We are a small Island Nation in the South Pacific and in the early days of settlement our pioneer ancestors had to rely on their wits and ingenuity to survive in what was a hostile and untamed environment. And because of their geographical isolation, we became a nation of inventors and excelled in thinking outside the square…if there was a problem, our forebears had to rely on their own ingenuity to solve it.
One of the other facets of a Kiwi’s sense of identity is that for so long we perceived ourselves as actually having no or very little identity.
Our forebears came here on sailing ships like this … The Lady Jocelyn bringing with them all they thought they would need from the “Old Country”…and when they got here realised that what they’d brought was woefully inadequate. Their roots and ties very much to England or whatever country they originally called home …and because of this perceived lack of National Identity we have actually forged a very strong one…and one that has evolved over time to meld all the strands of people who have settled here with the indigenous people who were the earliest settlers to make it to our far-flung shores.
A Maori Waka similar to the ones that brought those early settlers to Aotearoa.
Another facet to our strong National sense of place is that because of our geographic isolation, for centuries NZ had no land mammals and consequently we have a whole host of unique birds found nowhere else in the world. The flightless Kiwi is one… and this is the bird New Zealanders identify with … it is unique … and the land that gave the world this unique bird, has also given its human inhabitants our own unique sense of identity…an amalgam of so many different people forged into one nationality.
And nowhere is this amalgam of cultures more evident than on the sporting field. There is not a rugby nation on earth that doesn’t quail when faced with the All Blacks doing the Haka… Men of all ethnicity perform this war dance with a zeal and put dread in the opposing team’s hearts.
Do my stories have a unique sense of place? Here is an excerpt from Return to Totara Park: