“New Zealand was the last place in the world to be settled by humans and its isolation and freedom from human interference came it a unique natural environment. The first settlers in New Zealand were the Maori who came from Polynesia. Their arrival from their homeland of Hawaiki is celebrated in myths and legends carried down by word of mouth through successive generations. The Polynesians were master navigators, using the stars, the direction of sea birds in flight, cloud patterns and the colour of the water as guides to make journeys throughout the Pacific Ocean.
The great navigator, Kupe was the probably the first man to sight New Zealand around 950 AD and then returned home to tell of his findings. He named the country he discover the Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud. A few centuries later, around 1350 AD, a great migration of people from Kupe’s homeland of Hawaiki, following his navigational instructions, set sail for New Zealand. They came in seven great migratory canoes, Waka, built to withstand heavy seas and able to carry many people and their possessions over great distances. Present-day tribes still trace their origins to the various canoes and their descendants will still take you to the very spot described by tradition as the first landfall.”
Copyright © Peter and Pauline Curtis – www.uniquelynz.com
With a day to go before leaving, I woke up with a strange sense of anti-climax. Sitting down at the PC this morning to do my usual weekly round up of NZ-related mails and paperwork, it suddenly occurred to me that, with the weekend half over down-under, there is really nothing more to be done online before I arrive in Auckland on Tuesday. With this realisation, years of talking, months of research and weeks of preparations have finally brought me to a point we wasn’t even sure we’d get to. Somewhere along the way, between the first inkling that we might find a better life elsewhere and this, the eve of the trip, we have crossed an indefinable line; the line between dreaming and doing. Given that it is all unknown territory from here on in, I am feeling fairly relaxed and have few worries about the weeks to come, although the thought of being away from the family for three weeks is nagging at me, despite the fact that they are the reason for this whole venture. I’ll admit to a small concern for SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) having to cope with the four sprogs on her own, as previous trips have been peppered with pleas for long-distance telephone discipline for them and soothing words for her. I once ducked out of a seminar in Atlanta to receive a ten-minute lecture on how leaving a Fun Lovin’ Criminals CD with ‘Parental Advisory’ lyrics lying about whilst packing had led to a sprog asking SWMBO what ‘fucked up’ meant in front of company.
I’m interested to see how I cope with spending 24 hours on a plane without going nuts through boredom. However, the real concern I have is being seated next to the passenger from hell with no spare seats to escape. A few years back, on a fully booked flight back from Washington DC, I was seated next to a very pleasant but absolutely enormous lady who ‘overflowed’ into my seat, having neglected to book the requisite extra seat stipulated by the airline. This oversight necessitated me spending the whole eight hours perched on my right buttock, occasionally waking her to ask if she could lift her midriff so that I could get to the seat arm controls. Elsewhere, a Kiwi friend has advised on me on a sleep strategy that will minimise the jet lag. So, after setting my watch to local time as I always do, my aim is to stay awake until we transit Dubai, then try and sleep through the transpacific leg between Dubai and Sydney, hopefully leaving me ready for the last hop to Auckland. As for occupying my time, I’m still pondering the book choices because there’s nothing worse than getting 40 pages into a book only to find it’s no good and you’ve nothing else to read. The iPod is loaded with 1600 songs and I’m sincerely hoping there’ll be something other than a Jennifer Aniston rom-com to watch on my head rest screen.
With such ephemera sorted, it is a pity that the same cannot be said about the more tangible stuff like packing. I am pretty laid back when it comes to packing and rarely get worked up about it – which seems to drive SWMBO mad. That said, I am lucky in that SWMBO usually has a marathon laundry session the week before I leave, ensuring that if I get run over by a taxi in a foreign land, I’ll at least have clean underwear. After more than a few business trips, I have a good idea of what needs to be packed. To avoid leaving essentials behind, I use a number of packing lists as aides memoire; one for my suitcase, one for my garment bag and another for my laptop/briefcase. Even so, the bedroom looks like an explosion in a garment factory and yet, here I am, I’m sitting at the PC recovering from the inevitable ironing that needed to be done before stuff gets packed. On occasion, I have tried unsuccessfully to convince myself that there is no point in ironing clothes that are going to be crammed into suitcases on the flimsy premise that they will undoubtedly need ironing again at the destination. This is just as well because had I not ironed my dress shirts I wouldn’t have discovered that one of our cats had decorated two of them with muddy footprints. When all is said and done, if something needs sorting out or packing then I’m confident I’ll get round to it at some point before I head for the airport – after I have finished blogging and downloading tracks to my iPod, of course.