Mele Beach

Why this eternal return
to islands, and beaches
where everything written
is washed away?

Pinching myself hard on the thigh
I tread water, and gaze—unbelieving
across the gently heaving waves, to a palm-fringed beach
where a solitary child, white school shirt unbuttoned
flapping in the sun—runs home across the sand
over the fallen tree, up the road to Mele village

A frigate bird screeches, swooping
for a fish, thrown high from the hand
and a bright red bucket—to my delight
riding for hours—an endless tide of gifts
rising—falling—rising again, wrinkling my fingertips
sending me back to my towel and jandals

Touring Aotearoa in Flight: Part 2

100% Middle Class

Auckland to Melbourne: NZ721

Leaving home—returning home

the in-flight magazine sings a cheery “Kia Ora”

and in its glossy pages not a fantastic tripling

just one, simple version of Aotearoa/New Zealand:

100% Middle Class

On the cover, a hand-illustrated map of New Zealand points to local restaurants, street eateries and chefs. An easygoing fantasy of 100% comfortable, 100% cosmopolitan, 100% carefree affluence. Drifting through the snappy prose of cheery feature articles, we tour London craft breweries, South Sea pearl farming in Broome, we absently consider the righteously aesthetic parsimony of Japanese-inspired “tiny homes” and repurposed native wood furniture, and of course sample an endless stream of fashion accessories and gourmet delights.

No mention of elves, rangers or Hobbiton here—the theme of fantasy Impirialism is both more explicit, and less fantastic. Like many other Pacific “destinations”—most notably, in my experience, Vanuatu—here the pitch of tourism blends with real estate prospecting.

one example—a full-page ad for a rural development in Queenstown—offers

“stunning panoramic views”

and

“ultimate lifestyle experiences”

Echoes of the eighteenth century “Brighter Britain of the South”, to be sure, but this land grab is presumably pitched at affluent New Zealanders as much as foreign tourists and other prospective “settlers”:

“Create your dream lifestyle at Bendemer”

“Our range of house and land packages start from $1.8 million”.

And in the pages of “Kia Ora” its not just picturesque pockets of Aotearoa that are for sale, but the palm-fringed fantasy beachscapes of other Pacific locations as well. Another prominently placed full-page ad sells Nanuku resort:

“On 500 acres of Fiji’s most desirable beach, the properties at Nanuku Ocean Estates offer a Sanctury for the discriminating few”.

The dreams of resort tourism offered as everyday lived reality:

“Here is your opportunity to create a very private waterfront residence, where an idyllic lifestyle is enhanced by the services and amenities of Fiji’s preeminent luxury resort and spa. Homesites from $600,000 USD”.

So I finish my tour of in-flight tourism literature, and we begin our collective descent. The familiar stretch of Victoria’s Eastern coastline creeps into view, and I return as a tourist to my own 100% Middle Class paradise.

drovers’ hut, Mamaku Ranges

Drovers Hut - Mamaku Ranges

State Highway 5

just off the roadside

on a gentle rise of hill

watching over the traffic

abandoned now—empty and gathering moss

while the wires above

and the road below

clamour on with the incessant buzz of humanity

but not very long ago

its own once upon a time

of sweat and mud

smoke in the chimney

spring lambs and winter catastrophes

old jokes

warm cups of tea

and shelter

Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity