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"Why America? Because while America was once, perhaps, aspirational — it’s also falling into a kind of disrepair that’s hard to turn away from. The disparity in wealth, the rollback of abortion, the racism everywhere, my friend’s partner murdered walking the dog."

Hi David,

Am a retired 80-year-old history teacher. A hippie that got lost at the end of the 60s and ended up in Godzone. Have lived in NZ for half a century, thought it was heaven when I arrived. Got to use my quals, the natives were friendly and the climate temperate. Maybe not 'aspirational' but promising. Today I live in Auckland.

Have watched my adopted country fall into disrepair over the past few years. New rightwing gov't elected. Rollback of Te Reo, Maori subsidies, promise of liberalised gun legislation, and promised tax cuts for the uber-wealthy. Now a coalition of the inexperienced amateurs replacing the strategists and learned.

The disrepair in educational and health is common knowledge. The racial disparity in wealth striking. The coming of age of the Maori Renaissance seen in racial youth crime and growth of racial gangs.

All predictable 25 years ago when I worked in South Auckland. Marginalised racial group with an historical grievance.

Wrote every MP in the mid-90s saying you can't treat people this way and not anticipate consequences, the ugly kind. Response was form-letters with party political pamphlets asking me to vote for them. The noteable exception was Peter Tapsell, Speaker of the House, who responded with a six-page handwritten reply. Told me MPs got caught up in the process and were out of touch with what was happening on the ground.

You may be better off in the US?

Kind Regards,

Hugh Allan

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Oh Hugh, thanks for writing. I feel you. This comparison is lazy and maybe a bit stretched (and two very different humans with different track records) but having Jacinda felt a bit like what it felt like having Obama.

"Holy shit we've come a long way. This is something."

Felt like an inspiring time to be alive.

Then the next leader/s roll in and... holy shit. The racists crawl out of the cracks and you realise they're even *louder* now. Nothing had changed, they'd just gotten *angrier*.

In my month back here, I've had a few conversations with people (generally of a certain age group) who feel it's fine and sane to question things systemic racism again, and talk in disparaging ways about te reo Māori - BECAUSE OUR NEW LEADERS ARE BAITING KIWIS WITH THIS SHIT AND HOLY CRAP IT'S JUST LIKE AMERICA.

I dunno. Watching New Zealand follow America so quickly during the QAnon rabbit hole years ago made me think the two places aren't that far apart either (I wrote clunkily about that in 2022: https://www.webworm.co/p/freshideas?s=w)

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QAnon IMO simply extrapolated old conspiracy theories around the Illuminati, Grey Aliens or global Jewish financial fabrications.

Talk about revival of the Third Reich would only emphacise your observation about different humans and experience.😎

The perception is populism and demagoguery a la Kiwi style. History rhymes and human nature doesn’t change. What can be expected, unfortunately, is social chaos, aggravated economic contraction, (emergence of private borstals, prisons/security firms) and political polarisation along race lines.

Hope I am wrong. But lack of racial stability will discourage capital investment necessary for an infrastructure rebuild after covid.

New Zealand was generally secure as long as the US and China got along. Now that has changed. And we have more in common historically, politically and culturally with America.

Appreciate your feedback David Farrier.

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We’ve been here before. Check this out (again)(2008!). "Back on track" Mark 1! Familiar themes....Even some of the same people!

https://www.nzonscreen.com/title/the-hollow-men-2008?t=0s&fbclid=IwAR3mUzsrn18RzHlqEL59jsrVoU_qCmhvd5CJBuzom9aKWcehk2h3lyVEOgg

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Alister Barry is nothing short of inspirational (his Springbok tour footage was so revealing, the police wanted to get hold of it to ID protestors and charge them). And in consort with Nicky Hager just massively informative. That more people didn't see this doco is sad - so much could have been prevented. I guess we have Topham Guerin to thank for all the cr*p we're in now 😕

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

Appreciate your different perspective (from a born-and-bred never-left-these-shores-for-more-than-a-holiday Kiwi that is...) However, as bad as the 3-headed NACTFIRST monster is, it is still definately better in Aotearoa than America right now - I follow events there closely because I understand that if American democracy fails, it is REALLY bad news for the future of the world's other democracies, especially as it relates to the brakes it has on bad actors as to how far they will go. I agree with your concerns about racial issues here, it affects my extended whanau personally & directly, but I also have some hope because of the ""Kohanga kids" as someone put it. Those who are now adults who were schooled in Kohanga Reo from the beginning, are secure in their mana and not going to be cowed by the racists currently thinking they run the country. Those "leaders" are so out of touch that they don't realise how deep & permanent the adoption of Te Reo is, and cultural practices ingrained now in govt agencies etc. that I look forward to them finding out (wish I could be a fly on the wall with the karanga, mihi, haka etc. they will routinely encounter everywhere 😎) I also believe this upcoming generation are determined & capable of changing the prison statistics, wealth gap, health inequities etc. My observation of MANY older Maori is they were too polite and not assertive enough because of not having the confidence of education and/or training, (not ALL of course) and this coming generation is more assertive and is equipped with the tools to back it up and foot it when it comes to taking on the status quo. 🤷

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

Tino pono rawa ōu whakaaro e pā ana ki te reanga hou me te reanga kaumātua atu. Ngā mihi Cindy.

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

I love that Peter Tapsell took the time to do that, and to share what he saw/felt. I can see how it happens, and how laborious (excuse pun?!) it must be to push through anything meaningful in a timely manner, let alone for it to last as policy through successive governments long enough to show decent material effects (that goes for all sides of the house I imagine, but I weep for the socialist policies that never get a chance to work as they tend to focus on early childhood interventions and strategies, and thus don't produce enough "results" within an election timeframe to be meaningful for the skeptics). I'd find it soul-destroying and take my hat off to those that persevere - they're stronger, braver and more optimistic than I. I vote for them 'though, if that counts!

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Felicity, thanks for the feedback.

Am not optimistic for race relations in 2024. Anticipate upheavals in the urban ethnic centres, prisons and politicization of the gangs. Nor do I expect this alt-right Govt to last full term.

Agree with you that a long term, generational, commitment is necessary, emphasis on early childhood care and primary literacy/numeracy.

Unfortunately events in the northern hemisphere will probably dictate Gov’t budget priorities around our military.

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We live in south Auckland, 3 out of 4 of us in our household family are Pasifika, and what frightens me the most is the sense of legitimacy that is now given to overt racism thanks to Trumpism and those like him. What is also sad, 'though, is how the "blue collar" palagi have also been left behind in so many ways by so many governments - which I see and have empathy for - but they somehow seem to relate more to their FAR wealthier fair-skinned fellow citizens (farm owners (NOT workers, but the owners - VAST difference), property developers, bankers etc etc) with whom they have far less in common other than colour of their skin. They, like so many brown folk, work in lower paid/qualified roles and yet for reasons I don't understand they blame the brown folk for their (own and mutual) struggles rather than those with the power to change it but don't. Baffling.

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Organise, organise, organise.

Approach leaders of Greens and TPM, Labour for support around housing, jobs, education, health. Contact sympathetic journalists.

You’re forming a lobby!!! Invite sympathetic MPs to speak to you. Look for commitment not just from yourselves but approached MPs.

Organization!!!

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Join a union!!

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

Firstly...thrust...LOLOL! Immaturity aside, I was appalled anew reading that part about basically anyone dodgy being able to become POTUS, then thought of Nelson Mandela - he was a prisoner for 27 years and still became President of SA. I mean, thank God for that, obviously, but it's a tough one to argue in strict paper terms at first glance when I compare the two situations. They need to add one more restriction "Cannot be someone acknowledged to be an absolute cock by a large percentage of the world population, including many of those in the party he's trying to represent".

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I'd almost have more time for him if he's been incarcerated in his early life and came to the position of president with some sort of empathy and lived experience!

I think how Trump acted once in office - essentially using his position to profit and incite riots - is going to be blowing minds for generations to come.

Of course - if he's back it'll get to a whole new level of WTF. Which America seems very open to right now.

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Congrats on making it through. I've had to do the very fun visa process several times for several different countries and it's always nerve-wracking, even if things should all be fine. And, fingers crossed, I'll be doing this exact one the other way round in a few months as I'm currently finalizing proposals to do my phd in Auckland. If I make it, we can high five as we cross in the air. 💕

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Good luck with your petition! I have no doubt its just as nail biting as what I am going through, probably moreso!

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Thank you. If you want to put a kind word in for me on the AoNZ end, I'll tell America you're a good 'un 😉

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" I don’t have a fully formed reason about why I am living in America right now, besides some kind of deep-seated need to be close to places and things that feel slightly uneasy."

Reminds myself of this chap ...

If I'd lived in Roman times, I'd have lived in Rome. Where else? Today America is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself."

John Lennon

Be safe, dig away as a worm, walk dogs be with those irl friends.

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Oh, I love that quote. Had not read that before... or I had, and it just sank into my subconscious obviously!

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I forgot to add this one and it's pre A.I George ...

"When you're born into this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show. If you're born in America you get a front row seat."

George Carlin.

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Glad it’s all sorted. My family is doing the US ESTA thing so we can go see the total eclipse in the US this year. Way less stressful than a Visa.

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

Seeing a total eclipse would be 100% worth the travel. Caught the one in 2017 just before I left the US from a mountaintop in Jackson Wyoming. We had around 2-3 minutes of total darkness and it gives me shivers and an unstoppable grin now just thinking about it. Amazing experience.

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I saw the 2017 one on the Oregon coast, and the 2023 Annular in central Oregon. Going to Mazatlan in April for the total. We’re eclipse people now.

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“We’re eclipse people now” really just made my day. You sound like some awesome folks!

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Yeah, hard to believe the time is not that far away now. I have a high school friend of 40 years who lives in the US now and we're meeting up to see it together. If you've watched the NASA "From the Earth to the Moon" TV mini-series (which I recommend) episode 7 "It's All There Is" is my personal favourite episode - it's about how a good life is spending time forming shared memories with people you love.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_the_Earth_to_the_Moon_(miniseries)

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Possibly my favourite mini-series. I like how they told the Apollo 13 story from the ground as the movie had taken care of the rest. Great tip!

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You might as well fly halfway round the world to see an eclipse before the sun is blocked by constant cloud due to climate change due to people flying halfway round the world for frivolous reasons.

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I need to make sure I am in a good position to see this. Thanks for the reminder!

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Best chance of a perfectly clear sky for the Eclipse is New Mexico.

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

Congrats for getting the visa, always sad to see you leave! Can’t wait to hear / read / watch what crazy wormholes you’ll explore this year!!! 💞

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

I watched Mister Organ on YouTube a few weeks ago. I think it was $3.99. I accept your apology for using the word thrust, please don't do it again.

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Thru---

OK.

I'll stop.

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🤩🤩

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Chuckling

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11

The other day I heard about Dunbar's number. It's a theory that human beings are only capable of maintaining relationships with a maximum of 150 people at a time. Yet nowadays we're exposed to the opinions hundreds or even thousands of other people daily, as well as news and events from across the world. Maybe some of this chaos and uneasiness is because our brain isn't built to handle so much information at once. I don't know if there's a solution to this--it feels wrong to stick your head and the sand, but it also doesn't feel great being blasted by a firehose of raw information every day.

Safe travels David!

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

I think my max capacity is about 15 people 😆

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Totally. We're still meant to be in small, intimate tribes. Not whatever the heck this is we're living in!

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

Just read a great article about this

"Countless experiences that have become routine for us are unprecedented in the history of our species. Here's why that matters."

https://www.forkingpaths.co/p/we-are-different-from-all-other-humans?

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Man I wish we could do a doc on Trump showing just how terrible that guy is but it wouldn’t do any good. People flock to his awfulness like bloated, middle aged, beer gutted white men to a dumpster fire and support him because of his nastiness. They donate money they don’t have to his “campaign” which is really going to his legal bills, and they call him a god the media persecutes out of hatred not because he’s done anything wrong. I really hope the future of the USA in two to three hundred years doesn’t consist of Trumpism as a religion, but it sure seems it’s going in that direction. You’re right. This country is on its way down, but I still stick around and I even work for the same government, in immigration actually, because how can I change anything if I’m not here to do my small part to fight the system that goes against anyone who isn’t a straight white man? So, here I am, with you, also anxious and a little depressed and thank goodness for you. I feel like I have the great privilege of knowing you want to be here too. Even if we “Americans” are all fucked up trying to give away our country to fascists. There are people out there who don’t have to be here but are here trying to help us fight the good fight and hopefully their willingness to be here, despite all the obvious flaws, means that we do not end up giving our country away to dictators this November 5th.

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

re 'I wish we could do a doc on Trump showing just how terrible that guy is'

The opening scenes of the superb documentary 'Merkel' do just that and are part of the trailer. Her story is as inspiring as his is depressing.

https://youtu.be/v2Acl0hy_Bo?si=R7q19W_rKFTbJ9bU

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I will have to look at that! Thank you!

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Congratulations on the visa. And I feel you on the waking up with anxiety. This year I’m committed to mental health and taking care of myself. Any tricks for helping push through?

Thrust goes in that same category as moist and slather.

My girlfriend and I are going to London to see a hard rock/metal band do a reunion show, and this is my first time flying out of country. I’m worried will people there think her and I are like the crazy Trump folks? Our country is on a fast track to a dissolved democracy, and I have been worried sick that we will be shunned when they hear our thick, southern US accents. Though hopefully, it’s just pointless anxiety.

And I can’t help but think of Phish playing a run in April at the Sphere. A FB on Phish, jam bands and 420 culture could be something?, ( one of the dates for the show run is 4/20 ). I mean, just picture the country up in arms and fighting while “ Down With Disease “ is blasting in The Sphere. It’s going to smell like ganja, patchouli and other essential oils in that place.

Mister Organ is another fine piece of genius as well. It’s a blessing to have you in this life and to be able to see your work.

Cheers and safe travels!

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Oh wow, Phish is moving into the Sphere? I had no idea. I still need to listen to a Phish song, or attend a Phish show. It'd be a good Flightless Bird.

As for London - l reckon as long as you're not wearing a Trump hat, or talking too loudly - they'll like you just fine. Americans still given the thumbs up in general - and I think people like meeting the good ones. You're gonna have an absolute blast.

As for managing anxiety - I wish I had some fixes. Really it comes down to not letting yourself spiral (stopping the brain, somehow), and plenty of exercise. But yeah, it's always buzzing around like an annoying lil' friend.

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Here is a song that was always one of my favorite. https://youtu.be/rvOJ59CIkdg?si=TfhvCHnnr7TbvExa

Phish shows are fun. It’s a lot of dancing and awesome light shows. And now that Trey is sober, they have been killing it a lot more in terms of playing tight and meshing well together. Tickets are sold out for The Sphere run. https://phish.com/tours/sphere-2024/

Thanks for the kind words. I’m going to just enjoy the sites, the food and hopefully see my family while there. And it’s going to be great to see a metal show!

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

A FB on phish might, just maybe, get me back to the US to act a tour guide/interpreter. As much as I would have loved to have been there for the NYE run, I wouldn't trade my life down here to make it happen. Have fun in London. I wouldn't worry too much about the Southern accent over there. In my experience Kiwis and Brits have a hard time distinguishing between regional American/Canadian dialects. Much like Americans have a harder time distinguishing between British, Australian, South African and NZ accents, at least this American did when I first landed in NZ 6 years ago.

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Not going to lie, The Sphere is going to be a great run. And it did my heart well to see Phish playing it. They have always been committed to Vegas.

David could use you as a guide. The culture, the lot, what drugs might someone be on, the running to the gate, and in the rare occurrence, teaching him the Meatstick dance. You would be perfect for this.

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

Sounds perfect. I could tell him page side rage side is the best place to be, that yes those really are trampolines during YEM, Harry hood usually comes with a glow stick war and all sorts of other tidbits gleaned from 60+ shows. I just love that band. David if you ever want to dive (or tiptoe) into the jam band scene I hereby offer my services as a tour guide. 😎

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I remember seeing them at the Mothership at Hampton during the hiatus run, and they busted out the funkiest David Bowie I have ever heard. Glow sticks were flying!

He needs this experience. The vacuum solo from Fishman, a little salsa break during Punch You In The Eye, some Timber. Or Fee since he loves animals and he can start with the Gamehenge lore. David, do it! Allison has your back!

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Okay. I guess I need to go see Phish at the Sphere. Noted.

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You will be fine abroad with your southern accent. Just dont wear a red hat. We get plenty of Americans travelling through NZ, and from my experience the awful nasty ones dont seem to travel from their comfort zones.

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That much is true. I have family in England who I want to meet while over there, and metal heads usually are a big family.

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Fightstar, yeah? \m/

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You know it! Such a huge fan of Fightstar and of Alex and Dans other project Gunship. Never got into Busted, but Charlie is great! Are you going as well?

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Not from New Zealand..... I am a filthy casual.

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

Glad you got some sun and sea and dogs into your system before you return the the States. I understand why you want to be there, but the mere idea of the US is enough to give me anxiety these days. Stay safe, stay sane, keep fighting the good fight.

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Thanks, Rowan. Aim to do all those things: Safe, sane, fighting.

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David, I love your work and whole approach to life and living. Thank you for being alive and kicking.

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Same to you, Barbara. Thanks! Here's to 2024.

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

Reading this from a North Shore beach as I squeeze in my last swim before getting on a plane back to the US tonight, it reminds me why I’m so glad to be moving back to New Zealand for good later this year! I’m done with the chaos and will be very happy to be watching the 2024 election from afar, but I’m glad you’re braving the chaos to report back to us!

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Oh, you're done with it! Fair. You know when you know. Enjoy that flight, and see you back in NZ one day when we both line up at a beach here in 2037!

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I have a three year fixed term role, so we were always heading home this year, and there’s no way I could convince Evan to stay! But I’m pretty happy to be coming home too.

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Jan 11·edited Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

Welcome back to the shit show we call America! I feel I am going to spend most of 2024 dreading this upcoming election. Glad you had a nice time in New Zealand with family and friends... But we are happy to have you back :)

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We can dread it together :)

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

Congrats on your visa approval! I remember going through a similar process trying to get a visa in the UK years ago. Stressful, intimidating and slightly traumatic are the words I would use to describe it (and I was married to a Kiwi with a British passport!).

Safe travels back to the USA. I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us in 2024!

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Jan 11Liked by David Farrier

Congrats on making it in and out of mini America with a Visa. One thing American bureaucracies love is a good long line that snakes around and around and around. As a recipient of a Visa, and now residency, the other way around, you Kiwis make the process fairly smooth and simple. A few documents to upload, pay a fee, wait around for an officer to be assigned to your application, a few phone calls to clarify some details, and then voila - a residency visa that lets me stay and work indefinitely. And nary a long line in sight.

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YES! Americans love a line. Even at a coffee shop. Outside a store. It's insanity. And probably a Flightless Bird topic.

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