At this time many people like to look back and reflect on the year that they have had. Relax, I am not going to subject you to my year in review, accept to say it has been eventful. As we approach New Year’s Eve I am always more focused on what I want to achieve in the year to come than mulling over the year behind. Holidays are a great time for ruminating and I am a great one for resolutions.
Through good luck not good management I get to holiday in Russell in the Bay of Islands. Like thousands of other JAFAS we descend on the tiny town, ready to rape and pillage it for a month then leave it lying breathless, hoping it has enough tourist dollars on the bedside table to last through winter. Russell, or Kororareka, with its salacious past is no stranger to this kind of behaviour. As our first capital it is also town that is no stranger to utopian dreams and aspirations for the future of our country.
My north dwelling friends get tired of my politics so I try to keep a lid on my musings. They claim to have no interest in politics. Like many people busy with the day to day grind of staying afloat in a holiday town in the regions that is understandable. This is especially applicable to the contemporary use of the term ‘politics’ which they tend to understand as the stuff that occurs in parliament with politicians. When I use words like socialism, communism or even simply ‘the left’ I am pretty sure a lot of my friends think that what that means is I want to spoil everyone’s fun. I want to take away holidays and make everyone wear grey smocks. Actually, I know this to be true. They have admitted as much when drunk.
The truth is my friends in the North are all actively political whether they are aware of it or not, at least by my definition of politics. My definition of politics is the things we do every day that affect how we live within our society. It is the everyday actions that we participate, or do not participate in, that build the kind of community in which we want to live. In small town New Zealand it is hard to find anyone who is not actively involved in some kind of community activity.
In Russell I stay I with one of my oldest and dearest friends and her husband who emigrated from Ireland. Viv is from Kawakawa, and after time traveling, a stint in Auckland she is back in the Bay, hopefully, for good. They both have full time jobs. He in hospitality and her in real-estate. They both volunteer at the Fire Brigade. Viv also volunteers with the annual Birdman weekend which donates all money raised to charity. Viv’s Mum, over in Kawakawa does Fridays at the local St John charity shop. Her brother volunteered for the ambulance for years. It’s a situation replicated thousands and thousands of time over by all the people who willingly dedicate some of their time to the benefit of the people and place in which they live. This is politics and we are our own politicians.
As to the idea that the left want to spoil holidays it isn’t true at all. As I walk around this idyllic village I am struck as always by how much I love being in the Far North. I find myself wishing there was a way I could relocate and find enough work to make the day dream viable. It doesn’t have to be Russell and I’m sure I am not the only person waking the streets of a holiday town right now wishing I could enjoy small town life all year around. I don’t want to stop holidays. I do not want to stop this kind of festivity, I want to work toward a society where everyone can enjoy a summer holiday.
I don’t want to scale down this idea of a seaside utopia, I want to find a way, and build a future that makes it a viable option for the many not the elite few. A future where the people that do choose to live in the regions can do so in the knowledge of a secure future with secure work. With wages that don’t make returning home a sacrifice. A future where leaving is an option as opposed to a requirement forced by the lack of work and higher wages.
That is my vision and my own resolution for 2015 is to learn how to better articulate it. Maybe it is a resolution that the left on the whole need to put some time into visualising and articulating. Perhaps it is something we can all ponder as we paddle on the beach, or while we are camping in the bush, or merely enjoying time with friends and whanau.
It seems like everyone who can be on holiday is on holiday. The politicians, the political journalists and even the bloggers are taking a break. The thing is politics is not holiday. Politics never is. My own politics are with me wherever I go, including the summer break. Perhaps it is a time when without the distraction and fascination people have for developed parliamentary politics, we can see how detrimental giving up that power can be to our liberty.
Here’s to 2015. A time for us to take back our power and make a resolution to share the joint vision we have for a New Zealand where everyone gets time to enjoy the summer.
Happy Holidays everyone and Viva La Resolution.