Posted by BE on January 30th, 2015
I arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand in mid-September 1964 to take up a lecturing position at Canterbury University. My wife, infant son and I had been airborne for around 36 hours with a two-hour break in Los Angeles to have a shower and freshen up. We were greeted at Christchurch airport by the head of the German Department, not yet a professor, who escorted us to his Volkswagen Beetle into which we poured ourselves, our child and our luggage with some difficulty.
We were, it transpired, to be billeted in a motel until we found permanent accommodation. The motel was in somewhere called Riccarton where the yet-to-be-professor said he would deposit us while we ‘settled in’.
As we were shoe-horning ourselves out of the V-Dub I twisted my ankle on the unexpectedly deep culvert that is a feature of some New Zealand cities, but unknown in Northern Ireland and Scotland. A twisted ankle is extremely painful and I made a comment along the lines “stupid bloody gutters”. My new boss responded that if I wasn’t going to like it here, perhaps I ought not to have come.
I would later discover that it was a prerequisite of acceptance to New Zealand society that you should “like it here” and fulsomely express that liking from the moment your plane touched down and certainly no later than the second when your feet met the tarmac at the bottom of the gangway. Jetlagged heads of state, visiting politicians, Hollywood stars, the famous and semi-famous were greeted by anxious media with variants of the same question: “What do you think of New Zealand?” occasionally more directly expressed as “How do you like it here?” Read the rest of this entry »