Have Another Very Raglan Christmas

perspectives from the surf

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a blog post on my internationally-focused well-made lives website, wishing everyone a very Raglan Christmas. You may have read it.

It was fun to write. I had to explain where Raglan was, what it meant, and how the concept of a laid-back summer holiday had permeated our culture. I even found some very helpful advice on what to do if you get caught in a rip.

I quoted the 8 Tribes book I wrote with Chris Brown:

“The key word for the Raglan tribe is freedom; its icons are the Adventurer and the Artist. Raglan tribe members want to create and control their own destiny. Their approach to authority is not so much defiance as indifference. They need to do what they need to do and if the rules don’t fit then the rules are wrong.”

Re-reading the post, there’s one bit that catches my eye:

“But on the positive side, I think this Raglan spirit is one of the reasons New Zealanders are among the happiest people in the world. Raglan tribe values figure more strongly in this country than in many other Western countries. Probably Australia would be next. For the record, we’re 9th happiest in the world and Australia is 10th.”

That was according to the World Economic Forum. For the record, on their list we are now 8th and 9th – sorry Sweden. However, in terms of bragging rights, I much prefer the Legatum Institute’s finding that puts us at #1 in the world for prosperity. There, the rise has been steeper – they had us 4th in 2015.

So I’ve been wondering:

Is New Zealand going up or are the others going down? I remember writing a tongue in cheek newsletter years ago about moving up the OECD, which used to be a preoccupation in New Zealand. I suggested that instead of working harder and harder, it might be easier to focus on sabotaging the economies of the countries above us. But they seem to have done it to themselves.

Selfishly, I hope our happiness and prosperity may long continue and that it extends to all of us, not just the favoured few. At the same time I really hope the brave new worlds taking shape in the US, UK and other parts of the world aren’t too intense and that the President-Elect of the United States will stop lying about everything. It’s so unseemly. Though this article by Masha Gessen suggests he won’t.

In that regard – I’ve been binge-watching The Lie Detective on some more or less legit website online. [They have Pak n Save ads so I’m guessing they’re OK]. The Lie Detective is a Channel 4 [UK] programme featuring New Yorker Dan Ribacoff. It involves potential, existing and former couples who have been offered the opportunity to have ‘the most honest conversation of their lives’. The show uses a combination of lie detector tests and Ribacoff’s skills [I guess] as an observer of micro-expressions and voice characteristics to verify or negate the answers people give to each others’ questions.

It’s very well made and perfect for summer viewing. The participants have a range of ages and situations – some of their situations are funny, some are sad, some are lovely and some are so deeply insightful about human relationships. I particularly liked the middle aged woman who, given the opportunity to go out with her husband Dave as himself or his cross-dressing alter ego Paula, instantly chose Paula – because she’s so much more fun.

That’s called playing it as it lays – one of the secrets of life in the Raglan Tribe.

So have a lovely laid-back Christmas and try not to think too much. No more newsletters in 2016 but I’ll be back with something inspiring for the New Year.



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The Lay of the Land – NZ Perspectives

Back to New Zealand perspectives this week – with some thoughts about values, a great podcast and a heartening report.

I’ve been thinking about NZ values – mainly because anglo-european values are in flux and I want to see what’s happening here. I’m sending out a proposal for shared research, which will hopefully mean I’ll be spending the late summer travelling around the country talking to all kinds of people about what they want, what they believe and why. I’ll look at our shared values and also our contested values. Maybe I’ll even discover a new tribe or two, out there in the wild. Here’s a backgrounder. It’s called The Lay of the Land: Values, Tribes & Perspectives of New Zealanders in 2017.

A Truly Kickass NZ podcast

I’m probably the last person in the country to have heard of the [now discontinued] ‘How not to be an asshole’ podcast. On the face of it, a couple of comparatively ancient [late 30-something] white rappers may not seem like they’ll be the coolest kids on the block, but a friend sent me a link to their most recent podcast [Episode 53, July 2016] that was truly exceptional. [I can’t find it now but here’s a video they did  with Jacinda Ardern from 2015 which is historically interesting  and just shows the calibre of this woman – hint – it’s high].

It featured homelessness campaigner and serial entrepreneur James Crow – the co-owner of Tommy and James, ethical food manufacturers who owns Little Island Coconut Creamery.

He’s a guy who, as a child, experienced a massive change of circumstances when his parents divorced and his bipolar mother struggled to cope. The person who emerged out the other side is smart, empathetic and with a breadth of experience that both horrifies and astounds. James’ analysis of politics, homelessness and how to get things done in New Zealand is masterful and engaging. He is such a great storyteller.

His social issues website Gimme Shelter Aotearoa explains the need to establish a data set on New Zealand’s homeless people – especially rough sleepers. He set up a campaign to raise 20,000 to fund a homeless and rough sleeper health survey [HARSH] but was unsuccessful at the time.

What it takes to lead the world’s Prosperity Index

We won. I’m sure you know that already. The LegatumProsperity Index™ 2016 ranked New Zealand #1, for all the right reasons.  They state:

“New Zealand is the world’s top-ranked country. Over the past decade it has consistently delivered a large prosperity surplus through the combination of a strong society, free and open markets, and high levels of personal freedom”

In other words we are the neo-liberal dream. We score highest on the economic quality, but also on the social capital index: 99% of us say that we have family or friends to rely on in times of need.

The Legatum Institute also singled out the British Commonwealth as a producer of greater prosperity, than even the Scandinavians, and said,

“Freedom is at the heart of this opportunity. In these countries people are most free to pursue their ambitions and achieve their potential. Of all the world’s nations, New Zealand is the most tolerant of immigrants.” [P20].

Not to be too self-deprecating but being small and far away with lots of space probably helps that.

But on that Freedom issue,  as Sapiens author Yuval Noah Harari says:

“Ever since the French Revolution, people throughout the world have come to see both equality and individual freedom as fundamental values. Yet the two values contradict each other. . . The entire political history of the world since 1789 can be seen as a series of attempts to reconcile this contradiction. [Page 183].

Unfortunately for the UK, it seems better at gaining wealth than sharing it, compared to the other top-ranking Commonwealth countries – us, Australia and Canada. The Institute says:

“Standing in Hull, it is hard to imagine the UK as the third-best deliverer of prosperity in the world. Walk through this northern city’s estates and you are struck by a deep-rooted poverty of prosperity. It is the least prosperous part of the UK; a city where children grow up without knowing aspiration and the elderly die having never seen much beyond the end of their street. Yet, Britain stands out as a world leader in turning its wealth into prosperity.” [P22]

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