It was a pleasure to be one of the first people to read Wahlheimat Neuseeland. The author vividly captures the kiwi soul through her personal experiences, flavouring it with deep intercultural knowledge. I am a born-and-bred New Zealander, and reading the book got me excited and emotional about my own country! I even gave some pages to my Mum to try to translate as she took German for fun in her fifties. My mother is 94 and still sprightly.
One example of my mother’s adaptability – one of the things described in the book – is when I picked her up at the airport the other day, she had no hesitation in coming to our bach where there was no power on. So she coped with no electricity, no running water, no flush in the toilet, no oven to cook or quick way to make a cup of tea! She took it all in her stride and enjoyed the simplicity of it. She brought out her knitting as she said she could still do that no matter what! I put it all down to the pioneering spirit.
My father, aside from his chosen profession as a medical doctor and engineer had many skills up his sleeve. Carpenter skills – he added in a new room to our house each time a new member of the family came along – there are 6 of us (!), electrical skills. He sorted these problems out in our house, built retaining walls and garden sheds. He could also upholster and deep button furniture, lay out vege gardens and make compost. He built us kids a 15 meter concrete swimming pool with solar heating! He even cut his own hair – you would never have guessed! He was also a reasonable artist, violinist and could whip up a decent dinner.
Of course some of these skills were passed down from his father and mother but at that time the DIY was even more strongly evident than today. He said sometimes you could easily do a job properly and better yourself! Do a good job. Be independent. Be resourceful. Instead of relying too much upon others.
The pioneering spirit is still alive! The early settlers (1840s and onwards) needed to be resourceful, self-reliant, adaptable to survive a new life in a strange land inhabited for that time only by strange people. These traits are clearly seen in my parents. And in theirs before them.
The book stirred up so many memories! It is a must read for people who love NZ and like to live in this beautiful country. Long live the kiwi pioneering spirit!!
Susan Sellers, waschechte Neuseeländerin mit Pioniergeist