Dear Editor

It was good to catch up with my daughter and her children the other day. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and the kids were excitedly playing in the garden as she told us about their recent trip to Rotorua. My daughter apologised for being a bit late as she had been delayed having coffee in the village with her kids’ friend’s parents, but we assured her it wasn’t a biggie so all good.

The family’s trip was a great holiday with camping by the Blue Lake and some exciting day trips to all the attractions that Rotorua is famous for. A highlight of the trip was a treetop adventure called the Canopy Walk and the pictures looked fantastic, as did the Redwoods Treewalk Nightlights which followed after a full day swinging through the treetops.

Some of the eateries in Rotorua are a must-do for foodies, offering an eclectic mix of tried-and-true Kiwi favourites combined with a truly stunning array of gourmet dishes from all the far-flung corners of the globe. Take your pick; the variety is apparently never-ending and the Rotorua dine-out world is literally your oyster.

As we talked to our daughter about her trip we laughed and shared experiences of the Polynesian Pools and the Canopy Walk and the campsite where we used to stay together when she was a child. The memories came flooding back. What good times we had!

But as we shared the holiday together I came into the present with a jolt. I realised with a shock that my wife and I would never again camp by the Blue Lake. We would never experience the Canopy Walk, the Luge, the Redwoods Treewalk, the hot pools or any of the gastronomic delights of this famous Kiwi tourism destination.

You see, we haven’t been injected. Although we hold passports claiming to prove our citizenship of the former New Zealand, my wife and I are no longer full citizens of this country in which we have paid taxes for all of our working lives. And although we continue to pay our rates, we are no longer able to use our local council’s facilities. No swimming in the pools for us, no entry to libraries, no hiring a hall for our nephew’s wedding, no entry to the golf club pro shop where I developed my game as a teenager way back when the world was free.

It’s a funny old life. How things change.

As my daughter and her children put on their masks to go to the car I wondered how the kids would fare when the school term starts. But I guess I needn’t worry. The children are adjusting pretty well to the uncertainty around whether or not they will be actually attending a ‘school’ this year. Apparently in the Brave New World of Aotearoa, it’s not necessary to have any actual physical social contact with other children as they grow up and learn about the evils of white colonialism and the miraculous scientific discoveries of the Tangata Whenua.

It’s a funny old life. But sometimes I yearn for the old days camping by the Blue Lake. Oh well. Those times are gone forever now.



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