COMMENT:

Hot weather does strange things to people and in New Zealand the summer heat manifested itself in a sudden outbreak of moral indignation.

The trials and tribulations of a group of tourists from the UK prompted much holier-than-thou tut-tutting from the populace of New Zealand.

There was rubbish left on the beach, threats to 'knock your brains out' by a young boy, rude treatment of restaurant staff, attempts to dodge payment. There were reports from passengers on a plane, including a claim of dirty nappies left in the overhead locker.

Advertisement

They got pinged for the wrong child seats in the car and – oh, gasp, clutch those pearls – an attempt to walk through the drive-through at Burger King. That was the tipping point for the police to be called.

One of the group was treated to charges of shoplifting and pleaded guilty. It was hardly worth the effort – a pair of sunglasses, some rope and energy drinks from a servo. There was some evidence of dressing gowns being worn to the servo.

The crime that most outraged people was not shoplifting, but boorish and obnoxious behaviour. New Zealand, being a nation of saints, was having none of it, thank you very much.

Even the politicians weighed in. Rotorua MP Todd McClay announced on Facebook they were personae non gratae in his hood. Auckland Mayor Phil Goff denounced them as "a***holes," "leeches" and "trash." "We know who they are," he added rather ominously.

Immigration New Zealand eventually concluded they were of bad character and issued deportation notices. Goff was allowed to remain.

This treatment of the tourists was a great shame and unjust consideration for their efforts in providing two days of sterling entertainment. They should be treated to a worldwide tour.

There were timelines and maps of their exploits as they travelled down the country, by this stage a convoy with a string of media trailing behind them.

The defence one gave was that he was "just a fat kid from England on holiday." Another claimed his grandfather was the 10th richest man in England.

Advertisement

The only place there was more of a circus on offer was in their homeland, where MPs were soundly rejecting British Prime Minister Theresa May's attempts at a deal on Brexit.

Jacinda Ardern's trip to Europe

Over here, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared to be running under the motto that if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.

It has been four weeks since New Zealand heard from Ardern but at some point in the next couple of days, she will re-emerge from the cocoon of a summer holiday to get on a plane and take off to Europe.

The primary aim of Ardern's travel is not to deliver an eye for an eye on the unruly traveller front, but to go to Davos for the World Economic Forum.

Ardern will tout her Government's move to put 'wellbeing' indicators into financial reporting as the lead of a panel called "More than GDP." Climate change will also be top billing.

But the greater value in the trip is the proximity of political leaders and the great and mighty.

Ardern has enjoyed a peaceful holiday but her European counterparts certainly have not. They cannot afford to.

The current tumult around the Brexit deal is reason enough for Ardern to be there.

She will bookend her travels with tactical visits to other European countries.

The details of her travel are yet to be announced but if British PM Theresa May is in her schedule, Ardern may get the chance to make the same joke former PM John Key once rocked out about meeting an Australian Prime Minister: that it was always a surprise to walk into the room and find out who was waiting for him.

Ardern's main job is shoring up New Zealand's position whatever the outcome of Brexit talks and looming no-confidence vote in May. New Zealand is in the preliminary stages of free trade talks with the UK and negotiations with the EU are well under way. They must not be derailed.

Her visit may go some way toward redeeming British tourists in the eyes of New Zealanders. At Davos will be one of Britain's greatest travellers, someone New Zealanders are fonder of than the so-called Unruly Tourists: Sir David Attenborough.