Dinner last night with cousin Anne from New Zealand. Anne had come across the ditch in her official role as General Manager of Tourism Central Otago (TCO) as well as Deputy CEO of Central Otago District Council. We met at her hotel, and then wandered down to the Rocks for dinner overlooking the water.
Anne has been actively involved in the creation of the Roxburgh Gorge and Clutha Gold Trails, and on the the eve of their official openings she had come to promote them at The Bike & Lifestyle Show Australia .
I have known the Pullar kids for much of their lives. Their mum was my first cousin, and I first met them when they were children.
This is a shot of three generations taken on the farm at Pukerau in Southland. I was taking the shot, so am not there. But Brother David is in the back between Roger and Elaine. Second right at the back is Aunt May, the Belshaw linkage. Anne is in the front, holding a doll up for display.
The kin links go quite deep, There are so few members of my immediate Belshaw family, just nineteen of us spread across three generations and three countries, that we all feel a little isolated. Not surprisingly therefore, Anne and I spent time just catching up on our shared family, talking across countries and time.
With exceptions (I draw the line at supporting the All Blacks!), I am quite happy to claim my New Zealand ancestry and call myself a Kiwi. Perhaps it won't surprise you then to know just how deeply I resent the attempts of Governments to divide us. In Australia, it began during the Whitlam years and continued most recently under the Howard administration.
Australia and New Zealand may be, in economic terms, a common market like the EU. but the barriers to the free movement of people between our countries have increased steadily, the differentials in treatment have grown as the rules become more complex. I so resent that. To my mind, the role of Government should be to facilitate, not impede, integration.
Does this mean special treatment for New Zealanders in Australia, Australians in New Zealand? Of course it does, and I see nothing wrong with that. Remember what the word "special" means in this case. It means that in Australia, New Zealanders should be treated as our own and, conversely, in New Zealand. We are cousins as Anne and I are cousins, part of the same close knit family. That's all.