A black cloud looms over 'the land of long white cloud'

Published: Mar 16, 2019, 15:29 IST | Roy Subir Kaunds

The hype though is not too far from the truth. Kiwis actually believe the myth as do millions of others. I did too

A black cloud looms over 'the land of long white cloud'
The writer with Ethnic Liaison Officer Constable Robert Stanton at an annual Holi event in 2017 in Auckland.

Aukland: At 1.45 pm Friday afternoon local time, New Zealand lost its purity. All it took was 17 minutes of diabolic, demented carnage and 49 deaths, to completely shatter the decades-old, deftly-designed '100% Pure New Zealand' brand. Think New Zealand, think heaven.

The hype though is not too far from the truth. Kiwis actually believe the myth as do millions of others. I did too.

Crime? What's that?

We migrated to New Zealand 13 years ago. A few weeks before my family left for New Zealand we met Mumbai's Pradip Madhavji, who was at that time the Honorary Consul of New Zealand in Mumbai to ask him about life in Aotearoa. It means 'the land of the long white cloud'. The Honorary Consul drew a rosy picture of the country. "Do you know there is no crime in New Zealand," he said. "The cops don't carry guns, pepper spray." We, of course, didn't believe him. Madhavji though was telling the truth.

The people are friendly, the criminals are bumbling, the cops are Keystone, and the scenery is from a Bronte novel and, aside from the fact that some Indians are a bit dodgy and the Asians can't drive, it is the closest to Paradise. But not since The Fall has a piece of Paradise so quickly turned to dust. Coincidentally, two weeks ago the media and the politicians were squabbling over the permission given to Christchurch police to temporarily carry side-arms while trying to track down a young man with mental health issues and a gun.

The public feared the man may be killed. That is how they view life.

Less strife life
Kiwis don't understand religious strife. The only riots they know of are when four drunks have a punch-up outside a bar. Jihad, burkha, hijab, fidayeen may well be words from the next Star Wars franchise. They don't mean anything to a Kiwi. They respect the Pastafarians, a joke religion, where adherents wear a pasta colander as a headgear. The religion is a joke, the respect is genuine.

In many ways, New Zealand is Neverland, a nation of innocents. Yesterday, New Zealand lost its innocence. The Prime Minster cried on TV. Yesterday a European woman wailed, "Please let them pray in peace," as she placed a bouquet for the fallen. Yesterday, a billion people stopped believing in '100% Pure New Zealand'.

Yesterday, New Zealand passed into the ages. A long black cloud hangs over the land of the long white cloud.

Roy Subir Kaunds is Honorary Secretary of the Indian Association of New Zealand. He was assistant editor, mid-day from 1996 to 1999.

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