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The tribes of Aotearoa
The ancient land of Aotearoa sits remote at the bottom of the world with it’s unique flora and fauna. A land of great natural beauty, of clear cool rivers and lakes, of mighty snowy mountains and rolling hills, of primeval forests silent but for the cries of birds, and a bat, or Pekapeka, the single native mammal of the land.
The people there are divided, as they are in other countries. Some believe in the power of the individual, that each should be able to thrive based upon merit, these are called the “Alpha” tribe.
Others believe in a society that looks after each other and that much individual achievement is based upon privilege and is often at the expense of the environment or the labours of other citizens, these are the “Gamma” tribe.
In addition to these there is another tribe of the original inhabitants of Aotearoa called the Tangata Whenua – the people of the land. The people of this tribe also belong to one of the other groups.
Though the two tribes sometimes find each other quite annoying they usually think of themselves as one big tribe even though the Alpha tribe has more in common with other Alpha tribes in comparable countries as the Gamma tribe does with those of a similar outlook elsewhere.
Together the two tribes wear the sacred uniform of Aotearoa with the silver fern and an oddly shaped ball and take on the rest of the world. They do rather well although it helps that not that many people in other countries are that interested in the sacred sport of Aotearoa
There had been a time when one of the other countries told Aotearoa they couldn’t pick anyone from the Tangata Whenua tribe and the Alphas who were in charge went along with it.
This caused great division as most of the Gammas thought this was bullshit, but over time the country learned from the experience and now very few Alphas would agree to the Tangata Whenua being left out of anything. Unfortunately the small number that still would are quite a vocal bunch and sometimes people aren’t sure just how many of them there really are.
Even though the Alpha and Gamma people have their differences they generally feel like they have a bit more in common, a bit less division, than most other places.
They generally agree on some basic principles – people deserve a fair go, Aotearoan’s dislike unfairness. They all want the country to do well economically but some have different ideas as to what that looks like, how it is achieved, and how the benefits should be shared.
They all agree in the need for a safety net for people, in having good healthcare and education, and most of them reckon they’re pretty lucky to be in this beautiful part of the world.
For a couple of years this small land was even more isolated than usual. A bad virus spread around the world and the leader of Aotearoa said we’re going to keep our people as safe from this as we possibly can. We’ll stop other people coming here, we’ll stay at home and we won’t even play the game with the funny shaped ball. And most people said – “yeah, that seems like a good idea.”
While many people were dying in other countries most of the people in this land were kept safe, and most were quite grateful for it. And so it came that their leader, who was called Jacinda, was lauded around the world as being one of the best, someone who would fight for the people and loved them greatly, a Wahine Toa in the language of the Tangata Whenua.
The Gamma people thought she was best thing since Pavlova was invented. She made them very proud of their land, and just quietly of themselves for having the good sense to elect her. The Alpha folks grudgingly admitted she had been quite good when things went a bit pear shaped.
Towards the end of the crisis a potential new leader emerged. He said “I am the patron saint of travelers, especially air travelers who are doing it tough - you can call me Saint Christopher”, but that was a bit long for the good people of Aotearoa who liked shortening names.
They said, “yeah nah we don’t really do saints here, bit secular you see, we’ll just call you Chris”. Saint Christopher said he didn’t really like being called Chris if it was all the same, and the good folks of Aotearoa said “that’s nice Chris, good on ya”
Chris said that actually things were not going very well at all and they would be much better if he was in charge. Some of the people got quite excited because the new leader had a penis like proper leaders do, he knew what he was talking about.
Some of the other people said we thought we did pretty well actually, what would you have done differently? The new leader smiled, and said they would have gone both faster, when they needed to, and slower when that was better, and sure a few more people might have died but how do you really measure success?
The new man on the scene said people in Aotearoa could all be as rich as they deserved to be and socialism was bad. Some of the people nodded vigorously at the thought of all that extra wealth and a few that had identified as Gamma for a while wandered back to the Alpha tribe.
He proclaimed that the government was being wasteful by expanding the public service at such a time and again some expressed their approval – “these Wellington pen-pushers should get a real job, work the land, run their own business, get a double cab ute” said the Alphas.
But others said, “hang on we’re talking about essential workers, the people on the frontline doing the testing and vaccinations, they’re pretty averagely paid and doing their best to look after the rest of us.”
However the Alphas were really listening now and were wondering did we really do such a good job? Was it even really necessary for the government to have been so restrictive? Listen to this bloke he was a CEO so he must know about making money.
“Yes, yes I do” he said “I know a lot about making money for myself and for shareholders”. “And when you’re leader we’ll be the shareholders” said one of the Alphas enthusiastically.
The leader smiled “Sure, of course you will be” but the Gamma group yelled out “he’s got his fingers crossed – we’re not the shareholders! He doesn’t care about you”
The new leader thought he’d better change the subject and said, “you see that group over there, they want your stuff and the current government is going to give it to them”. The people were a bit confused and said “do you mean the ‘bottom feeders’ you told us about earlier?” but he laughed and said “no, the Tangata Whenua, they want your stuff that you worked hard for – they even want your water”
Many of the people of Aotearoa, including almost all the Gammas, groaned – “c’mon, this again?”
But too late, the new leader had opened a can of worms he didn’t know how to deal with. The revolting racist invertebrates squirmed with delight at the sunlight shone upon the views they normally kept in the dark.
Chris soon wondered if this was how he wanted to win the election - through such division? Then he thought that actually he mainly just wanted to win.
Chris had a lieutenant called David who had no qualms - he said “worms are people too and we need to listen to their free speech even if we disagree with it - these worms could all be mine.”
A lot of people, most of the Gamma, but also quite a few of the Alpha, said “these worms are pretty yuck do we really want to follow what they want?”
“You know even after all we did to them and all we took from them I don’t think the Tangata Whenua want to take what is ours from us” someone said, “I just think they want clean drinking water, water to swim in, and a seat at the table like the rest of us.”
Quite a few people nodded, one of the people who wasn’t Tangata Whenua but was very sympathetic to them said “they just want to do those mean as Manus”, more people nodded and another said “I’d trust the bros to run the water more than those guys in suits”, then one said “goodness, did you just refer to the Tangata Whenua as ‘Bros’?”
And so this chapter closes as we draw back from the peaceful little Aotearoan village.
Tune in next year, same Pekapeka time same Pekapeka channel, for an election as the people of Aotearoa, the Alphas, the Gammas, and the Tangata Whenua, choose between Jacinda, the Wahine Toa, and Chris the flightless former CEO who longs to soar again.
Which will you choose?