Only in New Zealand

Sarah Candler
Sarah Candler

Whingeing Pom is written by Sarah Candler, who came to New Zealand from Britain and has lived without complaining too much in West Auckland for about ten years. A typically British dark sense of humour combined with a love of writing and of the art of complaining lead to the Whingeing Pom column .

As much as I love a good whinge, this is more of an amble down memory lane. Well, down Avondale's main street actually. I reminisce about a quaintly 'only in NZ' moment inspired by the coming general election.

In November 2008 on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I was bimbling around Avondale when I saw parked on the street a rather humble- looking caravan. It had seen better days and was an unfortunate 80's beige colour reminiscent of Uncle Dwayne's stubbies, with a sign on the side saying 'Helen Clark.' (The caravan, not the stubbies.)

I presumed this was Helen Clark Discount Fruit 'n' Veg or Helen Clark Mobile Fishmonger as the concept of the Prime Minister hanging out in Avondale in a dodgy beige caravan seemed highly unlikely, but then I'm not from around here.

Not only was it indeed the PM but she and her entourage seemed determined to interact with us; a  perturbing thing for a Pom more familiar with the concept of being carted off to Holloway in a Black Maria if one so much as sneezed in close proximity to Downing Street, let alone attempt to converse with the mighty one.

"Would you like to meet the Prime Minister?" her assistant asked.

"Sorry we're busy shopping for cucumbers, we're making tzatziki today," I mumbled apologetically, but to no avail. They cornered us and we found ourselves shaking hands and swapping niceties with Helen Clark.

"Did we have any questions?" Hell yes! I jumped upon the chance to say something just a tad derogatory about Winston Peters....(one must grab life's opportunities,) and that was that, back to the cucumbers.

I was actually very pleased to have met this particular Prime Minister, albeit a bit surreal, ("Mum, I shook hands with the Prime Minister today when we were out vege shopping!") Pleased and amused at the unpretentiousness of meeting one's leader in such unlikely and humble circumstances. How quaint. How very NZ.