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NEW NEIGHBOURS 28/11/19

'Buenos dias', 'comos estas' is Spanish greetings from my translator app, one of the few languages spoken in the neighbourhood. At 0500 hrs, the neighbours are up and around, walking and jogging the safety of a restricted area. Their age ranges from as young as ten year olds to fifty may be more and from different nationalities.

I've just opened the laundry and went past a couple of security guards who were addressing me as if I am an important person. I smiled back and gave them compliments in return.

While trying to remain objective, I cannot help but wonder beyond the face of the people to their original homes and what were the circumstances that led them to seek refuge in Aotearoa New Zealand.

But the moment has brought home to me how lucky I am to be in the best place in the world. Well, I like to think I'm Kiwi after forty odd years of survival in our own lower socio economic neighbourhood. My favourite term of the standards is 'trying to make ends meet on the margin'.

If you're male and Pacific, you are already struggling. And if you have a criminal record for whatever reason, then you are descended down the bottom of the heap. You know, you are deprived from employment and social services including housing and healthcare. And this is where the fork on the road determines the direction of your survival. You are now alone on your destination.

With a bit of cultural upbringing and belief, I am blessed with experience of breaking away from culture and trying to make it in foreign land amidst protocols and expectations of a predominant race.

All your working life is a struggle to survive on half a life. You are not going to be rich and beautiful but while you are poor and criminal, you are still beautiful. Well, if you look back, you probably have nothing to show as you are isolated from your culture, your relatives and friends.

It's kind a hard to understand why, but that's what the media and society do to ya. They have a perspective of a type of person you are that complies to the status quo and local mold. It is not the kind of person who you know of yourself, but your perceived self is maintained by imposed social conditions that appeal to your psyche.

At 0600 hours, the relieving guard is on site and handover is already briefed.

At 0700 hours, residents start entering the office for access to restricted areas. But the reality is that these folks are not locked up in a barricaded area, rather the fence is to protect them from intruders especially after Christchurch 15th incident.

That is why your job is special to deal with social needs, but at the same time maintain health and safety as priority. The biggest threat these folks face is from political motivated activists from right wing nationalists. Social awareness is an intelligence undertaking hoping to connect the missing pieces of an underground operation. And a major task for a security officer is to be vigilant for unusual presence and activities.

The new neighbours bring fresh and raw experience of various cultures. You try to talk to someone but they turn around and look at the sky, others just look at you as if you are not there.

There are implicit reasons and cultural protocols why gender is a barrier, but language may have nothing to do with it. So you know the communication remains true to what's happening now. You can feel the presence of grace in the air of the surrounding when people are free to enjoy the moment. Under the shadow of the unknown, it's a pleasant find to see someone smiling.

You are there to help when a need arrives including transport to the clinic, or organising leisure times for the children. And that's what makes the day, the children no matter where they are, they are true to life and innocent to a brand new world.

I know some new neighbours have already made their mark in society, its inspiration not only for others but also for our local hood.

I think that some residents have the advantage of a wider metropolitan background compared to our isolation down under. You see, they've only been here yesterday and yet already in front of the queue on human rights and what have you.

Meantime our local hood is just cruising. Well, it doesn't matter how hard you try to do the right thing, you are still a crim trying to make ends meet on the margin. The social engineering, guilt imposition, stereotypes along with deprivation from services and resources makes it a lot easier to fall. There is no vision to look forward to for personal improvements and success, all you hear about your lot is all dark. And the social consequences show this.

We need social inspirations enabling us to look forward and not the usual impositions that lock our vision in the past as we try to go forward. Someone was saying its going forward in reverse!

We are the best consumers in the world that has made us easy targets of cowboy business as we live in debts of desires. And this is reinforced by our moderate temperament that seems cruising. And whatever the market determines, we seem to follow in trends quantified by social consequences; crime, violence and illness.

Pacific women are taking up the challenge to try and improve the standards. But you know, they have to find a political voice. We are over represented in maintaining the consumer class enduring ailments and social ills. And our new neighbours have perhaps shown us the missing piece.

The destination has to be better than now and in the past. But while we endure social punishments and deprivation, our neighbours are helped to establish in society. And some have taken the opportunity to achieve their goals. They make better kiwis of the future.


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