A New Culture – Quality Before Quantity

Opinion by Tony Orman

“It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good,” my dear mother used to say. 
It was an adage that I initially  found somewhat confusing but now I know through experience.
The recent experience of lockdown due to covid19 didn’t bother me particularly. Oh I couldn’t go up in the hills during level four. But in the outdoors particularly hunting you learn to be patient and wait for the storm to pass. 
Such was one autumn hunting trip in the early 1960s, when John Henderson and I were “locked down” by a raging southerly blizzard on the exposed snow grass heights of the Tararua Range in an unlined, rudimentary fridge-like Kime Hut with no stove or fireplace for three whole days. 
The hut rocked in the stronger gusts. At night a possum came up through the floorboards to see what pickings there were amongst our food stores.
We had to ration the food, sparingly but cool headed about it. No radio, no television no cellphones – they weren’t around back then.
So recently I wryly grinned when a teenager on television declared himself “bored” after the first few days of lock down. Poor fellow! Unlike John and myself in Kime Hut, he had at least 20 TV channels, a radio, no doubt heat pump or heater and his inseparable, insufferable cell phone.
Then came removal of level 4 and people stampeded the reopening of fast food outlets, car queues spilling out onto thoroughfares. It was pathetic behaviour by people addicted to junk food. It showed that people were not prepared to pick up on the potential good that was and is still there from the ill wind of Covid19.
But I’m unimportant in an ill wind like the virus, it was the chance for people collectively and as a country to make some real gains for a healthier and better society.
People panicked almost like a sheep mob, buying toilet paper in supermarket stampedes. Many who didn’t probably know which way up to plant a seedling, rushed gardening centres for vegetable plants. 
The Covid19 was a chance for us to look at ourself in the mirror, a good searching self-analysis.
We been living in indulgent excesses and those of the wrong kind.
I often wonder how people like Sir Edmund Hillary, the legendary All Black Colin Meads, 19th century Charlie “Explorer” Douglas and a host of rugged, but gentle by nature, high country farmers long passed away, might view today’s society. Fifty years ago New Zealanders were a land-conscious outdoor people. The Kiwi face might be weather beaten but physical skills were fitness epitomised, moral values were mostly strong and dominant and each family drew sustenance from judicious living, striving, tending the vegetable garden to be as self sufficient as possible, spending prudently and with a community spirit.
That spirit carried families of New Zealanders through the several years of the Great Depression of the 1930s and the several dark years of World War Two with food rationing, blackouts in case of enemy air raids and a frugal living existence focused on self-sufficiency in contrast to today. Yet people strived, crime rates were so low that a murder anywhere, was big front page news, burglaries were rare. 
But all that was eroded as politicians from 1984 onwards, inflicted the New Right neo-liberal stranglehold on society plunging the country further into economic debt and moral and social decline to the extent of decay. 
The reality is that since 1984, we have been on the path to both economic and social bankruptcy. Economically the country is heavily in debt, indulgences from imports overwhelm earnings from exports (trade deficits), consumerism runs rampant and governments mesmerised by the God of GDP,  pursue growth and more growth with no thought of environmental or social consequences.
New Zealand recently passed five million in number. There is no thought by major political parties of population limits and of planning. More people and more people. But more people and more people demand more and more resources. Their emissions by more cars and more jet flights increase. In a ‘chuck away’ consumer society there’s more and more landfall garbage. 
The government’s 2020 budget subtitled “well-being” was nothing like that. It was a sham. It was borrow and get deeper in debt and throw money about. I would have admired a strong message from government irrespective of whether Labour or National was leading it – knuckle down, jettison the excesses and let’s soldier through these tough times and rebuild a caring, compassionate and coherent society.
Perhaps if I was totally cynical, I’d suggest an election later this year influenced the budget.
In a sincere “well-being” budget, it would have been more than prudent to implement immediately a population policy and population and planning ministry and to ditch the shortsightedness of GDP for GPI, a Genuine Progress Indicator that embraces not only economic but urgently needed social and environmental needs for the future.
New Zealand needs a culture of quality, not quantity.

© What legacy will we leave for tomorrow’s generations?

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13 Responses to A New Culture – Quality Before Quantity

  1. Roger Dewhurst says:

    I think that you are saying, in rather different words, pretty much what I was saying.

  2. Bryan Tichborne says:

    Spot on Tony… Maybe we’ve come too far along the road of consumerism & an indulgent society?

  3. David says:

    As a 76 year-old I couldn’t improve on that!
    My boyhood memories include the luxuries of an old water tank for a hut, a crystal set for the wonders of technology and an old no-gears bike to ride 1/2 hour to school in all weathers.
    I know I’m sounding like the Month Python sketch about today’s young people not believing what used to happen – but I’m glad I grew up when I did. It was fun!
    Well written Tony.

  4. Steve Vee says:

    I don’t know who is. Responsible for the country in particular it’s direction . It definitely not politicians as they are only temporary mouth pieces voted in term by term. Possibly it used to be England, but they have had to step aside. It may be the UN but why ? Any way we are all no nd to the direction NZ is taking, in the 50s it was clearly a proud bicultural society. Then in the 70s we imported a lot of polynesian people under think tank growth policies so much so we became part of the Pacific Islands and moved away from colonial England. Now we are looking like becoming a satellite of Asia or even China. It’s about time we seriously set out the fabric NZ and it’s “people” are to be.

  5. Dave Witherow says:

    Excellent Tony.
    But it’s too late. We’ve mortgaged the farm, sold our industries, introduced apartheid,
    forgotten our history, and filled our cities with parasites and our universities with gutless braindead clowns.
    I too am glad I knew this country when I did.
    It was brilliant, and now it’s stuffed. (like most of the rest of the planet).

  6. Stewart Hydes says:

    Thanks Tony
    On the face of it, I’d say “hear, hear”.
    Probably, most thinking people would .. the world over.
    But we are wrong to blame everything on “the government”, and its policies.
    In reality .. that would be giving ”the government” too much credit.
    Governments don’t vote themselves in .. we do.
    Governments didn’t invent consumerism .. we did. Along with everything else.
    And it’s us who continue to drive it.
    It plays to our greatest weaknesses .. our fundamental flaws.
    In fact, when you think about it .. maybe we have an inbuilt self-destruct mechanism?
    Much of what you describe .. is a global trend.
    And many of us “thinking people” .. are actually sitting in the driving seat.
    Albeit that too many have given themselves over to ‘the dark side’ .. they care most about financial success .. and mostly, their own.
    Our systems .. and indeed, the measures we use within our societies to measure ‘success’ .. are set up to feed and reward reward ‘the dark side’.
    The government didn’t make it that way .. we did. Individuals legitimately and cleverly invented and designed the companies, products and services that exploit this .. and we support them.
    Many of the world’s most so-called ‘successful’ people .. should actually, probably, be locked up .. for collective crimes against our planet.
    But then .. they are nothing, and can do nothing, without us.
    I have been saying lately .. the biggest political problem with democracies the world over .. is that maybe between half and three-quarters of the population .. are not ‘fit to vote’. They only take a passing interest in the ‘nitty-gritty’ of politics. They only have a superficial knowledge and understanding of political policies, and their implications .. and this is the basis upon which they vote.
    The art of political success .. is to say what you want to say in such a way that it appeals to the maximum number of people possible .. and *doesn’t* appeal to the fewest number of people possible. And do it with a charismatic, winning smile. Winston Peters epitomises this .. John Key was a player .. and now Jacinda Ardern has eclipsed them all.
    She’s like the Pied Piper .. and great swathes of our population are apparently mesmerised .. following blindly, as we plunge deeper and deeper into the economic and social abyss.
    To the extent you point out our social and economic decline .. our species is a victim of its own “success”.
    Worse than that, practically all species on the planet .. and indeed our planet’s environment .. what we often refer to as “our natural world” .. is victim of OUR species “success”.
    We’re dragging everything down with us.
    You could say this current pandemic is Mother Nature’s way of attempting to fix the biggest, single problem on the planet.
    To this extent .. perhaps we should embrace it. It’s a good thing. And the reality is .. if this pandemic doesn’t work .. she will simply have another go.
    Nature’s most successful mechanism for sorting out excess populations .. is viruses.
    Globally, our population needs sorting out .. more so in some countries (nothing more than ‘pockets of humanity’), than in others.
    On the other hand, let’s be real. New Zealand remains a beautiful .. and safe .. country in which to live. It’s not too late, for us. Despite a sharp decline in key areas, in recent years .. we actually still could fix this.
    From where I sit .. this is, and remains .. the greatest country on earth. Not what it used to be, sure. But not a lost cause, either.
    Those of us who work hard to right wrongs .. to fix things, in some small way .. need to keep on keeping on.
    If what we are saying is truly right (and who are we to judge, really) .. we can only hope others will eventually join us. Or at least pick up our baton.

  7. Dave Rhodes says:

    “Never underestimate the stupidity of smart people in large groups”

    Explains so much about Governments, Bureaucracies and more specifically the electorate.

    It’s our own individual stupidity that allows things to deteriorate so far, and as part of “The Group” we feel more like sheep following the other sheep, than being our own leaders responsible for our own affairs.

    Sadly we seem to prefer following a Judas Goat – we’ve been doing it since Rogernomics!

  8. pete says:

    Early close of all pubs clubs and taverns at 10.30pm like it was between the 6 oclock swill and now.
    Bring back in late night Friday shopping or a maximum of everything closing mid day Saturday.
    Give families the chance to be together. Closing the all night wandering and drinking by youth might then force them to find the same entertainment of the past in sport or outdoor pursuits
    Would only take a political party with some nuts to think outside the sandpit like a lot of European countries do and we would be well on the way to restoring our Nation

    Wishful thinking!!

  9. Paul O'Donoghue says:

    No doubt you and Bill Gates agree on world population control, but the question is are you willing to be one of those to be eliminated for ‘the greater good’? Because that is exactly what the globalists are proposing with their mandatory ‘vaccination’ policies (amongst others such as a digital cashless currency ‘reset’ and shortly to implement worldwide ‘to save us from ourselves’ Wink wink!!


    I cannot believe Ardern has said she will give over $100 million dollars to ALL the Maori Maraes within New Zealand.This is extremely racist in my view. Hospitals, warm houses, clean waters and urgent needs come first. I’m sure there will be a backlash about this.

  11. David Haynes says:

    Action speaks louder than words. So, extract yourself from what you criticise, most Kiwis have a garden so turn the lawn into a veggie garden and re-establish the quarter acre pavlova paradise.

    Go fish for trout, snapper, kahawai, gurnard and kingfish. Hunt for deer, chamois, tahr, pigs, rabbit, hare, pukeko, ducks, geese, swans, quail.

    Forage, trade, swap and barter surplus food with your neighbours. Share tools, we don’t all have to have a brushcutter each.

    Go shoot some “pests” and bone them out for amazing goat stews, render the fat to cook with, boil the bones for stock and then burn them and spread them on your garden or paddocks.

    Raise a chook or two for eggs and meat, learn to eat what is available, not what you want. Plant gooseberry, boysenberry, blackberry and blueberry bushes and apple and plum trees and make fruit wine.

    Strive for resilience through greater self and community-sufficiency, not Government hand-outs.

    …and do your bit for population control by growing nearer to death each day!

  12. Les Kelly says:

    Hi Tony, well written; in a word ‘avarice’

  13. Duncan Macready says:

    A story from my childhood .
    Every day some bears slid down the side of a mountain and stole ham sandwiches from the children waiting for the school bus . Not , as you may suspect , because they liked ham sandwiches , but because they used the ham fat to grease their bottoms . This enabled them to slide down even higher mountains and steal even more ham sandwiches. Not , as you may suspect , because they liked ham sandwiches , but because they used the ham fat to grease their bottoms. This enabled them to slide down even higher mountains and steal even more ham sandwiches. Not , as you may suspect , because they liked ham sandwiches , but because they used the ham fat to grease their bottoms. This enabled them to slide down even higher mountains and steal even more ham sandwiches.
    This is the way our economy works when driven by population growth .

    Most of NZ’s land is not suitable for urban development or even farming ( but is eminently suitable for hunting and fishing ). We no longer grow all our own food , we import pork , spuds, frozen veggies, biscuits, ice cream, bottled fruits etc etc .

    We import people in sufficient numbers to swing political opinion which ever way the party in power wants it swung .

    The great NZ outdoors is shrinking , and access to it is fading away . The campgrounds ( and batches) where so many NZrs traditionally went for holidays are now either highly developed housing areas or full of tourists

    The use of tragedies to gain political fame , power and fortune , is , in my opinion , beyond the pale .

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