I’ll have the money for a one-way ticket out of New Zealand.
Protection of agriculture
Customs has a strict policy of not allowing agricultural products into the country as do many other countries. The products might carry pests and diseases. A TV production showed a man form Korea who had suitcases full of food. He got angry and tried to eat it all when customs officials tried to impound it. The customs official complained to his tour guide that he was aggressive and impolite. He was so un-New Zealandish.
Plans for rebuilding Christchurch have been revealed. Cost is estimated at 1.6 billion based in part on more than 1,000 plans submitted by residents. There will be a memorial for the 181 people who died. Building will be limited to seven stories high and there will be lots of green areas along the Avon River. They plan a light rail to start from the University to the coast Citizens have a month to review the plan and react.
It started with snow in July. Snow in August. Over the last two days (15 and 16 of August )weather from the South Pole has come calling and the University of Canterbury plus most businesses on both Islands has been shut down. Auckland had the first snow since 1932. A visitor from Norway was on the news because he was taking pictures of people taking pictures of the snow. We have come into spring when beautiful warm days alternate with chilly wind and showers. I have half a zillion pictures of amazing flowers and the damaged central business district is showing signs of new life.
When I lived in California I became accustomed to earthquakes, but I’ve never felt as many in a short period of time. I have felt more earthquakes here in three months than I had in California where I lived for ten years.
I find it refreshing that the people I have met in a variety of jobs have not been servile or resentful regardless of their position. People seem proud of their work. Maintenance workers have been wonderfully helpful as well as bus drivers wait staff. There seems to be real opportunity for people to improve their financial status. New Zealand seems to lack rigid class structure and extremes of wealth and poverty. I mentioned the no tipping above so people being helpful were not trying to get money out of me. They wanted to be helpful. On television arrogant people are criticized.
In positive ways the country feels like a small town. When the star rugby player was injured television crews interviewed his dad and mum as well as the player. People all over the islands expressed concern when there was a oil spillage on one beach. Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve heard expressions of concern about the effects of the earthquakes on Christchurch. During the World Cup of Rugby, which New Zealand won, many people I talked to sounded like supporters of the local high school teams in small towns across the United States.