For a while I’ve been trying to figure out what to write about. Having promised to many people that I would keep in touch, and having not followed through with that promise many times in the past, I decided that I would write a blog that at least gives people the opportunity to know what I’m up to, even if I don’t have the time to keep in touch with everyone individually. But that’s as far as I have managed to get. I leave New Zealand on Tuesday, so I guess I should start writing something.
Over the last year I developed friendships with people from all over the world. I lived with Americans, a German, and a girl from Japan. Alongside them were people from across Europe, Asia, North America and the Pacific. Travelling is going to be comfortable for me because I have that vast support network in beautiful areas of the world. Cities to visit, places to stay, and people to help me enjoy it. And I also have experience with people who are learning a new place, and a new culture. I am lucky in that regard.
I am by no means the first person to go through what I am currently going through. Thousands of kiwis every year head to the UK long term. The advent of cheap travel has seen those numbers increase, but they’ve always been there. Looking back to NZ’s history we have been travellers since before our country even existed. The early Māori travelled across the oceans in deliberate search of new lands. And they found them in Aotearoa, settling here and making these lands their own. According to Te Ara, they didn’t identify as one people “until the arrival of Europeans when, to mark their distinction the name Māori, meaning ‘ordinary’, came into use.” The original kiwis, born travellers, called themselves ordinary. And it has continued to be ordinary for kiwis to travel ever since. The children of English migrants sometimes travelled ‘home’ to see the family, as would their own children. Over time the family ties diminished, but the national ties didn’t. Now we travel back ‘home’ for the work and travel opportunities that are available to us as Kiwis. Those original colonial migrants came to New Zealand for greater opportunities. They came for gold, land, and new communities. Pakeha kiwis, their descendants, are now doing exactly the same thing, in reverse (as well as other kiwis who don’t identify as pakeha). In our small corner of the world, opportunities are available but there are so many more to be found in Europe’s capitals. London being the capital of ‘the homeland’, the majority of kiwis head there.
So, I think I want to tell the story of New Zealand’s colonial immigrants, learning about what they did and how their lives developed while searching for opportunities. At the same time, I can compare my experiences, in our technologically advanced world, with their experiences of being almost completely isolated at the bottom of the world. As I travel around Europe to visit friends, I can expand my research into those countries and their migration patterns in relation to New Zealand.
Who knows if I’ll stick to that? It’s a place to start and it’s something to keep me moving along with my recent trend of trying to understand what it means to be a Kiwi. Like our Māori ancestors, the ordinary kiwis, I will be an ordinary kiwi travelling through Europe.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on the other side of the world!