The single greatest victory Kiwi sportspeople have had over our close friends and rivals, Australia, was on February 1, 1981. In front of a packed Melbourne Cricket Ground, Aussie Trevor Chappell rolled the leather ball along the pitch to stop our batsman hitting a six to win the game. We didn't win that game, but we won the moral high ground.
We already did have the high ground right from the start with Te Tiriti o Waitangi. A document that, while being flawed, was groundbreaking compared to the more brutal attempts of colonisation that had preceded it in other nations. In 1893, we were the first to say a woman had a right to participate in a truly democratic nation.
The high ground was elevated in 1985 when we told the world nuclear weapons and nuclear-powered ships were not welcome in our rohe. Throughout the 90s and the noughties, we started to really address our own historical mistakes with the way our indigenous people were and still are treated. In 2013, we started to get altitude sickness from living so high after we finally agreed you could marry anyone you liked, as long as they were old enough and they were keen on you.
We are not perfect and we are still making mistakes. Our history is littered with things we are not proud of - Parihaka, Featherston, Vietnam, the 1981 Springbok tour and, on a less serious note, the 2007 World Cup quarter-final.
The reality is that internationally we have had it easy. Sitting down here surrounded by stormy waters, we have not had to deal with the real world. We don't have boat people like Australia has; or act as the world police like the Americans. We can close our borders and minimise the effects of the pandemic; we don't compete for water like Egypt and Ethiopia do, or compete for forests, air or rivers like most of the world does.
Down here in the South Pacific, our islands and a few others dotted close by are the only nations on Earth that do not have natural enemies. Even our brothers and sisters in Australia have historically had to peer over their shoulders at Indonesia and, now increasingly, China.
This is the Chinese century. The world's largest nation, just like American last century, is starting to flex its own boundaries and figure which countries will bend, which will break and which will snap back. We didn't bend to old Uncle Sam but we seem quite happy to do so with Uncle Jinping.
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Our Anzac brothers and sisters were pushed a lot harder than us, and they have snapped back, their signing of a nuclear submarine deal with the UK and the US a shout to the world that the true Australia battler will not be bullied.
As an ex-sailor in the Royal New Zealand Navy, I understand the political and real power a nuclear submarine represents. They probably were the only reason we did not have a nuclear war last century and they may be the best weapon to stop China taking complete control of some of the world's busiest shipping lanes this century. And they don't cost us anything!
Yes, our "morally inferior" neighbours are stumping up billions in cash to try to keep our neighbours in Asia independent and the cheap imports flowing into the Auckland container port and on to Kmart, Warehouse and Bunnings stores all over our motu.
Perhaps it's time we stopped looking down our noses at our neighbours and started looking them in the eye.
The only constant is change.
• Dave Mollard is a Palmerston North community worker and social commentator.