Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Passionless People

Much has been made during this wonderful month of autumn internationals about the passion of the UK crowds.

The mainstream media in New Zealand seem even more confounded this time around by the vocal northern hemsiphere rugby supporters and to prove it, there's been a flurry of rugby articles written to back this up, marvelling at the 'spontaneous eruptions' of the celt crowds.

The most recent of these naval gazing articles is from Gregor Paul in the NZ Herald. Apparently "Home Nations and France see the expression of their nationalism as almost being more important than the result." Also, Mr Paul believes that "It is the followers of the All Blacks who lack emotional depth and the inability to see a test as more than just 80 minutes of rugby."

Well Mr Paul. Speak for yourself. I think I have quite a lot of emotional depth thank you very much, and I believe All Black supporters and New Zealanders for that matter are no less passionate than any race on this planet. However, there is a simple fact why we do appear so and I'm just surprised that 'esteemed' rugby hacks are pondering this still and wasting column inches of space.

New Zealanders don't sing. It is a sad, horrible fact about this country and as a result we look right uptight for it, especially when we're in direct comparison with an amped Welsh rendition of Bread of Heaven. You just have to watch the All Blacks sing the anthem. You're normally lucky to get a lip movement.

Why don't we sing? I can never work it out as I'm a singer and I know scores of beautiful singers from this country plying their trade in the opera houses of Europe and North America.

I have a theory that New Zealanders have lost the ability to feel confident about singing over the years. I don't know what has caused this but I believe it after being privledged to meet a group of former All Blacks at the New Plymouth test this year where the case was illustrated to me.

I was the anthem singer for that match and Dave Loveridge and co beforehand asked if I would sing the national anthem for them in their dressing room. There was a group of about twenty - baby boomer age and up and after I started the 'god of nations', to my wonderful suprise, they all joined in.

It was wonderful to see these former All Blacks greats singing along with gusto and without self-consciousness. It made me think how today's All Blacks would never join in such a rousing chorus. A spontaneous haka maybe, but can you imagine them singing for the fun of it, in front of other people?

So we've lost our ability to sing when we're sober in this country. But I don't think it means we're less passionate however or that we're emotionally retarded compared to the Irish, Scottish and Welsh.

For whatever reason Mr Paul, we're just quieter, but even still rivers can run just as deep. So please don't label me because it is not our culture to sing out. Label yourself maybe, just leave me out of it.

Ps - as a side note there has been the odd All Black in recent times who has gloriously thrown the dour stereotype out the window. Byron Kelleher was so passionate, in haka, anthem and just general demeanour that I remember once he even tore a muscle doing warm-ups. And Richard Kahui is another that doesn't seem to be afraid to sing like there's no-one listening.


Naly D said...

I think we don't sing 'cause all our good singers get poached by Aussie.

Dragon, Split Enz, Russell Crowe... Wait forget the last one.

On the subject though, how good was Geoff Sewell before the league?!

Nursedude said...

I'll take a pre-match Haka over "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" anyday.

BTW, thanks to You Tube, I found your vocal performance before the Samoa game. You got pipes!