OPINION: So much for all those mayors, events, artworks and statues that we keep getting assured are putting us on the map.
We're clearly not there yet. Not reliably, anyway.
Air New Zealand has been using inflight cups depicting a map of New Zealand, minus Invercargill, which has been cropped from the bottom.
In ancient times, when the mapmakers reached the boundaries of their knowledge, or perhaps just interest, they identified the mysterious and threatening places farther out with symbols and legends, the most famous of which is "beyond here be dragons".
Sure enough, Invercargill's omission has been the cue for some firebreathing, or snorting anyway, from southerners.
Given that the airline services the city daily, it's curious that one of its more intrepid pilots didn't report back to head office, if only to announce the discovery of a southern civilisation. We can assume, can't we, that we'd meet that criterion?
For their part some southerners, unconvinced as they are about global warming, may regard these cups as part of the global propaganda conspiracy, sending subtle messages to sensitise us to the prospect of oceans claiming costal areas.
In fact, the cups are more historic than predictive. The airline says they are old stock, produced at a time when there was no flight from Wellington (the centre of the paper cup's world) to Invercargill.
Well we do now.
Disapproving of waste, as we do, we wouldn't for a moment suggest that the cups be discarded. Happily there's room on them for the missing section of southern coast to be drawn in - yes, laboriously, by hand - on each and every cup, and the name Invercargill written alongside it in somebody's best handwriting.
Bit of a chore, perhaps, but it doesn't seem too much to ask. A gesture of penance such as this would seem to be appropriate since the airline did not respond when we asked if it regarded Invercargill as important.
Strictly speaking, we should perhaps acknowledge that quite a lot of the northern tip of New Zealand is missing from the map, too, presumably for the same reason of a lack of service.
Kiwis don't appreciate it when their homeland is missing from maps of the world. Stewart Islanders have been known to kick up a reasonable ruckus when their home is not to be found on a souvenir teatowel. (Sorry, wall hanging).
As for the Chatham Islanders, or those met office guys on the Kermadecs, well hell.
Tasmania may have had a point when it went crook after being missing from a stylised map of South Australia, and Olympic medals, and posters for Baz Lurhman's movie epic Australia.
We have some sympathy, however, for Arnott's biscuit company which brought out the devil in Tasmanians for leaving the island off a box of Australia-shaped crackers. "We just didn't have any way of including it without causing an unacceptable level of breakage," a representative insisted.
Well, yes. It would be tricky for a single cracker, however carefully designed, not to turn Tassie into a peninsula. There might have been an option putting a second cracker for the same box, which would have to be either unsatisfyingly small or stupidly out of scale - and in any case might be seen as the sort of separatism that starts wars.
- The Southland Times
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