I am very happy to welcome my Guest Blogger, Sarah Hardie, talking about her love for her native New Zealand and her pride in her heritage. But is she a New Zealander!
New Zealand is a strange and wonderful place where the hills are alive with nature and sheep, where the beaches are rocky, beautiful and plentiful, and where there is technically no such thing as a New Zealander.
My Dad always says to me, “Do you realize that New Zealand is the only country in the world where we can’t call ourselves New Zealanders?”
And it’s true. When we fill out forms, we have to tick the box that says “New Zealand European/Pakeha”. Firstly, I have never been to Europe, and nor has my family. My ancestors were born in Scotland and England, and only ever went to Europe to fight in the wars.
Secondly, “Pakeha” is a Maori word, which means “white ghost”, a name given to our ancestors when they arrived on the shores of New Zealand in ships flying white sails 200 years ago. Some say it means, “White pig”, or at least that’s what the Maori kids at school used to tell us. Is it right for us to be officially labelled by a Maori word? By a word that is not our own?
Of all things, the New Zealand All Blacks winning the Rugby World Cup last year has bought this anomaly to the forefront of my mind.
The eyes of the world were on our tiny country for those four weeks of utter mayhem and national pride, with 20 countries competing for the Webb Ellis Cup.
On my dad’s side of the family, I am a third-generation “New Zealander” and on my mum’s side, I am fourth generation. My parents, all of my grandparents, and a couple of my great-grandparents were born in New Zealand, yet neither they nor I are able to call ourselves simply “New Zealanders”.
Although I have a certain amount of pride in my Scottish and English heritage, I am more proud of the fact that the people who shaped my country were the ones who were brave enough to leave their homeland forever to spend months on a boat, often losing loved ones to sickness on the way to a land they had never seen before – a land that was all trees and rocky shores, barren of life except for the small, scattered Maori villages.
Let me be a bit arrogant for a second. I think the reason why people have coined phrases such as “Kiwi ingenuity”, “I’m not a hero, I just did what any kiwi would do”, and “She’ll be right mate”, and why people like former All Black Colin Meads who played a game of rugby with a broken arm are our national heroes is because we were the ones who decided to take a risk, a huge risk, a risk that is not even available to take these days. We were the ones who decided not to stay at home where it was familiar and safe. We decided to get on that boat and start a new country. That’s pretty brave in my opinion.
There is nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage and supporting other teams for a bit of fun, but where do we draw the line at being defined by our heritage?
I love the sound of the bagpipes, and jumping around yelling at Scotland to “run the damn ball!” and cheering when they score, but when I stood up and sang Flower of Scotland (the national anthem), the hairs on the back of my neck stayed flat and my heart beat was normal.
Yet when I stood up with my sister in my living room on September 9 when the All Blacks kicked off the RWC with a match against Tonga, put hand on heart, and sang God Defend New Zealand, tears of pride came to our eyes.
When the All Blacks performed the Haka, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. When they kicked off, my heartbeat was faster than normal for the next 80 minutes.
Every Anzac Day, when I attend the dawn service in Wellington with my family, I think of the New Zealanders who fought and died for our freedom regardless of the colour of their skin nearly 100 years ago. At least on that one day, we all get to at least feel like New Zealanders, no matter where our ancestors came from.
How many generations of people born and raised in New Zealand will it take to shake off the words “Pakeha” and “European” and when will we get to tick the box that says “New Zealander”?
You May Say I’m a Dreamer Blog: http://youmaysayimadreamer-sh.blogspot.co.nz/
Sarah lives in Wellington, New Zealand and works in the media industry. She is a writer working on her first novel which is based in her city, and a non-fiction project on a rural New Zealand town’s dedication to keeping the Anzac tradition alive. She is also a very proud New Zealander who loves her sweet as life and enjoys flinging off her jandals on the beach to go for a swim in the sea wearing her togs in the arvo followed by a good steak on the barbie at the bach. Choice bro.