GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – I used to have a car like that.


A lot of jokes don’t make sense until you get to the end.
Take the one about the rich Texan who is in New Zealand for a holiday. One day he stops his car at the top of a Waikato hill to take a photo when he meets an old farmer leaning on a gate, and he says,

“Is this your land?”

“Yeah” says the farmer “ it is. It goes all the way from top of this hill there down to the river. That’s all mine.”

The Texan laughs and he says,
“If I get up in the morning I can drive all day before I get to the other end of my land.”

And the farmer says,

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“Yeah, I used to have a car like that.”

Some years ago I had the privilege of interviewing the late John Clarke for a documentary about the New Zealand sense of humour . (That’s him in today’s photo dressed as his character Fred Dagg)

You can find my doco on New Zealand Public Television (NZPTV)
Here’s the link :

Anyway, John was a comic genius and he told me he thought one of the unique things about the Kiwi sense of humour is that a lot of our jokes didn’t have punch lines. That it was the telling of the yarn – the journey- that we enjoyed, rather than the punchline

A lot of Billy Connolly’s humour is like that . He takes you on a story telling journey peppered with lots magic moments.

I can’t tell you if life has a punchline because I haven’t got to the end of it yet.

What I can tell you is …it’s the journey that matters.

There’s a lot of things that happen to us on our life’s journey we are powerless to prevent, but there are many things we CAN control – such as whether we are greedy or we choose to share.

Greedy people are focused on themselves. They collect stuff.

Folks who share find their meaning for life in what they can do for others. They collect friends who reward them with magic moments of joy.

Currently the way we run our country favours the greedy

The wealthiest 10% of us now hold half the wealth of our country

The bottom 40 per cent of households now account for just 3 per cent of total wealth.

I’m for sharing the nation’s wealth more equitably because I want more New Zealanders to have a happier journey through life.

To give you just one example ..

I want free education up to and including university and polytech.

I think that would make the life journey better for the majority of our children.


Because I grew up in a New Zealand that gave me that chance . I left University with no debt and that, in itself ,gave me a huge boost to my life’s journey .

I want today’s young people to get what I was given.

In general I think dumping the politics of selfishness would make us a happier nation.

How do I know?

I used to have a country like that.

(PS. I guess that’s my punchline)


Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.


  1. “I left University with no debt and that, in itself ,gave me a huge boost to my life’s journey .”

    So did I. And it concerns me that subsequent generations have not had that privilege. You are quite right: they should.

  2. The grim irony is that most of the neo libs who introduced student fees had a free tertiary education themselves

    The hypocrisy of the likes of Key and Joyce and their contemporaries should not be lost on us

    Yeah, bring back free tertiary education. We can afford it. I call bullshit when the right say we can’t afford it

  3. On ya mate, yep can’t call a spade a spade anymore for obvious reasons, but I can call the young fella in Oz an egg because of who he egged. More humour please, as the English language is such a multi-layered & subtly constructed wonder which is in danger of losing its richness & beauty.

    In troubling times laughing at ourselves & others is a powerful spell breaking attribute of our language which is now under siege by those who would censor it’s full & varied expression.

    Humour is a tool in our tension resolution toolbox & should be allowed free reign.

  4. I agree with the idea of free education and also free health care and so forth… but the NZ way of life has changed under neoliberalism.

    In the rush to be an economic copy cat, our politicians and government advisors seem to be desperate to make NZ like … Singapore, Japan, Israel, Australia, China… who knows what the next ‘copy cat’ economy our politicians should cherry pick. During this time they shit on the locals who live here and have paid again and again for the governments 30 year neoliberal folly.

    if you saved and are rich you are bad. If you are poor you are bad. If you are middle class you are bad. Basically Kiwis are now considered negatively by both the left and the right. “Fucking useless’ of the Pakeha from the Natz in terms of political donations for example.

    Seems to be the righties think Kiwis are ‘drugged out and lazy’ while the woke seem to think we are ‘racist, xenophobic, greedies’…

    They all seem to be pursing a policy of social re engineering by importing in others to replace/displace the above drugged out lazy, fucking useless, racist, xenophobic, greedy, Kiwis.

    Weird we have such a negative view from commentators about our culture, that when you go overseas the world does not share. In fact we are constantly praised overseas for being such great, kind, honest, hard working people!

    To create the neoliberal experiment we have in NZ, the instigators have changed how people both left and right think about and describe NZ culture and people born here, which is increasingly negative in NZ. At the same time the are keen to preserve the ‘wholesome’ Kiwi image for overseas so they can get more people in here to live in their fucked up social experiment.

    I’m not sure how many other politicians can call their own people names continually and get away with it, but in NZ, people seem to be a a kind of post neoliberal shock of just accepting being abused daily or take on a woke Stockholm syndrome and self proclaim ‘how terrible white/middle class/pakeha is. Then we have the alternative right wing view with Melissa Lee types aimed at Maori and Pacific Islanders with “SH20 Waterview Connection could divert criminals from South Auckland away from the electorate”.

    The ‘other’ and ‘foreign’ is always better in our government policy eyes because they have such a brain washed negative view of NZ culture and people and an idealised view of others.

    Comes home to roast when our security forces were so keen on spying on Kiwis they forgot to monitor a visitor big on hate crime on social media and buying up semi automatic weapons. Would not surprise me, if he was on a benefit too paid for by NZ while he trained for his hate crime here.

    Those that grew up in NZ and paid again and again through the ‘user pays’ years, are being denigrated daily, while those who are new to the country can come and just take and get richer here or operate their crimes (Tarrent) unhindered, while not paying any or little taxes and our politicians are ok with that.

    Large companies pay less taxes like big Pharma, or asset strip and destroy jobs like Mondelez International when they took over Cadbury, or Helen Clark can be helping an arguably environmentally and socially destructive Palm oil rich company when she eats her morning Vocals… All is ok by our politicians who are worrying about cunts or the next $100k donation.

    No wonder Jacinda is popular, look at what the rest of them are up to! Sadly as we know from David Lange, you can be smart popular and ethical as a leader, but the Rogernomics who run the policy behind the scenes can use that to create radical policy that becomes an unfortunate social experiment. Happening right now with more TPPA and immigration policy and asset transfers out of NZ ownership!

    It is hard to see how NZ can afford free education if we for example encourage companies to own assets here like polluting water bottling companies, for virtually nothing and through various economic agreements don’t have to pay much tax here, while taxing the Kiwis for water and the pollution that creates.

    We have a Cockoo system… Work harder “greedy” Kiwis seems to be the mantra but perhaps it is not as it seems where the money is ending up?

    No wonder people are getting poorer and poorer here when the world’s rich and middle class can come and retire or get full benefits like welfare in NZ within short periods of time after buying or gaining residency through marriage or ‘family’ schemes.

    Some NZ students paid 10% compounding daily interest fees on student loans in the 1990’s so is it fair or equitable when people new to NZ qualify for free tertiary and health care here as part of government ‘generosity’, or a pension, while none of that ‘generosity’ was ever shown to my generation who are stuck with the loans as well as the decreasing wages with less secure jobs that neoliberalism has bought?

    • It is much more than an “unfortunate social experiment.”




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