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Full Circle

Day 142: Auckland, New Zealand

Michael Palin - Full CircleAuckland is a city surrounded by water (apparently there are more pleasure boats per capita here than in any other coastal city in the world), and today it's coming down from above as well. After twenty thousand miles hard travelling one of my trusty bags has sprung several leaks so I have to go into the city for running repairs. My taxi driver is an Indian from Fiji.

'Polynesian?'

'No! I am not Polynesian. I am from Fiji.'

'Ah!'

'If it was not for you British, I would still be in Fiji.'

As we head down Queen Street, tyres hissing, rain streaming, he gives me a short run down on the recent revolution there and the subsequent injustices suffered by the Indian merchants.

'And Britain did not lift one finger to help!'

'I'm sorry.'

'I am sorry too.'

There is a moment's silence. The exchange seems to have cheered him up.

'So, how do you find New Zealand?'

On the way back my cab driver is a big, bull-like man from Tasmania. His father is Irish, and wants to go back there.

'He wants to take his wife,' he says, incredulously. 'The North too, would you believe?'

'The North of Ireland is very beautiful,' I say, anxious to stir it just a little bit. He ignores this.

'Of course she won't let him. She says they're all bloody mad.'

For some reason these exchanges make me see New Zealand as a refuge. The kiwi is perhaps an apt national symbol. A flightless bird that survived here because it was never threatened. There were no predators. Until, of course, the foreigners started arriving.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 142
  • Country/sea: New Zealand
  • Place: Auckland
  • Book page no: 198

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