Clean, Green, 100% Pure New Zealand. Our tourism billboards and food export packaging are awash with helpful information reminding the rest of the world how Eco, sustainable, environmentally-friendly, and downright nice we all are.
Strange, then, that the average Kiwi owns ten cars – four of which are likely to be Holden V8s. Our largest power station runs on coal. Our national train service advertises itself as the ‘Scenic Option’ on account of it taking 15 hours to get anywhere (and so consequently a population the size of Birmingham, England, is serviced by, approximately, 200 domestic airlines). Getting around on public transport in Auckland is so painful, that residents would rather risk prison time for drink driving, or being molested in a taxi, over taking the bus. And 1/3 of our entire GDP comes from cows, the most carbon-hungry, flatulent animals known to God.
Not that New Zealand doesn’t have it’s fair share of unwashed Eco-Warriors. Marijuana, which grows exeptionally well here, attracts the right sort of modern hippy. Crocs are still fashionable, and there’s enough space to cover your log cabin with solar tiles without enraging your neighbours.
But the truth is, the rest of us just love to burn fossil fuels. On our jetskis, our camping stoves, and our V8s. Furthermore, because we all so desperately want to believe that we live in a tropical paradise, for 90% of the country, home-insulation and central-heating is considered an admission of failure. And so, all wet winter long, we burn electricity and LPG trying in vain to warm our drafty houses.
So if, as a tourist attending a traditional Kiwi barbeque, you are handed you 4 large chicken wings and a packet of cheese sizzlers, cooked over a coal-gas burner, being warmed by an outdoor heater, which is powered by a Holden V8 as it is driven round in circles by a hungry bovine with irritable-bowel-syndrome, and your host asks you “don’t you just love how clean and green it is here?” the best thing to do is probably to simply nod your head and agree.
Irony, plucky Irish charm, or comparisons with Australia, will all be disastrously ineffective in these situations.