New Zealand and Social Action

I know that it is a small country, tucked away in the lower South Pacific, but I have to weigh in on how taken I am with the social responsiveness, and political courage shown by the impressive country of New Zealand. Just days after the brutal slaying of 54 people in their place of worship, the country leadership stepped up to show bipartisan support for a ban on assault weapons. This happened in a country that has a similar love affair with guns as we do in the United States. I am impressed.

When the Sandy Hook massacre unfolded a couple years back, there was some banal rhetoric from our political leaders, but absolutely no action, in any way, to address the madness. There was the usual blaming of mental illness for the atrocity, and then they did nothing for mental health intervention or to consider banning weapons that have absolutely no sporting value. Pure cowardice on both sides of the aisle - and an embarrassing display of how lobbies can control our government.

Yet tiny New Zealand, days after an attack, go into action. Not only is this impressive (and instructive) but they also have a strong history of positive relationships with indigenous populations; something also lacking in the United States. The Maori tribe, the indigenous people of New Zealand, are a gentle people both warm and hospitable. I learned this first hand when I was invited to Auckland a couple years back to keynote an “Imagine Better” conference. Before the conference started we were welcomed by the local Maori tribal leaders with a traditional “Hongi” greeting. We processed to the tribal delegation and touched noses taking a deep breath. This showed we were breathing the same air and signaled that we were formally welcomed in their space.

Sometimes things that are simple are just that - simple. New Zealand is a country, and culture, we can all stand to learn from.