Think Trump-style wedge politics or a Kiwi-style Brexit movement is on the cards? Yeah, nah, not going to happen here bro. And here’s why.
Before we moved back to New Zealand earlier this year my husband Paul and I and our growing family had been living in Northern Ireland for 18 months.
While we were there Paul had only one rule, and that was I was never, ever to answer the door during any type of government or council elections. He was terrified that some ignorant sod from some ultra-conservative political party (which is *all of them in Northern Ireland, to be honest) would set me off on yet another rant about why politicians should do crazy things like leave my uterus alone, allow people who love each other to marry or not let packs of foaming dogs rip apart a live fox.
But one afternoon Paul was busy upstairs tending to a patch of baby spew on the rug and a man clutching a plastic shopping bag rang the doorbell and, forgetting the House Rule, I answered the door.
His name was Jack Irwin, he was standing for the Conservatives, and he wanted my vote. Well, I don’t know if old Jack was just having a bad day or what, but our little doorstep exchange ended with him screaming at me from the top of my driveway.
“And go back to where you came from” were his parting words.
And so I did.
Now that wasn’t the moment we decided to pack up our beautiful, centrally-heated home filled with IKEA furniture (that doesn’t travel well, FYI) and fly back to New Zealand with twin seven-month-old babies and a toddler, two. That decision had been months in the making, a combination of homesickness and terrible weather and a political and social and education structure that just never felt right.
But those words were a kick in the guts notheless, a rare glimpse for me, an Australian born into a world of white privilege, of the cruelness and bigotry that so many can wield.
It made me cry tears of relief when our plan landed back in New Zealand, back in a country where my sons’ play group has everything labelled in English and Maori, where their little play date friend is a boy born in New Zealand to Chinese parents, where it doesn’t matter where you went to school, or what your religion is, where you can marry who you love and make your own choices about your reproductive health.
There’s been the odd opinion piece make it into print down here about how a Trump/Brexit-style movement is going to sweep across this beautiful country and, depending on the writer’s leanings, we get a ‘this is a good thing/bad thing’ lesson.
While I sort of admire their stick-beating approach, I can tell the rest of you right now that it ‘aint going to happen, not now, not ever. Because I have come home to Aotearoa, a country I want my children to grow up in.
And when a country is good enough for my children, where my sons can marry who ever they fall in love with, well, that love is always going to trump hate.
* With the exception of the wonderful Councillor Owen Gaith of the Social Democratic Alliance party, who keeps fighting the good fight.