AS I SEE IT : Tim Hamilton, Chief Executive, Basketball New Zealand, Wellington

How would you describe the New Zealand identity?
At the end of an epic sporting battle, what is it you feel when you see team of New Zealanders step onto dais to collect their medals? The New Zealand flag faded within the television image of the athletes raising their hands in triumph, followed by our anthem resounding around the stadium, is what stirs within us feeling of togetherness, national pride, passion and intense satisfaction. The social mood of our country seemingly lifts at this dramatic scene as we celebrate one of our own achieving greatness. I often wonder if an image of this success reflects our own identity, in that our ability to conquer all has been achieved against the odds of our small population, the issues confronting our multicultural society, our remoteness, maybe even our quirkiness. This world-class feat brings satisfaction, unique togetherness of small nation whose ability to rise up has once again occurred.

What will be the country’s next major challenge?
While many people in New Zealand can reflect on their heritage and trace the roots of those who have gone before, there is still sense of uncertainty of what we collectively see and value as issues affecting us. We have unique set of characteristics led by the make-up of many cultural groups that brings with it many different customs and traditions. Cultural identity is an important contributor to an individual’s wellbeing; it creates sense of belonging as well as feeling of security. This diversity also represents our challenge. While there are many benefits to this diversity it also causes tensions and barriers that need to be broken down.

What do we need to do to prepare for this?
The recent successful division of land between iwi of the Auckland area and the Crown has highlighted for me how potentially sensitive and acrimonious situation can be turned into significantly positive accomplishment. This was successful because of the shared interest in the greater good that put aside differences and focused on agreeing on an outcome that would work for all. As New Zealanders each of us needs to have the exact same attitude. While we all tend to view issues through our own respective lenses, we need to put aside assumptions about culture, be broader in our view and accept differences. We need to listen to all views and consider whether our tendency to be impulsive in judging somebody could in fact relate to misunderstanding. We need to refocus our current attitude and be more accepting of each other. We should see ourselves in much the same way as that winning team saw themselves as they worked for their win. Together, we can achieve more.

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