29th February – Popping the Question


I can’t let a month go by without a blog post and today, a date that only comes around once every four years, seems a good day to take the leap.  After all, I can’t miss out again…  Due to overbearing cloudy skies, I didn’t get to experience the early morning, once in ten years alignment of the five planets, so this auspicious event, Leap Day, 2016, will have to do.

So what is the question I want to pop on this day when women are allowed to pop the question?  Pop is a word that implies fizz, champagne, celebration, so it needs to be a positive question.  I will therefore avoid  questions about Donald Trump and what Americans are thinking, or about my failure to buy a house in Auckland to capitalise on sizeable resale profits, or about inconsiderate neighbours whose drunken noise still continues at 1pm on Monday mornings and whose dog poops regularly on our lawn.

Instead I will ask about the wonderful luck of being born in New Zealand, this beautiful island nation, surrounded by oceans, steeped in modern-day peace and prosperity, where the birds sing at dawn, where even the poor are rich by world standards, and where crowd funding allows ordinary citizens to band together to buy a beach.  Yes, we bought a beach!  I haven’t felt so excited about anything since eight years ago when I danced around our Seattle lounge with my grandson because Obama became President.

In the late 1980s, I had the wonderful privilege of tramping the coastal walk in the Abel Tasman National Park and wading across the Awaroa inlet at low tide with four other teachers and thirty fourteen year olds on an end of year Wider Living Week excursion. We were exhausted after carrying our tents and food on our backs for four days but in awe of the beauty that surrounded us we straggled across that magnificent bay.  So when two ordinary unsophisticated Christchurch blokes saw that the up-till-then privately owned stretch of sand was up for sale, they put in place a plan to ensure continued access to foreshore and seabed, a right that New Zealanders prize alongside being clean and green and anti-nuclear.  In just three weeks, their project captured the imagination of this tiny South Pacific nation and, with a little help from the Joyce Fisher Foundation and the Conservation Minister, Maggie Barry, we won the auction.

Even if I never get to wade across that remote stretch of paradise again, it was wonderfully exciting being one of the 39,249 kiwis who took the leap, gave their mites and purchased this nearly three million dollar patch in paradise.  And to crown it all, it was out from underneath the noses of powerful international corporates.  Power to the poeple!  Ka pai, Ngati Aotearoa!!!




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