I was privileged to witness the All Blacks massacre of the Australians in Sydney over the weekend, leading a tour group with Lakers House of Travel. Any pre-match trepidation among our ranks was extinguished after about five minutes as the New Zealanders put their trans-Tasman foes to the sword.

The first half effort was a sublime display and left even the most ardent of New Zealand rugby critics in awe of the speed, accuracy and ferocity demonstrated by the men in black.

The Kiwi section of the crowd was a blend of all walks of life, although out own little contingent was dominated by farmers and those that worked in the agricultural sector; with the exception of one man.

Every group seems to have one, an individual who exists in a slightly different realm yet unwittingly provides endless amounts of entertainment for everyone else. Our bloke was from Auckland and made an immediate impression.


He seemed to only twig that he was effectively on a tour with a bunch of farmers after an initial get-together in the hotel bar.

That proved to be no deterrent and after being viewed with some initial suspicion, he turned out to be an affable sort of chap.

In fact, he was affable with just about everybody, sparking up conversations with everyone from gun-toting cops to burly Irish darts fans. One day he decided to run off a hangover, found his way to Kings Cross and made friends with an Estonian dancer!

The first night we arrived he decided to keep on going when everyone else turned in and ended up raising the ire of security guards when he tried to get into the Maritime Museum at three in the morning!

The moment he twigged he was in the company of farmers was when the discussion turned to the treatment of dairy cows. He echoed the sentiments of many a Kiwi urban dweller and descried the treatment of some animals that have recently been highlighted in the news. He figured something was up when he was roundly turned on by some of the other tourists for his "hippy, townie no bloody idea" views on the matter.

However, and here's the crux, he was willing to engage and ask questions, to find out more about the intricacies of life on the land. Like many things, it's never black and white and our affable JAFA gained something of an appreciation for a part of New Zealand he'd never really considered.

The flip side is those custodians of the land need to appreciate not everyone knows exactly what they do for a living. To my way of thinking that's understandable. No one knows the finer points of someone else's job - why would they?

It's my experience that belittling people for their shortcomings increases resentment, not understanding. Rural New Zealanders have often shaken their heads at the ignorance of their urban counterparts and in turn the city slickers have harboured disparaging views of their country cousins.

That, of course, serves no great purpose to either sector of society. For such a small country with such a tiny population it's also a slightly puzzling phenomenon.

And so as our weekend developed, a microcosmic realisation slowly dawned through some sort of alcohol-induced osmosis and our little group started to come to a collective understanding of each other's predicaments.

It was nothing earth shattering, just a small, almost subconscious, fractional abridging of the urban rural divide. And I haven't even mentioned Brokeback Arrowtown... maybe another time...