I recently had a special insight into what is so special about rural and provincial New Zealand. Some friends of mine who own a house in the local countryside, had left to chase the big $$ and live in Northern Australia for the last 6 years, returned last week to renovate the house and move back for good.
A growing sense of disillusionment swept over them as they landed in Auckland to grey clouds and a rare cold snap. Upon arriving at the first set of traffic lights into Whangarei, they were met by the small scrum of scruffy window washers who pester all our new arrivals at this junction. They had a foreboding sense that the city had gone downhill since their departure. The occasional beggar added to the overall negative look.
They arrived at their house to find the lawns were up to their knees and the beautiful rock landscaped section was overgrown and untidy. The driveway full of weeds and their old home felt neglected and unloved. Australia suddenly beckoned with its sunshine and snakes. The much anticipated return was slowly turning to dust and fallen dreams. They cancelled delivery of their container of belongings, cancelled their job interviews and asked me to list the home for sale, they were returning to Australia.
And then the magic started. Acquaintances and strangers came forward to help with tools, time and encouragement. Neighbours introduced themselves and offered spare beds and furniture, meals and conversation, friendship and laughter. To the fore burst the natural warm friendliness that is so infused and inborn in every rural and provincial New Zealander. So instinctive that they don’t even know it’s there. It’s more than a willingness to help others; it’s a desire too. They will go out of their way to look for opportunities to make a stranger feel welcome.
‘We have been looking to settle into a community and this place feels like just that. People actually care! “
Now I don’t know if they will settle here permanently or not, but I felt proud! Very proud! That deep down glowing sense you feel deep in your heart when you sense something great just happened. . Proud of the people who are my fellow countryman and women, the people who make this great nation what it is. A friendly, warm, caring place where strangers and friends are genuinely welcomed into the community by real people, who have real Kiwi hearts and Kiwi values. Values so entrenched that most Kiwi’s don’t know just how friendly they are. No wonder it’s such a great place to live and why so many want to live here.