2017 has certainly been a challenging year for those of us who like to see the world in black and white.
First, many expected the All Blacks to wipe the floor with the British Lions, only to face the real possibility of the Lions winning an All Blacks series for the first time in 46 years. The eventual result – a lame finish to the best series in decades with a 1.5:1.5 draw, leaving both sides equally frustrated.
More recently, our election result was even less decisive, with National claiming a moral mandate but Labour arguing that the country had voted for change. At the time, one commentator said (rather unkindly) that early hopes of a Labour/Green coalition were still alive – but only in the way that Elvis is still alive.
A month later, Winston Peters’ televised announcement of our new government could have been mistaken for the final episode of Married at First Sight (without the lifelong commitment for better or for worse, in sickness and in health). Your average teenager taking part in a speed-dating night sponsored by Tinder would feel more secure than our major party leaders waiting on national television for Winston to declare the winners and losers of a New Zealand election.
At least with the election, as opposed to the Lions series, just over half of all New Zealanders were ecstatic. The rest looked like sixth formers from the 1970’s, who having been convinced they had sneaked through an impossible University Entrance maths exam with a 51% score, subsequently found out they had failed with 49% – because it was actually NCEA, and they had handed in a basket-weaving assignment two hours late. In those days, everyone dreaded 49%, as it meant repeating the entire sixth form year… A wasted year surviving on half-cold meat pies from the tuckshop while wondering how anyone could possibly work out the square root of a negative number. Or, in many cases, giving up maths for a more forgiving subject – as of course, maths is the most unforgiving of subjects, and we have now discovered to our amazement that it sometimes takes three political parties (not two) to add up to more than 50%.
Jacinda Ardern is now left with the challenge of making sure that the strongest opposition the country has ever seen doesn’t gradually pick off her coalition’s members of parliament one by one because of some heinous sin. If, for instance, any of her MP’s wander out of Kmart with $89 underpants paid for by the government (which happened with a previous MP) no doubt they will be relentlessly driven out of parliament and her majority eroded by one… probably with more to follow for other egregious sins. Of course one can only speculate on issues of national security, but we do wonder if most current MP’s are unlikely to buy their underwear at Kmart. Presumably, an advantage of their anti-immigration policy is that they will now be able to join long lines of New Zealanders in black singlets and gumboots when buying clothes at their preferred retail outlets.
In any event, credit should be given where credit is due, and both leaders of our two major parties deserve it. Bill English has left New Zealand in better financial shape than many other countries, and Jacinda Ardern has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in a remarkably short time. Both have acted graciously at all times, and neither has resorted to 160 word tweets at dawn, denouncing all and sundry.
We look forward with interest to the next three years. Elvis, it seems, is alive and well after all.