In a year characterised by rising costs, political uncertainty at home and geopolitical upheaval abroad, it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate what we have.
In New Zealand, and closer to home in Wairarapa, many things are still going well, even though in recent times much has changed.
I’m sure in the future, plenty will be written about the impact of covid here and elsewhere; how life was before and after, the changes wrought, the certainties shifted, and the lives impacted [many sadly lost]. It’s almost certainly a time today’s children will tell their children and grandchildren about.
Right now, the biggest lingering non-health impact for most people is the rising cost of living.
This year, we have seen people in the region using food banks in record numbers. We have seen nurses, teachers, and even senior doctors take industrial action for higher pay and better working conditions. There have been reports some healthcare workers themselves have now become part of the working poor and are using food banks to help shore up decreasing earning power. It is beyond doubt food banks across Wairarapa are now helping those with regular jobs and the unemployed or underemployed.
Along with sky-high food costs has been the cost of fuel. My own little car now costs about 100 dollars to fill up. Two years ago, the same car only cost 60.
The ongoing war in Gaza and recent attacks on shipping in that region could soon re-ignite debate about supply chains, and the cost of using longer transport routes that avoid trouble spots. Unless this issue is resolved soon, the price of imported goods into New Zealand from Europe [and exports there] could rise.
At the same time, there is much to be grateful for. I was fortunate recently to attend the blessing of the Joy Cowley playground in Featherston, where the celebrated and inspirational children’s author spoke to the hundreds who attended. Despite facing her own challenges, Cowley spoke about how she appreciated the playground which bears her name and the Featherston community she has been part of for the past 20 years.
“My heart is full. I don’t have words big enough to tell you how I feel,” she said.
She told the gathering the child within her would remain in the Featherston playground.
The playgrounds of Wairarapa, and of New Zealand, are one of the many easy-to-access things we mostly take for granted. Along with wide open sports spaces, parks, green belts and beaches, children’s playgrounds are fun, healthy and, best of all – free to use.
Across Wairarapa, there are also council-run swimming pools, with on-site lifeguards and often other lovely facilities for children and their families to enjoy in the summer holidays.
We shouldn’t forget the libraries, with dedicated staff, often with holiday activities. And finally, the massively underrated but hugely rewarding walking opportunities right across the region. From Mt Holdsworth to the local park, this is an activity for almost everyone.
So, on that note, I wish everyone a safe, happy and healthy New Year and holiday period. There is much to enjoy and look forward to.