Remember the days when New Zealand was famous for its sheep numbers and the many jokes associated with that?

While the dairy conversion largely put a stop to that, it appears as if many Kiwis have assumed the role of sheep as they flock to push for blindly following the policies and/or stance of other countries.

I was encouraged by a recent letter in the Chronicle (September 24) by Rene De Jongh regarding the prison populations of both New Zealand and Iceland. The letter was in reply to a suggestion that we should look at emulating their methods.

Thankfully, Mr De Jongh could see past the "romantic ideal" we were being asked to consider and support.


Instead of just joyfully jumping on board the first available bandwagon, he had taken the time to think about the bigger picture, which ended up looking vastly different once you had connected the dots, aka the facts.

Here in New Zealand, we have always had this habit of looking to other countries to find solutions for our own problems. It may sound good in theory but as every country is unique, so too is its problems.

You just can not take a 'one size fits all' approach when it comes to dealing with economic and social issues.

Just because something appears to work successfully in one country, doesn't automatically mean it will be just as successful here and it would be both naive and irresponsible to think otherwise.

The policies, laws and practices of other countries are based on their economy, their population, infrastructure and resources, their crime statistics ... not ours.
No two countries economies are the same, nor are their social problems - many of which we, unfortunately, over-represent statistically, like teen pregnancies, suicide and domestic violence.

It's one thing to wax lyrical about the free or subsidised childcare and paid parental leave of foreign countries but when you factor in our unique statistics, what's sustainable and affordable to them becomes a lot less so for us.

We should be finding our own solutions, ones that are as unique as our economy, culture and social construct, instead of hastily adopting the ideas and examples from other nations that bear little or no resemblance to our own.

We're feeling the fallout of such an example now.


Two female cabinet ministers losing their portfolios, primarily because they were grossly inexperienced for the roles they were thrown in to.

Why? Because our PM blindly decided to follow the lead set by Canada in regards to gender equity.

As PC at it may be, aspiring to have a cabinet made up of equal numbers of male and female was only going to be workable if the candidates were up to the job. Giving positions away based solely on gender over experience was only ever going to end in disaster ... and it has, embarrassingly so and all because no one bothered to look at the bigger picture.

They just fell in love with the lofty ideal and ran with it ... straight into a brick wall!
The hurried attempt to be seen, on both a national and international stage, as a gender friendly, all accepting, supportive, equal opportunity government has failed spectacularly and very publicly. It's not a good look.

This is why we must start thinking for ourselves instead of bleating on about copying others.

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