Some thoughts from a hotel room in Berlin:
New Zealand is like a pair of warm fluffy slippers to me. It is the place of so many of my family’s memories – I haven’t lived there since I was born but going back always feels like home.
Aotearoa’s status as Australia’s naive cousin isn’t justified. It has constantly been ahead of the curve socially – the first country in the world to give women the vote, the first to elect a transgender member of parliament, the first to appoint a female as head of an Anglican diocese, the first to introduce an 8 hour work day. They achieved marriage equality four years before Australia, have the world’s youngest female head of government, and have had First Nations people represented in parliament since 1867. New Zealand is not perfect, and neither is its society completely free of racism, but in 2019 Australia can’t even agree that our First Nations people deserve constitutional recognition, let alone create a society that protects difference rather than persecutes it.
I am embarrassed to be travelling on an Australian passport right now. I am so disgusted that our country’s shitty social policies and increasingly protectionist rhetoric has infiltrated New Zealand through this absolute cretin from Grafton; a deranged and racist asshole who chose Aotearoa purely because of its perceived status as a safe and progressive country. Today I hate being Australian and, silly as it is, I wish I was travelling on my New Zealand passport instead.
I am currently in a city full of reminders of how dangerous racism and divisive political policies can be. We will be visiting the Berlin Wall Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The stories behind each are horrendous. I know I will be reflecting on those terrible moments in history and the unfathomable loss of life, but I also know I will be thinking about how little us humans seem to have learned, and how walls both physical and metaphorical continue to be built between us. The parallel between the demonisation of Jews prior to World War II and Muslims today is genuinely frightening.
This level of hatred has no place anywhere, but until our politicians stop using race as a political motivator, it will always fester. We all need to demand more of our leaders, but we also need to demand more of ourselves and each other, and stop watching with ambivalence as right wing nationalism turns into government policy.
I hope this is a moment of reckoning for the world; a point at which good people realise how far we’ve veered off course. I hope we swap complacency for concern and care. I hope that instead of fearing that ‘the other’ is against us, we embrace the other as part of us. As Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, they are us.
And if you really do believe all the shit about immigrants and boat people and refugees that politicians like Peter Dutton and Pauline Hanson espouse, while still enjoying all the food, music, sport, technology and culture those migrants brought with them, then please PLEASE just fuck off. Your ignorance is inflaming my haemorrhoids and hurting my heart.
Kia kaha Aotearoa xx