And so the moment is upon us: Inauguration Day for some, Appalled-Migration Day for others. For those of you in the latter camp, evacuees from the American fever dream, Trumpugees, Hollywood liberals and huddled snowflakes yearning to breathe free in our Pacific idyll, haere mai.

You've made it through immigration, which means you've satisfied the two-step verification process: carrying no apples and answering a few simple questions about the works of JRR Tolkien. Congratulations.

With a bit of luck you've already settled on somewhere to live. There's plenty of room in our biggest city, Auckland, mainly in golf courses and car parks, but if you're after a more ordinary, down-to-earth hardworking Kiwi town, there are sweet deals to be found in Queenstown.

Given you've come here to escape the spectacle of a Trump presidency, rest assured you're unlikely to have your first days here overwhelmed by coverage of the swearing-in hoo-hah, with its pomp, self-importance, and mid-ranking pub bands from suburban Delaware.


You can safely get started on building the underground bunker without the fear of current affairs leaping out of your radio or television because New Zealand basically doesn't broadcast news at all in January.

Things will get back to normal soon, however, with a range of output returning, comprised mostly of shows hosted by Mike Hosking or Jesse Mulligan, two men who affect a sanguine approach to the world while secretly plotting to destroy each other.

To fill the gaps in the media schedule during these hazy, summery, stormy early weeks of the year, we are instead entertained by a very New Zealand tradition: cantankerous coots chuntering endlessly about the state of things - often but not exclusively in the form of diatribes about Maori or poor people.

You might at first be alarmed by this exhibition of intolerance, fearing that a Trumpesque streak is alive and well even in this distant paradise. But you will soon come to recognise that it is an elaborate seasonal prank, staged by some of our finest comedians - a performance art as quintessentially dry and redolent of New Zealand summer as sauvignon blanc.

You'll soon understand after watching one of the most famous of these characters, "Sir Bob Jones", who this week has been reprising his routine about beggars, who are "lazy" and "usually ... fat Maoris".

No one can be entirely sure who plays "Sir Bob Jones", but I suspect it is Rhys Darby, one of our finest comic character actors. Whoever it is, he or she has committed several years to animating a hilarious caricature of a man, whose feats include admonishing women who are victims of indecent assault as "silly" for walking in a park to getting thrown off a flight for refusing to follow a safety briefing and declaring his secret to staying young as "having it off all the time". This is Les Patterson and more, really.

"Sir Bob" is probably the outstanding example of the form, but there are other examples of emerging stand-up comics giving it a bash. "Mad Butcher" is one persona that attracted attention in the early days of the year, though whoever was playing the part lacked a bit of perseverance, and apologised for saying something daft, rather than upping the ante. Moreover, "Mr Butcher" is hardly a plausible name.

The crucial thing to remember amid all of this festival of mirth, which crescendos in the leadup to Waitangi Day, is that it simply underlines that we are a progressive society; our race relations are so terrific - we have the best race relations in the world.


We are a peaceful people, too, or at least for the most part. Rumours that we are currently at war with nuclear-armed Israel are an exaggeration. We frankly haven't got the arsenal to take them on, as it is presently devoted to our War on the Weather.

For much of this week, for example, the New Zealand military confronted a brutal weather bomb, presenting challenges for pilots that would daunt the most advanced air forces in the world, in the form of landing a 737 in Wellington, as well as the extensive deployment of our much envied gumboot technology, so named for being constructed from the jaws of Kaimanawa horses.

As a nation we are devoted to being tough on weather and the causes of weather, and accordingly the frontline war effort is supported by think tanks, devoted to wiping out the roots from which weather springs, while at the same time cognisant of the risks of over-reacting and becoming a recruiting sergeant for more and worse weather. The same experts have been tasked with eradicating earthquakes, which chief scientist Brian Tamaki is confident of achieving pretty swiftly.

I am obliged to inform you, dear Trumpugee, that 2017 is election year. But think of this less as jumping out of the frying pan into the fire as jumping out of the smouldering swampy abyss into the therapeutic thermal pool.

You can confidently expect that the contest here, unlike the one you've just witnessed, will rank comparatively low in boasts of sexual assault, incitement to violence and comparison of penis size, though maybe less so that last one. We remain a constitutional monarchy, but the royal figureheads, Elizabeth, Richie and Gemma, are in practice largely ceremonial.

You'll soon get to meet the leaders of the main parties, who in line with tradition have both adopted names they believe describe the essential character of the nation. The Prime Minister, Bill English, who took over recently from the other guy, you know the one, nice chap he was, will greet you with his signature line: "I didn't choose the skux life, the skux life chose me." Our politics are not perfect - we face internal conflicts, such as the aggressive struggle for primacy between rival groups New Zealand First, Family First and Flooring First - but it is nothing like what you're used to.

Put it this way: if you mention "crooked Hillary" people will adjust the rabbit ears above their breakfast television. Most of us assume a golden shower to be sunset rainfall in the Marlborough Sounds. And kompromat sounds like something you might take to a pot luck dinner.

Speaking of food, be sure to try the national dish, rawshark and ghost chips. If you're an outdoors lover, please note that domestic gardens remain banned, that rivers are tapu (sacred) and reserved for the use of our nationally revered cattle, while national parks are all booked up for decades, with the single exception of Hobbiton, which is open to all, thanks largely to Sir Peter Jackson, our most illustrious film-maker and owner of the lower North Island.

You're going to love it here. If you can look past the child poverty, housing crisis and prohibition of cold medication that works, we're just about unbeatable. Just remember the golden rules: whether in the bush or on a suburban street, never approach a moa, and always blow on the pie.