Back into the Bush.

It took me a while but I finally have moved back into my home in the Waitakeres and established an Internet connection. The whole experience has been out-of-body: transported from an SE Asian unnaturally manicured urban landscape into the sub-tropical wilderness overlooking a black sand beach. In the time I have been away the bush has reclaimed its place in the surrounds of the house so there is much work to be done in re-establishing a clear space before winter shadows set in. The silence and darkness at night, save the calls of the moorporks and a porch light, is simply incredible after 3 years of traffic noise and human chatter. I can now jog on a beach rather than on cement or a treadmill (which means that I will actually be motivated to do so). I can (semi-) safely ride a bike and swim in unpollluted waters. Rather than entirely store-bought produce I am now once again gathering chicken and duck eggs and using the garden for veggies (my tenant kindly left the garden in good shape). A neighbor moved his cow and her calf into my upper paddock, reminding me of the quality fertiliser production that would ensue from the natural lawn-mowing and weed control efforts of the friendly bovines. The simple acts of walking up and down stairs, chopping wood, shoveling, sawing, pushing barrows etc. is a marked contrast to the sedentary elevator and escalator-driven existance that cushions the Little Red Dot from the natural world. In fact, that was one thing that was startling about the SG experience–people no longer seem to know how to cope with nature, be it small animals or big rainstorms. Everything is delegated to the state for management and control, which is pretty much the antithesis of what is going on out in the West Auckland hills.

People are different too. From the crassly materialistic, commodity fetichist, money and vanity-obsessed culture in which I have lived for the past few years I am now in a place where people wear track clothes and gumboots in malls. The lack of pretense is refreshing, but perhaps that take on things has less to do with “proper” notions of civility and more to do with my working class orientation.

Be that as it may, such dress in public spaces would invite open derision and possible police intervention in SG, given that people dress to the nines before embarking on the national sport of shopping and shoddy clothing is associated with foreign workers who are considered to be inferior and criminally-minded by many of the local majority (I should note that this can happen in certain elite shopping districts in the US as well). The Asian fixation on cosmetic beauty and displays of wealth has been replaced in West Auckland by something more earthy, even frumpy or bogan (although this may simply be a Westie thing–I presume that if I lived in Mission Bay or Remuera there would be a bit of “sniffy” attitude there as well). Out in the supercity West, there seems to be much less of a concern about status and “keeping up with the Jones,” although I am reminded that equality and politeness goes out the door as soon as some people get into vehicles (this is especially true for middle aged Pakeha males driving panel vans). Children actually play, and with their parents to boot (with no maids in sight to do the housework and child-raising).

Then there is the racial mingling, which in West Auckland involves all persuasions consentually and freely associating but which in the Little Red Dot is either middle aged white males consorting with young Asian females or third generation Sino-Indian mixes (much to the disapproval of parents on both sides). Hence, homicidal drivers notwithstanding,  it has been delight to return to a tolerant and diverse place even if I am re-discovering all the aches that come with living in a semi-rural environment. But that is exactly why I prefer to live here rather than there–this existance is grounded and real. 

I have been fortunate in having word of my return leak to the media, which has resulted in a few interviews on topics of contemporary import (of which I will post more later). One of the interviews is here:

So long as that contributes to public debate and gainful employment in some capacity down the road, the more the better. I also may have some real business leads in the making, so fingers crossed that they materialise.

Anyway, this is just a quick brief on my return to Aotearoa. Many people may seek to leave NZ for greater economic opportunity, but as far as I am concerned this is the best place to call home. Once my partner joins me, it will be, once again.

10 thoughts on “Back into the Bush.

  1. Thanks Chris.

    Must be the Waitakere Man in you to empathise with the moment.
    It is like living in an alternative universe, especially since I face the prospect of some long distance commuting between the natural and unnatural worlds mentioned in the post over the next six months or so.

  2. Ah! Such worlds still exist- the woody end of experience- you would do Henry Thoreau proud! Walden Pond at the bottom of the world! Ha!

  3. Quentin:

    You flatter me too much. Anyone who reads can string a pretty (or at least coherent) sentence together, and love of proximity to nature is not limited to Greenie/Vegan/Eco-Warriors. Were it that university students understood the former and the self-proclaimed “Defenders of the Earth” understand the latter.

  4. Welcome home Pablo,
    The Karekare is a pretty special place…. I envy you getting back there.
    Enjoy the 1st summer back! :-D


  5. Thanks Dave.

    I agree that this is a special place. It is going to take me a while to get back into lifesaving shape but if not this summer then hopefully next.

  6. What I was trying to say was that it takes a lot of effort to change a lifestyle, and for you to have chosen the more simplified version ought to be congratulated.
    I was not referring to the hippie mode or the ‘Eco-warrior mode for that matter. I am 50 by the way- yes am at Uni, and will be for 2011 to do my masters and no, I am not a hippie or Eco-Warrior type Uni student.

  7. Sorry Quentin:

    I was certainly not meaning to disparage you. I certainly did not think of you as either a student or a hippie, although I must say good on you for returning to do the MA. I was just making a wry dig at undergrad students and self-righteous greenies in general.

  8. No worries. You will be interested to know my MA thesis will based on your article on NZ and the Melian Dialogue ( I read the Dialogue after and saw an opportunity to advance your comments. I will keep you in touch. It will basically attempt a similar approach to my year long essay project (2010) “Is 21st Century Politics similar to Dante’s 14th Century Politics?”

    This project is being tentatively titled “American Decline and the Melian Dialogue: New Zealand and the USA in the 2010s.” In each case the answer is yes, and yes American influence may be in decline.

  9. Quentin:

    That should make for an interesting idea although beware that in some NZ universities your source is considered highly dubious. You might also profit from reading the article in the June 2010 issue of Political Science Quarterly that addresses the subject of NZ’s post Cold War foreign policy.

    You seem to have avoided the perennial student syndrome of thinking that the last book you have read is the best book you have read, and that more recent publications inevitably are better than “old” work. Although I would not go so far as to say that there are immutable truths in politics, there are certainly strong trends and patterns that have been discernable throughout time. That is where the wisdom of the ancients comes into play, and you seem to understand that. Good on ya.

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