Everything is different in New Zealand, they say:
Christmas is in summer, which is in winter.
Water goes down the plughole in the same direction as in Germany, which is precisely the opposite to what everyone tells you.
An above-average number of New Zealand have an above-average standard of dress, especially if you include the penguins.
Some things are exactly the same as back home in Berlin, in Prenzlauer Berg. They have electricity, the internet, supermarkets, hostels, construction sites and all the other blessings of civilisation. And just like back home in the East Berlin district Prenzlauer Berg, the indigenous inhabitants are in the minority. At least that’s what they say, since in the last 20 years so many people moved from West Germany to East Berlin.
(Photos taken from the Dummy Gallery)
In many respects New Zealand was a late starter. The original inhabitants only arrived in the 13th or 14th century from Polynesia, and were left in peace until 1642, when 150 years after the rediscovery of America by Columbus, the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman stumbled on New Zealand during his quest for the fabled, and fictitious, “southern continent”. Tasman did not even set foot on land, and more than 125 years passed before the next European expedition into the region. So it is hardly surprising that Christchurch’s city charter dates back no longer than 1856.
But in other ways New Zealand has tended to be a step ahead of the rest of the world. Male Maoris gained the eight to vote and seats in Parliament in 1867, at a time when indigenous peoples elsewhere were still being enslaved, carted off to reservations or killed. In 1893 New Zealand became the first country anywhere in the world to give women the vote. And since 1999, “non-humanoid hominids” have enjoyed special protection – so along with human rights they also look after “ape rights”, so to speak. Furthermore, since 2016 animals have been defined by law as beings with the capacity to feel and suffer, rather than just assets on legs, or with wings, fins or slimy skins.
Even the new year starts 12 hours earlier in New Zealand than in Germany.
It is as if the New Zealanders are trying to grasp the future to make up for the past they lack.
But all this is just theory, courtesy of Google and Wikipedia. I want to see whether the reality matches this image. Will I be meeting no-one but smiling, tolerant, well-informed citizens of the world and contented sheep? The one thing I know for sure is that as you lot back home are toasting the arrival of 2018, I will already be sleeping off my first decent blow-out in the new year!