UPFRONT : As I see it – Jane Aickin

What are the values that you won’t negotiate on?
My immediate reaction is to list the neat and tidy traditional work values such as professionalism, trust, timeliness, service and loyalty but the reality is that I negotiate or question these all the time. However, I am increasingly steadfast in my resolve to protect and promote tolerance and respect. Friends and family are not negotiable.

How would you describe the New Zealand identity?
In world full of fear and instability New Zealand is increasingly seen as safe, green, proud and friendly. There is also sense of simplicity, connection with the land and celebration of culture.

Who are we as people?
Innovative, determined, sometimes naïve, usually hard working and always quietly proud. We are generally stoic, resilient, friendly, outgoing and yet reserved in our opinions. We are multicultural (whether we like it or not) and risk takers.

What can we learn from our past?
What can’t we learn? I wish I could somehow instantly inhale the wisdom and history of years gone by. We have learnt some fantastic lessons:
Kaitiakitanga: we have always been nation of stewards. People have drawn from this country’s rich national resources for centuries. Tangata whenua have learnt the lessons but sometimes it seems we don’t want to know the answers.
The 1905 Originals tour gave us sense of national identity. We punched above our weight and were taken seriously on the world stage. We have continued to do this over the years: women’s suffrage, the welfare state, nuclear free, economic policies and sporting successes. New Zealand’s willingness to go out on limb, to establish and celebrate our point of difference is very strong. In an increasingly regulated and consultative society I hope we do not lose sight of our willingness and need to take risks to ensure this small place at the bottom of the world retains its independence and pride.
The Save Lake Manapouri campaign showed us that New Zealanders care deeply for the land, landscape and environment. It also proved our willingness to forgo short-term gains for long-term benefits. This campaign was couched as environmental but it was equally social debate. It showed us that all New Zealanders have strong sense of ownership and develop their sense of place from the land. The Foreshore and Seabed debate had similar overtones. Did we learn?

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