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The close relationship between community and social harmony

on Sunday, 01 September 2013.

WE ENJOYED the privilege last winter of touring South Island, New Zealand. It’s an incredibly beautiful, uncrowded country and we found great similarities with Atlantic Canadian sociology.

We DID NOT see:

A single street person or beggar;

A single example of spiked haircuts, or “goth” outfits complete with chains and mandatory scowls;

A single display of discourtesy;

A single example of public drunkenness;

A single person crossing the street with eyes and attention firmly fixed on a mobile device;

A single young person using a mobile device whilst ignoring adult company;

A single example of extreme speed on the highway;

A single egg yolk that was not orange, from a free-range chicken.

A single big box store

We DID NOT hear:

A single emergency vehicle siren;

A single voice raised in anger;

A single child crying in the street;

A single occurrence of public profanity;

A single instance of rowdy behaviour in any commercial accommodation;

A single example of raucous loud music emanating from a vehicle on the street;

A single person talking loudly on a cellphone in a restaurant.

Instead we DID see:

Young people most often dressed for exercise or outdoor pursuits;

People waving regularly to strangers as a function of habit;

People engaging total strangers in spontaneous small-talk;

Local fare on every menu and scant fast food outlets;

Polite kids in school uniforms;

Aboriginal folks obviously well entrenched in mainstream business and culture.

And we DID hear:

Birds, everywhere, all day, every day;

Deferential, relaxed conversation at all levels.

New Zealand has a heavily rural-based population with strong family values, strong work ethic and long roots in agriculture and commercial fishing; a solid love of the outdoors and wildlife, and a clear appreciation of abundant pristine natural resources.

Ring any bells? People much like us on the other side of the planet.

Is their striking social harmony just coincidence do you suppose?

~ Linda & Jim Gourlay

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