New Zealand and Australia are places that, given the opportunity, I would love to have visited. My interest was first aroused as a child when I received, each Christmas, from a never-met distant relative, a book about an Australian animal or bird. The fascination with both southern hemisphere countries continued when I studied them for Geography A Level. A practice paper asked me to, “Outline the significance of grass in the human geography of New Zealand.” Another was to, “Compare the sites, situations and functions of Christchurch and Port Lyttleton.”
In 2011 Christchurch was damaged by nature’s destructive power in the form of an earthquake. And now Christchurch has been damaged by human destructive power. My heart aches for the people who live in what I had regarded as one of the few still-idyllic places on earth in which to live.
Yesterday a minute’s silence, to remember New Zealand’s distress, was held before the Wales v Ireland match in Cardiff. New Zealand may be one of the most beautiful countries on earth and have the best rugby team in the world, but yesterday’s remembrance – accompanied by tears of torrential rain – was for its people: the families who have lost loved ones, the injured in hospital, the traumatised walking wounded. The silence at the Principality Stadium during that one minute was profound. It was followed by two hours of noisy jubilation as Wales powered to victory. Silence and noise bore testament to the contrasts of life – sorrow and joy, crying and laughter, indifference and compassion, lament and song, hatred and love. In the end we know what wins through.