To The Editor,
Let me start by saying I thoroughly enjoy the regular columns from Sarah Linney. They are often witty and provide a truly different perspective on how the world can see America. The article published on the 25th; however, left a lot to be desired.
One blasé, off-handed remark about a wonderful southern hemisphere country really caught me by surprise. Until this, I felt Linney was a new breed of Australian woman, that she had evolved beyond being termed a ‘sheila,’ had moved passed the sheep jokes and could possibly even bridge the proverbial rift that underlies the two southernmost countries of the world. The comment: "New Zealand doesn’t count" is what truly shocked me. I do not speak for all of New Zealand, but I feel this continual trampling of New Zealand is starting to truly affect people’s view of our country.
New Zealand, in fact, does "count" and here is why: it was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote, adopt an eight-hour working day and introduce a retirement pension. We have more bookstores and golf courses per head of population than anywhere else. Kiwis were the first to climb Mt. Everest and split the atom, invent the self-sealing lid, the stamp vending machine, the wide-toothed shearing comb, the bobby pin, the electric fence and the jet boat.
Geographically, New Zealand is a visually stunning place. Being 1,000 miles in length, with varying width across the two main islands, New Zealand is bigger than England, is similar in total size to Colorado, but has only 4 million people. Twelve hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) means New Zealand is the first country in the world to see the sunrise everyday.
Specifically, in relation to the Upper New York region, New Zealand’s 68 million strong sheep flock ranks fourth in the world, and the country’s raw wool production contributes to over 40 percent of the world’s coarse wool. We keep you warm.
Natural forests cover about 6.2 million hectares of New Zealand and because the country has been isolated from Gondwanaland for over 100 million years, many ancient plants survive only there. Over 70 percent of our energy comes from renewable resources and New Zealand has a strict nuclear/genetic engineering policy – it’s no. No ships or planes with nuclear materials can land or dock in New Zealand, and none of our food is genetically modified. Employed persons in New Zealand do not depend on tips or gratuities for their income. There is only one tax system, so you don’t have to pay state and federal taxes.
Though many of you may be thinking that New Zealand is the single greatest place in the world (it is), to keep it fair and balanced, here are some warnings. There are no civil lawsuits, so if you pick a fight and some guy knocks your teeth out, you can’t sue him. We drive on the left and use the metric system (it‘s base ten, it’s just logical). Automobiles are mostly Japanese secondhand, and similarities in prices for some items (such as food, petrol and entertainment) are common, though electrical items are much more expensive in New Zealand. A 12.5 percent Goods & Services Tax (GST) is included on all items, and all prices are tax inclusive.
I do hope people will now realize the valuable contribution to the world New Zealand gives. Obviously, I have only talked about a few of the many wonders of New Zealand but I believe I have made my point that New Zealand does "count." Hopefully Linney will restrain herself before making sweeping remarks about a truly magnificent country.
Benjamin N. Hope
(New Zealander – Obviously)