New Year's resolutions nullify themselves by their own failed history. So why make a vow hardly anyone keeps? Why do you choose the first day of the year to lose weight, make money, to be nicer, see your gym membership out? And forget all the failed vows of last New Year?

So, keep making the resolution, and keep at it every day. When each tomorrow comes, you're one day in better health, or advanced in a project.

Maybe start with a resolve to spread a bit more love, be of conversational cheer and silent of mean words and harsh criticism. Love and positivity, like weight loss, is pretty apparent to all.

I arrived in New Zealand on New Year's Eve and spent it with friends on Waiheke Island. Of course I wallow in the company of my family and Kiwi friends. As a people we're a lot more open, friendlier, and open to good-humoured teasing than the French.


Australians and New Zealanders have that culture of taking the mickey out of each other. Start with a sporting contest, followed by wine or beer social lubricant, and the social aftermath is hilarious, the friendly insults outrageous, if less so to sensitive souls. It's the way a lot of Kiwis behave.

The French, even after years of knowing them, still feel the same as when you first met: nothing deep and personal has taken place. A more open French mate told me of his countrymen, "We walk around like something's stuck up there. Ffftt!"

Kiwis, Aussies and probably Canadians have a mate culture. For us, what would life be without mates - and that applies to women too. Girls' nights out in France, far as I know, do not exist. Nor does dropping in unannounced at a mate's place for a drink.

As a Facebook observer rather than active participant, I love seeing photographs of freshly caught and cooked crays, all types of shellfish, caught/gathered at people's holiday spots. Kiwis enjoy their beaches and food gained from the sea. Dropping off "a feed" of seafood is our custom.

Friends tell me I have stars in my eyes for the French. Yes, regarding their sense of culture and love of literature. But I love being a Kiwi, even if there are all sorts of overt "Kiwi" types I don't prefer.

Every summer I'm home I feel so Kiwi eating corn on the cob. Supermarkets, however, are not near as good as their French counterparts. But for sheer social exchange and noise level, it's the NZ supermarket all day. "Gidday, mate," "How ya goin'?" They are lovely Kiwi phrases.

I've said it time and again: Kiwis, don't lose what you have. Don't worship the false idols of materialism and consider monetary success anything more than a reflection of your efforts, nor think that your bad taste or having more money makes you of better character.

What we do lack is a proper cultural identity, like the Basques in my part of France. It is a culture several thousand years old which has survived a typical fraught European history. Like the Basques, New Zealanders need a musical identity, national or regional songs we can sing together.


Maori have given us the haka but kept kapa haka to themselves. Pacific island culture has not been taken up by the majority. European culture is dissipated, modern, borrowed; none of it reflecting who and what New Zealanders are.

I'd suggest that being the pioneers of women gaining the right to vote should be a celebratory part of our culture in the form of a national song. Every child should be taught early that our own Ernest Rutherford was the first to split the atom.

The country's best cartoonists should be folk heroes, for they say in a drawing and a few words who and what we are as a nation. Songs serious, witty and reverential should be about our legendary school teachers, celebrating their influence on generations of pupils.

Our best writers should be remembered in public readings of their works, our best artists known by every New Zealander - and only the rarest of politicians celebrated for contributing to this nation.