What happened to the idea once floated of making New Zealand the Switzerland of the South Pacific, Paul Burt asks?

Do we have a problem with attitude in this country? It seems an inescapable part of the aging process is to reminisce about the past and harbour a growing dissatisfaction with much that is modern.

The media is full of the problems that beset society but how many are self-inflicted? I accept that it is a different world now but during my childhood New Zealand was at or near the top of the world living standard index.

Conviction, determination, self-discipline and resilience. We celebrate (demand) these attributes from our sport heroes but many ordinary people find it so hard to apply them to life.

Is it a coincidence that in this indulgent age, few speak about good manners and self-control or has the rest of the world simply left us behind. The lack of either of these attributes causes so much personal grief and the consequences consume so much effort and money we should all be concerned.

I could drone on about the state of personal accountability where company directors face court action for negligence and government decisions revolve around being re-elected rather than a greater good. Are egos bigger than they ever were, are reputations less valuable and has power become more seductive.

I sympathised with comments made recently by expatriate philanthropist Owen Glenn, regarding our national outlook. What I think he was saying was that in the many years since the idea was floated to make NZ the Switzerland of the South Pacific we have gained no traction. But oh, what we can do when we try.

A non-compromised 100% effort to have the best rugby team in the world has borne fruit and is a matter of national pride. The agencies responsible for improving our social statics could only dream of that commitment and that result. Why is it proving so hard to put a stick in the spokes of this wheel of averageness on which we are spinning.

On the employment front we describe blue collars and white collars but what do the self-employed wear. What- ever shade it began I expect it’s a bit grubby by now as most self-employed people I know succeed because they possess an inner Steve Hansen. Smaller of course but just as driven and tough.

Conviction, determination, self-discipline and resilience. We celebrate (demand) these attributes from our sport heroes but many ordinary people find it so hard to apply them to life.

As farmers we know our business inside out. Staying viable requires skilled and strategic responses to the extent that our grassland livestock models are the best in the world. However, too few of us (myself included), have the willingness and ability to become involved and apply this skill to the industry at large. This lack of passion for the extended industry has produced the averageness that is holding us back.

Food and communication are basic human needs. Unlike the other, the industry we’re involved in suffers from a lack of excitement and glamour which translates into a lack of capital. We’re hamstrung into doing the same things we’ve always done and it shows. By comparison, Apple and Microsoft re-invent themselves every couple of years and the results say it all.

I think the only way we can change attitudes is by raising the sights of young people. It’s our duty as adults to foster an appetite for learning both academic and practical. There is a greater need than ever to teach financial literacy and life skills in general.

It’s a tragedy to let loose on the world so many young people who have yet to (or may never) build their self- esteem. It’s a tragedy that so many lack the ability to cope with disappointment. If each of us can change a perception that some-one’s glass is half full rather than half empty we will have achieved much.