Opinion: 'Unruly' tourists truly revived New Zealand's sense of purpose

Opinion 30/01/2019

By Sean Plunket, Magic Afternoons host

OPINION: According to media reports, the "unruly" family of British tourists have left the building. I’m going to miss them, just a little bit.

They have provided outstanding entertainment, from their first appearance trashing an Auckland beach when their bad parenting poster-boy threatened to punch out a lady filming them to their trashing of a suburban Wellington motel.

Whether it be having the temerity to walk through a Burger King drive-thru or flip the bird at media, they have given us all a wonderful diversion from the problems of climate change, housing affordability, our growing plastic mountain and the evils of the tyrannical male patriarchy.

We’ve been united in our condemnation of their amoral behaviour, banding together through social and mainstream media to track their trail of destruction and speculate on where they might be headed next.

This was better than a mass whale stranding because you didn’t need a wet suit to feel like you were taking part.

Back in the 80s and 90s, myself and other Fair Go reporters regularly investigated similar groups of “gypsy” roof painters, ashphelters, and labourers.  We’d spend weeks tracking them and gathering evidence of their cons before exposing them on TV to a grateful and outraged nation.

But that was last century and in hindsight, rather quaint and ineffectual.

In 2019, the internet allowed us all to become Fair Go sleuths and collectively hound this group of terror tourists 24/7 across the entire nation.

We all felt we were doing our bit to keep New Zealand clean and green and safe from people we all agreed we hated and didn’t want here. 

It didn’t matter if they were from Ireland or England or Liverpool or Birmingham. We weren’t going to put up with them and they had to go.

This was better than a mass whale stranding because you didn’t need a wet suit or instructions from a DOC ranger to feel like you were taking part.

We managed to keep the shrine of Hobbiton safe from their evil influence and forced them to “hide in the mountains” North of Wellington for two days.

In return they’ve given us a sense of national purpose, educated us in the subtle differences between gypsies, tinkers, travellers, pikies, and garden variety sociopaths.  They’ve entertained us by giving media, who’d otherwise be writing boring stories about happy holidaymakers, some whizz bang copy and a breaking news narrative that just kept giving.

It was probably time to for them to go. Most of us are back at work or school, the Black Caps are losing again, and we’ve got a heat wave (doubtlessly caused by global warming) to occupy us.

New scandals and outrages will trend on twitter and get our blood boiling and eventually the great unruly tourist hunt of 2019 will be just another footnote in history.  People in retirement homes will wistfully recall being there when they trashed Takapuna beach or dropped their toast on the pavement in Hamilton and one day, and perhaps NZ on Air will even fund a historical documentary.

But if, like me, you’re going to miss the rag tag bag of chaos-causing narcissistic con artists, oblivious to the damage they do and the hurt they inflict, then you can take some small comfort in the fact that Jami-Lee Ross seems determined to stay on as the taxpayer-funded independent MP for Botany.

Sean Plunket is host of Magic Afternoons, weekdays from midday to 3pm.