Editorial: Village idiots can save day


On a trip to Kohukohu, the village hall was decorated and throbbing with locals and visitors of all stripes having a whale of a time dancing at a ceilidh.

Girls in wench dresses, superannuitants in kilts, mums, dads, kids, farmers, fishers, woofers, Westies, Kerikeri businesspeople, Auckland artists in skinny jeans, feral greens and devotees of more obscure hirsute sects all lined up together, then whirled around the floor, and each other, high on the oxygen buzz, the music and the hilarious collisions.

Even cool young dudes who wouldn't otherwise be seen dead joining in, could see the merit in dancing with every girl in the room.

Kohukohu, on the shores of the Hokianga - a ferry ride from anywhere - is a village time forgot; great community facilities, a slim waterside cafe/art gallery/library/ jetty/op-shop strip, hillsides dotted with picturesque wooden villas. Maybe it's too far off Highway One and reliable shipping channels to have lured developers or morphed into a tourist ghetto.

No doubt isolation is challenging (the dance floor emptied abruptly when the last ferry left) but village life has its charms.

Where townies can access large enough peer groups to socialise exclusively with others of like mind/age/leanings, in small villages any one is lucky to find kindred spirits, therefore friendships and collaborations develop across social divides.

Small populations are not powerful consumer groups either, so they make their own fun, and facilities.

If something needs doing, committees, working bees and imaginative fundraising events ensue.

Where people are few, everyone counts. All hands to the pump - often literally.

Sometimes it's a stretch. In my closest small village, one exceptionally capable person held office on so many committees he had occasion to write letters to himself.

New Zealand is a village too.

We all went to school with future governors-general, got up to no good in our misspent youths with future MPs, bishops and school principals, and knew someone whose sister went on to clean for Kim Dotcom.

Often we must wear several hats.

None of the best stories can ever be told.

Accordingly, appropriate ethical discretion is essential - as National MP Nick Smith discovered when he fell foul of an alleged conflict of interest between his personal and professional roles.

Arguably, the whole world is a village.

We all know the likes of someone who hongi'd with the Prince of Wales, who rented Spike Milligan's house, whose niece is Bob Dylan's secretary, who partied with Mick Jagger, had a singlet torn by Lonnie Donegan, married Muammar Gaddafi's chief of defence forces, or built a dinghy out of the King of Tonga's bedboard.

I know I do.

There is no "them" anywhere; there is only "us".

There is nowhere far enough away to escape consequences either; as another National MP, Gerry Brownlee, discovered when his blundering buffoonery about Finland went global, sparking a near-diplomatic incident, derisive ripostes and a ban on New Zealand beer in a bar near Helsinki.

Smith and Brownlee's behaviour was embarrassing, but there is hope.

Just think, if enough National MPs embroil themselves in public disgrace, the National-led Government could lose its majority in time to save the village from its disastrous welfare reform and asset sales plans.

Cause for dancing indeed.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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