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]

Thanks for reading! This is my December 4th Sunday newsletter. I only publish about 1:4 newsletters so if you want to get them delivered to your inbox on the last Sunday of every month, please provide your details in the box below.

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