Hail the volunteers

A recent international survey placed New Zealand as the second worst country for expats to live in.

In Editor’s Note4 Minutes

A RECENT INTERNATIONAL SURVEY placed New Zealand as the second worst country for expats to live in.

Country-Wide editor Terry Brosnahan

The main gripe was NZ was too expensive, the cost of living too high.

Anecdotally expats and people returning from overseas travel have said we are too controlled and glum.

It is easy to be negative given what is happening in NZ and abroad. The rest of the world has mostly moved on with Covid but we are still subject to controls and expectations. Inflation is pushing up costs, the Reserve Bank is in disarray and the economy is heading for a recession.

Government legislation is adding more cost and pain. Global warming is blamed for floods and fires in NZ and Europe. Wokeness, a failing fourth estate and social media witch-hunts have endangered free speech. It is easy to offend these days.

Then there is the Ukraine war and if Russia starts firing nuclear missiles, global warming will not be a problem.

Despite all the gloom there is much to celebrate.

On a personal note, it is more than five years since the first of my three brain tumours along with others in my body. It is an understatement to say it has been a reality check. It has made me look for the positives in life and there are plenty of them.

Every day is now a good day, though some are tougher than others.

We should celebrate the unheralded army of volunteers in rural communities.

Recently I attended the funeral of a friend Eileen Gordon (91) who had lived in the North Otago town of Kurow and been a St John’s volunteer for 51 years. As well as raising a family and helping her husband run the local grocery store, Eileen was often away in the ambulance attending to emergencies.

She made me think about the thousands of volunteers all over NZ keeping our rural communities going. Farmers, mechanics and others are ready to unselfishly give their time and skills for community groups, schools and coaching sport. Fire brigade sirens would be silent without them. When there is a weather crisis an army of rural volunteers emerge for the clean-up.

There are also the random voluntary acts from farmers who cut a fallen tree across a rural road or bury a rotting dead seal at a camping spot because DOC or the local council staff were unavailable.

Advocacy for farming has sucked up a lot of time in recent years and stretched the volunteers involved in water catchment groups, farmer groups, Federated Farmers and Groundswell.

Whether you agree with them or not they are unpaid volunteers spending countless hours doing what they feel is best for rural NZ.