OPINION: The passing of John Clarke, aka Fred Dagg, has signalled an end of an era. So did the recent loss of a great Manawatu man Murray Ball, who brought us the Footrot Flats entertainment.
These two icons made farming fun and entertaining, but probably more importantly, they also brought culture and a sense of identity to all Kiwis. The black singlet and gumboots will, I’m sure, always be a respected iconic treasure for New Zealand.
For me, I think Murray Ball helped bring us in NZ all a little bit closer. Not only did he capture the comedy of farm life, but he gave us a brand that people could really relate to. You may have been a fan of Wal, Coach or Cheeky, or perhaps Dog’s ongoing sense of playfulness won you over.
Whoever it was, there was a little bit of something for everyone. What a treat to have it shown again on our television screens recently. I’m sure a few Kiwi families took the time to hit the record button, to replay the antics of the Footrot Flats crew and cheer us up on rainy days.
*Gap between town and country growing
*Truth-twisting anti-farming tactics concern farmers
When I think of Fred Dagg its the songs for me that stand out. I will always have fond memories of watching my kids in concerts over the years, singing the tune “if it weren’t for your gumboots where would you be” in their gumboots and black singlets with the whole crowd clapping along. A true feeling of Kiwi pride certainly washes over you, and bugger if you can get the song out of your head for the rest of the day.
The other song “we don’t know how lucky we are” is one that I’m sure rings true to many of us. It’s hard to stay in a negative mind set with these words running through your head, particularly helpful for me when the frustrations of farming really test you.
We all know about the grand landscapes that we live in, the sunrises and sunsets, the beauty of our natural environment and the fun we have from recreation activities in nature’s big playground.
I also look around our community and think how lucky we are we don’t have some of the threats and challenges that are going on around the globe. On a trip to South East Asia a few years back, looking at the rivers and water quality, Mr Dagg’s words did certainly capture how I was feeling.
But it’s not just me, in my black singlet and gumboots, who thinks New Zealand is the best place in the world. The latest Annual Global Prosperity Index, which ranks the most prosperous countries in the world, gave New Zealand two thumbs up.
New Zealand ranked number one for both the social capital and economic quality sub-indexes and second for business environment and governance. Closer to home, our politicians are singing from the same song sheet. Minister Stephen Joyce, at a recent Chamber of Commerce meeting, confirmed how stable our economy has been over the last decade, despite a global recession and some pretty big natural disasters.
Everyone likes some good news and positivity to help us when the chips are low. They keep us grounded and help us to appreciate what we really have. This is our New Zealand, Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud, the land of number 8 wire, black singlets and gumboots. Thanks Mr Ball and Mr Dagg for keeping us honest and reminding us about the antics of our nation’s farmers. After all, if it weren’t for our agricultural roots, where would we be?