Thursday, 24 November 2011

overthrowing the government

In the morning (well, it's already the morning, so technically I suppose I should say 'In a few hours') I will be boarding a train for Ottawa.

I'm off to cast my vote.

Yes, there are plenty of other ways I could cast my vote while I'm overseas - I could post, fax or courier it no problem. But for some reason I really want to be there and put the vote in the ballot box. Plus I've heard the train trip to Ottawa from Toronto is amazing.

I posted about this on facebook today, and a lot of people responded to what I said. The more I thought about it, the more pleased I was that I've decided to go and vote in person.

Because voting - not just who I vote for but where I vote - says a lot about me. It's yet another genealogy (a 'genealogy of experience' as my amazing friend Aroha Harris might call it) which makes me who I am. And explains me to myself. Oh and explains me to others. So here goes:

Last election i voted at my own marae, Waiwhetu. Megan and I went, and we took Matiu with us. That evening, the three of us went to our cousin Daniel's place and had an 'election party' where we made food in the theme of the parties we'd voted for (red meat for Labour, hummus and veges with wholemeal pita for Green, a chocolate cake with a Maori flag on the top made from red & black icing and slivered almonds) and played election-nite themed drinking games as we watched the coverage. I made coalition jellies for dessert, and we used teaspoons to scoop red, green and dark red layers of jelly from little glasses. The drinking games were fun, but they were also handy: we were pleased to have the blow softened a little when the outcome was announced.

I voted at an intermediate school up the road from my grandparents' place in Napier on a very hot day. They'd already cast special votes because Nana wasn't so mobile by then, and off I drove to find a place I could, you know, have my say. My grandparents were deeply committed to voting as a right and a privilege, and I am sure it would be unimaginable to them that any of us would vote for anything but Labour. (Actually, I've often voted a further left than Labour - but that's because I think Labour can forget who they are sometimes and get too cosy to the centre.) We have buried both Nana and Grandad since then.

Although I was living in the States at the time, I voted at NZ House in London. Because of the way that empire works, yes, even in 2002, it was cheaper for me to get a flight home to NZ from Ithaca (NY) by buying a separate ticket to London and then a ticket from London to NZ. Yep, even though one of the London-to-NZ itinerary options was to fly back to NY on my way to NZ. Bizarre but true. So, I decided to stop off on the way home and have a look around and catch up with a couple of mates in London, and cast my vote at NZ House feeling (to be honest) a bitt like one of the rabble. Those of us NZers who'd decided to live in the US or wherever else sometimes felt that living in the UK was a bit, um, obvious... so being just one of the 'Kiwis' voting in London was interesting but also one of those strange experiences where you want to yell out 'I'm not like everyone else!' even as you know that, in fact, you probably are. 

1999/ 1996
I can't remember where I was in 99 and 96! One of them was at a school in Sandringham, in Auckland, because I lived at a student flat nearby - but that could have been either year! And I have a memory of watching the elections one nite at my auntie's house in Hastings, although it's possible that was before I was old enough to vote. Hmmm... the 90s... a bit of a mush...

... and for my first election I was still in high school - a seventh former, now an extinct species - and I went with my Dad to Glenbrae School, a primary school in my home neighbourhood of GI in Auckland.

Taking the opportunity to overthrow the government this year? Absolutely. I refuse to accept we have to resign ourselves to more of the same... so, next time I blog I will have exercised my democratic right and cast my vote. Fingers crossed.

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