I made it into the local news!
From the Havelock and Sounds Community Anglican Messenger Church Family Newsletter, December 2009-January 2010 (No. 7):
“Many things go on in a woolshed… shearing, pregnancy testing, foot rot treating, dances, weddings, farmers’ meetings, farewell parties, and at long last for one particular shed… a Church Service.
Paul and Muff Newton’s shed was clean and polished after a wedding a few weeks ago, and last weekend (31st Nov.) we wheeled in chairs, band equipment including drums, two guitars and a good old linen sheet for a screen, two wine barrels and a 100mm slice off a big tree for a table, the data projector, a brass Cross for a bit of symbolism, and we had ourselves a rustic service with about 55 people including a few little ones.
The vicar and Jenny did a skit about a student named Einstein arguing a few points along the lines of Evolution and Creation with the teacher during a science class. Unfortunately one member of the congregation was having an argument of his own with blood pressure pills, and caused some consternation by fainting. Thankfully he recovered enough to get home and was fine a little later.
The band rolled out song after song, with the guest performer Scott from Texas helping on the extra guitar, and the usual coffee break and social hour preceded a few brave souls dipping more than their toes in the river.
Thank you to Hamish and Annie, John and Scott for playing for us, and thank you Paul and Muff for the great venue. Can we do that again sometime soon…?”
This gives a good representation of rural NZ culture. The primary concerns of folks out here are family rituals (weddings, farewell parties, etc.), obstacles faced in farming (animal disease, etc.) and the defense of their values and faith in the face of an encroaching secularism, scientism, and globalization (most importantly, that controversial offshoot of globalization, immigration).
Not much is different here to rural America–though I may venture to say that communities are stronger by virtue of the fact that these folks believe they live in the most beautiful part of the world. There’s little of the mindset which says, “I’m gonna get outta this one-horse town and make a name for myself in the big city.” People mostly look down on the city and city life as inferior to country life, and I think this–combined with the relative absence of industrialization a–has preserved communities in rural NZ.
When I spoke of this to Lisa, one of my hosts, her thoughts were that since the pioneer mentality was still fresh in NZ’s cultural memory, folks still know that they ought to appreciate the piece of Earth their grandparents sailed exactly halfway across the globe to carve out.
Perhaps our “unsettlement” is a crisis in memory failure.