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Ciaran and Ruth's Worldwide Adventures

Lady Norwood

NEW ZEALAND | Sunday, 12 August 2007 | Views [525]

Not knowing who Lady Norwood is, was, or will be, we nonetheless took the time to visit the rose garden named in her honour, because Ruth's family home shares a name with that lady. Unlike the garden at no. 76, the rose garden on the hill overlooking Wellington is a desperate disappointment for anyone looking for roses - and you could hardly think of another reason to go there. It is winter of course, making the garden - to be seen in the hinterland in the picture above - look something like the result of a nuclear holocaust.

Speaking of the nuclear threat - NZ like Ireland is vehemently anti-nuclear, and fairly pacifist in their outlook on the world. They do, however, have a number of remnants of a past during which - as a loyal British dominion, they were more involved in international scuffles. Outside their Botanic Gardens they have a Krupp Gun - a piece of heavy artiliary seized from the defeated Germans in France at the end of the First World War. The gun stands high on a military post built - but never used - to defend NZ during what they called the Russian Scare. This little episode of untold history apparently relates to NZ's worry about attack from pre-Soviet Russia at the end of the nineteenth century.

It's maybe a bit hard to understand, but the seemingly insulting title of dominion doesn't pose much of a problem to the Kiwis when used to refer to their country. As an example, Wellington's most popular newspaper is the Dominion Post. Granted, this is a historic carryover, something I suppose like the royal insignia on some of the old postboxes in Dublin. Still though. One letter to the Dominion Post last week might be of interest to you. A lady (I assume - the name was Kerry - could have been a bloke I suppose) wrote to the paper telling of her (his?) recent trip to Ireland, during which people were still complaining to her (him?) about Tana Umaga's assault on Brian O'Driscoll in the Lions' first test in 2005. (S)he wrote with complete disbelief about how the Irish need to move on, but recommended to NZ's Bord Failte (whatever they're called) that they do not, as they were considering, use Umaga as part of their promotional efforts in selling their country to potential European tourists. Damn right. The man does have a bit more time on his hands now though - just a couple of days ago he played his last game for Wellington - much fanfare etc around here to mark the retirement of the local legend. Another All-Black legend - someone they probably should consider for their European ads - Jonah Lomu is making the news about a one game switch to Rugby League with Barry's (our Sydney host) RL team - the South Sydney Rabbitohs. In case that's of interest to you.

The Kiwis are thoroughly nice people - they really are. The lady who helped us hire our car today went to extraordinarly lengths to assist us. There's always a bit more agression in their accent and voices though, we think, than the Aussies. Their political shows on TV are some craic as well - there's no spin, handling or management. If someone's acting the idiot, then they're called an idiot. Straight talking. There's an almost complete absence of political correctness here. On a political satire show last week one character compared Auckland busses to Maori fathers - they're never there and they smoke too much. Goodness me. Last week when we enquired about luggage storage and someone made an absurd suggestion (something stupid as I remember), one of his colleagues butted in with "They're Irish, but they're not that Irish". Bit behind the times, but yeah, for the most part - nice people.

Tags: Sightseeing


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