Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New Zealand : Paradise Squandered ?

New Zealand: Paradise Squandered?
Reflections on what we’ve lost and where we’re headed
John Hawkes
Published by John Hawkes, 3 April 2017
Distributed by The Copy Press; RRP: $39.99

New Zealand used to have it all: affordable housing; affordable healthcare; free education. Now, they’re all under threat. This begs the question: Have we squandered our paradise potential?

Politically, economically and socially, New Zealand appears to be at a cross-roads. Now, in an election year, voters have an opportunity to help decide how best to shape – and future-proof – our nation. In recent years, our standard of living has dropped significantly compared to most other OECD countries and the divide between rich and poor has grown. Further, the country appears to have ‘sold out’ to foreign interests and embraced the free market at the expense of an enlightened liberal democracy.

New Zealand: Paradise Squandered? is a wake-up call for all New Zealanders, put forth by fourth-generation New Zealander John Hawkes, who views our culture as a major problem and one that is damaging our economy. “We’re beset with a quarrelsome individualism and disconnectedness”, says Hawkes; a throw-back to colonial days, and an over-zealous central government that disempowers our communities.

Hawkes calls for greater collegiality and cohesion in New Zealand society, and sees scientists, engineers and mathematicians as fundamental to our future prosperity. For answers, he looks to Norway, Denmark and Finland, with their similar populations to New Zealand, whose people have created wealth by investing in education, R&D, innovation and social policies that benefit most citizens. These nations have also transformed from primary producers into technologically advanced nations, with GDPs to match.

Hawkes outlines how New Zealand can keep pace with these countries. We need to break the prevailing mentality that investing in property is paramount. It means our high-tech and intellectual capital entrepreneurs are starved of start-up capital and money for research and development, innovation and marketing. We need to invest much more in these sectors. Otherwise our top-class scientists, engineers, mathematicians, technicians, and high-quality, tertiary-educated graduates will find more rewarding jobs overseas. “Not taking these key actions will continue to reduce our capacity to grow our economy and prosper,” says Hawkes.

John Hawkes is alarmed by our apparent complacency and widespread political apathy, and by the social decline due mainly to the longstanding domination of the free market. He celebrates the lives of successful New Zealanders in his book. Most have had a positive impact on the world stage in far-ranging fields from entrepreneurship to medicine and sport. Hawkes credits many of these New Zealanders in his text, chapter notes and bibliography.
New Zealand: Paradise Squandered? represents more than 30 years of meticulous reading, research and profound thinking. It is mandatory reading for every New Zealander.

John Hawkes was born and educated in Christchurch. A keen sportsperson and competitive athlete, Hawkes won the New Zealand 440 yards hurdles title and broke the New Zealand decathlon record in 1956. He graduated from the Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, in 1959. After that, he was a medical intern at the American Hospital of Paris. In Paris, he met and married Olga Vladimirovna Rossi, a trilingual White Russian refugee born in Shanghai. He completed his four-year postgraduate training in rheumatology in England, before setting up practice in Auckland. Seven years later, Hawkes returned to England where, for 25 years, he was the sole consultant rheumatologist at Bedford Hospital in the home county of Bedfordshire. Besides working with helpful colleagues, he gained a revealing insight into trade, industry and finance. Hawkes attributes his knowledge of many non-speaking English cultures, customs and religions to his most-supportive wife Olga. Hawkes retired in 1999 and settled in Christchurch with Olga in 2002. The earthquakes in Canterbury saw them return to Auckland in 2011.

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