Poneke spent Christmas in Brisbane and reflects on how much furthur Australia has come compared to New Zealand in terms of material prosperity; I had a similar experience in Bangkok earlier this year – a place I first visited in my early twenties and still thought of as a low-cost third world backwater had transformed into a wealthy international city. It had the ‘buzz’ Poneke encountered in Brisbane. I felt it again this year on business trips to Melbourne, Sydney and Cairns – the sense that the world is changing and that New Zealand really is getting left behind.
On the other hand, this morning I went running along a public track through the farmland behind Karori. From the top of the ridgeline I could see all of the western suburbs; white weatherboard 1920’s homes scattered about the green hills, as well as the empty farmland out to Makara and the southern coastline and across the Cook Strait the seaward Kaikoura’s, the tallest of which were snowcapped and ragged with clouds.
My weekend run is ninety minutes long and although I saw rabbits, breakfasting hawks, paradise ducks and the odd wild goat I didn’t see a single person the entire time – even though the track is a short walk from one of the largest suburbs in the country.
If we were richer all that land would be sold up, paved over, developed and filled with townhouses and malls. Maybe being left behind isn’t such a bad thing.