My current interest in self-imposed interuptions. Like moving to a town/city in Suffolk for 6 months. There's an interruption if ever I saw one (well, it is if you've spent the last 26 years living peaceably in Wellington).
There are many and varied reasons why it is probably a good idea (and a couple of profound ones why it isn't). But mainly, I decided to throw all the toys out of the cot and see what happened.
So far so good. The overwhelming impressions are:
* the vague familiarity of everything
* missing my relationship, and
* how nice it is to do things the hard way (for a while).
I think this is one of the significant things I've always liked about tramping. Not only do you get completely fabulous scenery, but you also get to find out what you cook if you have to carry all the food and aparatus and use only fire. Perhaps my penchant for cooking on coal bbq is similar, or sleeping in the living room.
I'm noticing how important it is to get the balance right between what you keep familiar and what you let be different. Currently I miss Ceri and Ponstan more than anything else.
but we actually have one of the oldest continuous Parliaments.
I remember being shocked when I read that on the back of a text book while studying - but in some ways it is true.
While we only became an independant country from the UK in the 1930s or 1940s (depending on whether you follow the date they told us to bog off or the date we finally accepted it in law), we have a Parliament which has sat without let or hinderance since 1854. Only a handful of other countries can say the same thing.
So, how come?
Well practically all of africa, asia the near east, and south america have had revolutions or wars in the last 150 years - each of them requiring a break between governmental systems. Australia and Canada have both federated since 1854 requiring an entire governmental rethink. The USA had a Civil war through the 1860s.
Practically all of Europe has been conquered in the last 150 (usually more than once) and there have been a large number of countries changing shape (for example Yugoslavia, Italy and Germany).
Jonathan Hunt points out were also the first country to offer full voting rights in 1893, which includes the important point that Maori could vote from a very early stage.
p.s. I'll be attempting to get into Westminster at some point to watch the Politicians - which will be interesting after the faux-bombing of Blair with purple flour. Hooray for accessible politicians.
p.p.s. okay so you could also point out that we tossed out the upper house in 1950, stopped having elections during the second world war, and probably didn't have much of a government until Seddon - or possibly Massey have it shape near the turn of the century. but that would be quibbling. :)
So, an alternative to the bill currently before Parliament:
* allow the law to grant title to foreshore where Maori can prove they have a right to it
* set up a legal structure which protects access to and enjoyment of important areas of New Zealand.
That way Maori can be granted legal ownership over areas the current (mostly pakeha created) law thinks they belong to. We can break the pattern of land confiscation and changing the law to suit ourselves. All requirements of honour and justice are served. Maori relationships with the land and sea are recognised.
And we can also create a system that recognises and protects all citizen's access to and enjoyment of those areas we regard as being important to us. This would apply to *all* areas of importance, including:
* areas of foreshore currently in private (and sometimes foreign) hands
* areas around rivers
* some walking tracks across private land
* some mountain tops, and
* some historical areas (possibly including war memorials).
These areas would need to be specifically designated and recorded, possibly following the pattern of conservation or defence land.
The access rights would require balancing against the interests of the private owners, but would create a starting point which favours protection of the BBQ and the swimming lesson.
Possible reasons for restricting access to these 'important' areas might include:
* safety of the public
* conservation values
* commercial risk, or
* national security.
This would protect most existing restrictions (the Wellington harbour includes restrictions over Shelly Bay, Thorndon, Moa Point, Lyall Bay, Evans Bay, Pencarrow Heads, Owhiro Bay, Soames/Matiu Island, Waiwhetu stream, Fort Dorsett, most of the western side of the harbour and Island Bay at the moment, and all these uses would be continued).
Regional and City Councils could stop any structures being built or rubbish being created.
Hell, the rights of access could be an constitutional right if they were entrenched in the Constitution Act.
In addition, none of the 'important' areas could be sold (except to the Government).