There's something about the Rainbow Nation called South Africa that touches you deep inside when you go there. More than anything for me, there was a fascination to follow the long walk to freedom, the journey and story of Nelson Mandela _ Prince of Peace and President of the Rainbow Nation of South Africa.
The fascination was fortified after listening to his impassioned plea to Maori when he visited Aotearoa in 1995.
He spoke of Ubuntu, the process of reconciliation through forgiveness, and he called on Maori to learn how to forgive for past injustices, just as he had to when they released him after 26 years in prison on Robyn Island. I was sold on his solution so I went to have a look-see for myself.
If I were to try to tag the feeling I felt when I arrived it would be one of what has been, what is now and what could be, or as they say Is It? And when I went back again to script children's stories I began to understand and appreciate how the same situation of historical circumstances applies here at home, with a recipe of reconciliation the only answer.
I guess one of the verses of South Africa's beautiful national anthem says it all.
"Lord Bless Africa, Banish Wars and Strife. Lord Bless Our Nation _ Of South Africa."
And that's where I will make my one and only comment and comparison about what is happening with another nation up the road, the Tuhoe Nation. In one weekend during my stay in South Africa there were 122 murders. Many if not most were committed by blacks on their Caucasian countrymen, and again and again the hatred was fuelled by the inability to find a common ground of forgiveness for what had happened in the past.
I have no idea what weapons are or are not being stockpiled up in the Uruwera mountains by Tame and his mystical Tuhoe tamariki (children of the mist), nor do I understand for what purpose they would need them, if that is what transpires. I have met Tame a few times and for my two bobs' worth the analogy made by Parekura Horomia of an ageing rock star sits about right with me.
But what I do know is guns are not the answer, nor have they been, nor will they be in the future.
When I watched the World Cup lifted up above Springbok shoulders yesterday morning I had more than a tear in my eye for the children of the Rainbow Nation. I was emotional because I understood what it meant for them as I have seen their struggle and listened to their songs of redemption.
If we think we have a long walk to freedom here in the land of the long lost world cup then we all need to walk a mile in the shoes of South Africa, who know where it is we could be heading if we allow any form of tribal terrorism.
I am sure there are many happy homes of South Africans here in Tauranga, who are bursting with pride and good for you. YeBo! Your team of Rainbow Warriors brought home the bacon, or should I say Biltong.
For the rest of us who wake up to a beautiful bay that has plenty, let's learn from the prophets of peace Rua Kenana, Te Whiti, Te Kooti, Mandela and Mahatma.
And if you are still struggling to make sense of it all, buy a copy of Michael King's History of New Zealand and then buy a ticket to Moana & The Tribe, performing next Saturday night at the Crystal Palace during Arts Festival week. Both are amazing.
Sure it can be hard to forgive sometimes, especially when it comes to Pommie referees or Aussie underarm bowlers but forgive we must if we have any hope of understanding Mandela's message of Ubuntu _ the gift of forgiveness.
When I sat soaking up the sun on the cargo shed balcony yesterday afternoon, listening to the live music of a brilliant band called Hipnotic Era, and waving to the world go by, I found myself slightly entranced and asking the question _ What election, what World Cup?
Pai marire