Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan: 'Housewives' shows reality of NZ divide

We don't really believe this show of ostentation do we? Photo / Norrie Montgomery
We don't really believe this show of ostentation do we? Photo / Norrie Montgomery

We are just like the rest of the world. At least, that's what we seem to be saying. There are two New Zealands on display and each is as un-Kiwi as the other.

Yes - says the Real Housewives of Auckland - we also have Rolls-Royces! We have fashion shows and white tablecloth restaurants and personal hairdressers who come to our houses for sundowners and styling.

RHOAK is saying, "We are just like you!" Little old New Zealand, at the bottom of the planet, isn't too far away for Louis Vuitton to send its dog leads to sell.

Julia is our ringmaster in the carnival of spending. In episode one, she asked how much a necklace cost. Cool as a cucumber, the shop assistant said $65,000.

Cups fell out of hands in front of TVs across the nation. Julia, though, absolutely had to have it.

Our housewives are holding their own with the stars of the multiple series from the US.

Soon RHOAK will be syndicated for the rest of the world to watch, and the Auckland housewives' houses will look as big as the mansions in the Real Housewives of New Jersey.

They'll be seen spending just like the five most wealthy housewives of Orange County, who are worth about $160 million combined.

But we don't really believe this show of ostentation do we? Yes, Julia is rich, but surely even she would baulk at the ridiculous cost of the necklace if the cameras weren't there? She is Kiwi after all.

This isn't what we're about. We're humble. We drink beer in pubs, don't brag, and hate the thought of causing discomfort to anyone within a kilometre radius.

But equally, the poverty on display in the British newspaper the Guardian isn't very Kiwi.

A fortnight ago, the paper told the story of a family of six who'd lived in a South Auckland motel for a fortnight. In the online article, their picture sits underneath the headline, "New Zealand's most shameful secret".

A few days ago, Al Jazeera filmed a mother of two teenage boys also living in a South Auckland motel.

Her biggest fear was going back onto the streets.

The international media point out how we have changed as a country.

They say New Zealand used to be a pioneer of the welfare state, but now we're letting our own people down.

So, when you look at us through the eyes of the world, we really look no different.

- Herald on Sunday

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Heather du Plessis-Allan is a columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a thirty-something trying very hard to avoid growing up. So far it’s working, except for the husband, the mortgage and the proper job. She lives between Auckland and Wellington. When she’s not writing for the Herald on Sunday, she co-hosts TV3’s 7pm current affairs programme Story.

Read more by Heather du Plessis-Allan

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