By Daniel Yao
Image via Kate Gale
It’s an age-old question a lot of us with award-winning opinions still ask ourselves: does New Zealand really exist?
Let’s say for a hot second that New Zealand does in fact exist. I quite like that. I was born and raised in Auckland and at least from what I know Auckland is a city that’s in the north island of New Zealand. I have a New Zealand passport as well and own an All Blacks sweater which supposedly represents the New Zealand rugby team. I also punched ‘New Zealand’ into the Google Maps app on my phone and it showed me this funny shaped country labelled ‘New Zealand’. You must forgive me for thinking it’s a fact that New Zealand exists.
But so much for facts. In a world of alternative facts, I knew I had to do my own research. I was sitting in my room one day thinking about the existence of this so-called country and it slowly dawned on me that not only have I been told day in and day out for my entire life that the piece of land I happened to be standing on was called New Zealand, but everyone around me would also continually make the existence of the ‘country’ New Zealand a universally known and well-accepted fact. However, alternative facts mean logical fallacies and there were facts I knew in my own head I could not ignore: not the least of which that I had to eventually come to my senses, humble myself down and realise that I did not conquer New Zealand, nor did I name the piece of land New Zealand, ‘New Zealand’. I have not seen an aerial shot of New Zealand with my own two eyes, further fuelling speculation that I may as well be living in Africa for all I know. This is an uncomfortable thought and it’s enough to set anyone’s teeth on edge. Having a New Zealand passport does not necessarily mean that New Zealand exists. I am not sure if my passport is an actual passport or if it is a passport for a make-believe country. Sure, I have used the passport to get through immigration, but if that means the passport is real, then why do we have refugees and statelessness? How can asylum seekers and immigration officers co-exist?
I own a scrappy little blue book with the words ‘New Zealand Passport’ printed on it, but does that mean an entire country exists? Fact: No.
Surely, having ‘New Zealand’ on a map must show that it exists, as a map is a cornerstone reference for any geography student. However, the only fact this proves is that the creator of the map thinks a country called New Zealand exists. If I draw a piece of land on a bit of paper, it does not make that piece of land real, although that would be really cool. This makes it harder to prove whether or not New Zealand exists.
There are heaps of American sitcoms that have a globe or world map in the background or foreground – and more often than not New Zealand is not shown at all. There is just a blank space next to Australia (which I discovered many years ago is not a part of New Zealand. These are facts as New Zealand at this point may not exist). The world ‘Zealand’ also prompts a red squiggly line underneath the word processor I’m using, meaning that spell check thinks that New Zealand does not exist.
I would not be surprised if someone were to come out and confess that they are the leader of a secret society pretending that New Zealand exists, and that when they take people on a plane to New Zealand they are really taking them to Africa.
However, I like New Zealand. So let’s just say it does exist.