New Zealand - Small is Beautiful
As I spend time in New Zealand, I quite like what I see. A place where:
- the Maoris (indigenous, who migrated from Polynesia 12 centuries ago) are acknowledged, respected and integrated in society;
- any person, independently of age or nationality, can have his/her opinion heard before a bill is introduced to be discussed in Parliament;
- economic freedom and transparency rates are amongst the highest in the world, while bureaucracy and taxes are relatively low;
- skilled foreigners (from builders to engineers) are super welcome;
- environmental conscience and practice is very advanced.
Noticing New Zealand combines some of the most important things a society could value - ethics, respect to nature and social integration - I started to wonder why it developed that way, differently from so many other places which struggled with corruption, wealth concentration, environmental disasters and violence.
I'm certainly not knowledgeable enough to have an answer for that, but it seems to me that the isolated environment, the small population, and especially the combination of the Maori deep respect to nature with the European ethics and hard work has a lot to do with that. More important than the foundations facts quoted above is the way they were integrated, with both Maori and Europeans fighting to maintain what they considered fundamental virtues, but also negotiating and giving in when it came to everything else - notably in the last 4 decades.
The inside of a Maori meeting centre
Beautiful Waiheke Island, a 35 min ferry ride from Auckland
The Parliament and the National Library
And here comes a story to illustrate the Maori relation with nature.
One day Rata
went into the forest
to cut down a totara tree
to build a canoe.
When he had finished
he went home to sleep.
During the night
the birds and insects
and fairy people of the forest
helped put Totara upright.
Again Rata cur him down
and again he stood up.
So Rata hid nearby and watched
then asked the children of Tane
"Why are you doing this to me?"
"Because you disobeyed
the laws of the forest.
First you must have a good reason
then you must ask permission
to cut down a child of Tane."
Rata was ashamed
and begged their forgiveness.
And so the children of Tane
helped Rata build his canoe.