Richard came to collect me at 11am this morning to take me to the Waitangi Day celebrations. Barefoot bowls in Coogee. Richard explained that Waitangi Day was actually yesterday, February 6. Unfortunately, he said we don’t get to take the day off here so Kea (who organise the festivities) just defer everything to a day that makes sense.
Waitangi Day is NZ’s national day somewhat like Australia Day. Though from what Richard tells me, its far more fraught with conflict and is quite a somber affair. It commemorates the signing of a Treaty between Maori and the British at Waitangi, a place in the Bay of Islands.
We had a fun afternoon having a few Kiwi beers, eating real ‘hangi’ food and listening to kiwi music all afternoon. I even knew some of the songs. Of course we had the obligatory debate over whether Crowded House was a Kiwi or Australian band. We called a truce after about 20mins and declared a stalemate.
We did not do very well at the bowls, still it was a very nice way to spend the afternoon, despite the heat. And it certainly took my mind of yesterdays news.
Afterward things started to wind down we went down to Coogee for a walk along the beach and to sit in the Pavilion to cool off and have a drink.
When Richard dropped me off later that evening, I found it hard to believe that it was after 10pm. We had spent the entire day talking. Turns out he is quite the environmentalist and even supports the same organisation as me, 350.org. He has been in Australia for about 10 years after coming over for a job. He goes home regularly to see his parents and loves tramping and being outdoors, is a bit of an amateur photographer and of course is the consummate computer geek. He was also incredibly intelligent, curious and funny.
Despite myself I had enjoyed the day immensely. So when he asked me if I wanted to go for coffee or lunch during the week, I said yes.
And for the first time all week, I did not worry about Ebola.