COMMENT

It was a little like stepping back into New Zealand as it used to be. Beautiful Kaiteriteri on Tasman Bay is run by a public body. Everything, the motor camp, the store, the apartments, the restaurant, the burger bar, is run by a board appointed by the Minister of Conservation.

Everything it doesn't run directly operates under licence to it. The petrol station, water taxis, the mountain bikes, kayaks and paddle boards for hire on the golden sand. Not much sign of competition around.

Abel Tasman National Park is just up the road but the Kaiteriteri resort is a block of Crown land surrounded by holiday homes in expanding subdivisions on the hills overlooking the bay.

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It's Rowling country. Sir Wallace (Bill) Rowling, Labour Prime Minister in the 1970s, was MP for Tasman and his family have been in the district for generations. There's a Rowling Rd and a small monument on the point above the beach dedicated to an earlier, farming Rowling who gave the camping ground to the public.

It's still a Labour seat. Jacinda Ardern (b 1980) could not have known New Zealand before 1984. Grant Robertson was just 13 that year. If they ever wondered what life was like before Rogernomics, I can recommend a holiday at Kaiteriteri.

It was blisteringly hot there this month. South Island sunlight is far more harsh than the warmth we enjoy in the humid subtropical north. My car was parked beside a caravan through the heat of the day. I walked into the store thinking screens for the windows would be the sort of think a shop would stock in a place such as this.

"No, sorry we don't," said the attendant. "It would be a good idea, though."

"Yes", I agreed. I didn't get the impression she was about to place an order urgently.

Down on the beach one afternoon, when the tide got a bit low for swimming, I felt like hiring a kayak. "Sorry, it's past 4pm. We're closing." The sun was shining, the day was still warm, plenty of people would be on the beach for hours yet. Providers of kayaks, paddle boards and just about anything you could want on the beach would be staying open until sunset if this was a competitive business environment.

These inconveniences were trivial obviously. They didn't blight a lovely week in glorious weather with Christchurch siblings who, with seemingly half of that city, decamp to Kaiteriteri every summer. But the small annoyances reminded how much of the benefits of a market economy we now take for granted.

We have got so used to shops being open whenever we need them and attendants who will immediately make phone calls if necessary to find precisely what we need, that many of us know longer appreciate the economy behind it all. Human beings, it seems, are wired to get tired of success. We can have too much of a good thing.

I have succumbed to this watching tennis. I spent the second week of my break in Melbourne. It was the first week of the Australian Open. I prefer to go for the first week and wander around the outside courts watching a variety of players rather than sit in the stadiums and watch the big names go through to the finals.

It has been the same big names for 10 years now. And they are brilliant. Few would dispute Roger Federer is the best of all time, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic stand with the greats of any era. But great players of the past ruled the roost for only five years or so. Federer and Nadal were barely in their 20s before they were beating the likes of Sampras and Agassi.

The next generation of champions is long overdue. That is why there was such excitement among tennis fans last week when a 20-year-old Greek with the looks of an ancient young god and an unpronounceable name beat Federer.

I watched one set of Stefanos Tsitsipas' second round match and have to admit the only thing that struck me was the excitement of his followers. Half of Melbourne's Greek community seemed to be courtside with their national flags. They stormed around Melbourne Park later that day singing and chanting. They knew something was coming.

Tsitsipas' play was indeed sensational against Federer and in his subsequent quarter-final. But he choked in the semi against Nadal whose domination of that match reminded me how great Nadal really is.

Tennis does not matter much, the economy does. I worry that if too many of us have had too much of a good thing, our new Government will start to mess with success. It is already prone to placing its view of the public good above the decisions of consumers in competitive markets.