You know what’s bloody amazing?
I had a chat with one of our new staffers the other day.
He was surprised at the vitriol coming from other parts of New Zealand about the situation Queenstown finds itself in.
That others have taken some sick pleasure in our struggle.
That our migrant workers – who took jobs Kiwis decided they were “too good” for – who left their families and friends and have, often, found themselves facing language barriers but have assimilated in Aotearoa, are in a hideous limbo.
Without a job, benefits, or the means to get home, they’ve been told by keyboard losers (‘cos they sure as jingos don’t deserve a ‘warriors’ title) it somehow serves them right.
That a massive proportion of our community, including citizens and residents, have lost their jobs in the past four or five weeks, and hundreds of others might have to return to their home countries because immigration’s taken a pause.
That our businesses, so many built from the ground up, with foundations of little more than sacrifice and hope, are facing such uncertain times.
That our economy is, well, a bit naffed right now.
The saddest thing about our new staffer’s surprise is that I wasn’t surprised.
Queenstown’s success has often been a sore point for others, who genuinely don’t understand how hard we collectively work just to survive on a daily basis, in good times.
Sometimes, when people are jealous of others’ success, their instinctive reaction is to be nasty and cut others down to size.
It’s called ‘tall poppy syndrome’.
It’s been the status quo for Queenstown for decades … internally and externally.
On the latter, it’s become pretty nasty in the past month or so.
But, here’s the flip side.
Often, if you want something to grow, you have to cut it.
Like your hair.
When you’ve had a dramatic hair chop, your locks go into shock for a couple of weeks – your hair doesn’t sit right, doesn’t feel right, won’t do what you want it to.
But then it settles down and it starts growing, rapidly.
It’s like Queenstown’s just had the mother of all hair cuts – a zero all over by a rookie in control of a rusty shearing hand piece.
There are bleeding flesh wounds to prove it.
Some people think our new ‘do is unbecoming.
Some laugh at us.
Some, mistakenly, think it’s permanent.
We, meanwhile, know it isn’t.
We’ve put our shoulders back, owned our new look and have started taking the first brave steps outside without the hat or beanie, knowing with every passing day it’ll get longer.
We might not look the same for a while – jeepers, we might decide we didn’t like our old style and pick a new one.
But, Queenstown, we WILL grow back.
I got a teeny bit emosh on Tuesday night.
I’d been told we were heading for a 16-page Mountain Scene and I was stoked with that – to have a Scene on the streets at all right now’s a win.
When I got a page plan for 24 pages, given the current climate, I figured there’d probably been a whoopsie.
But there hadn’t been.
Because, Queenstown, you decided to “support local”.
You decided to support us.
It isn’t just us, though.
You’ve supported everyone, in any way you can, and encouraged others to do the same.
You’ve done it without really thinking, because that’s just who you are.
This, Queenstown, is what separates us from the herd.
This is what will get us through the coming months and years.
The knowledge that for one of us to succeed, we all must succeed.
We have an innate unity here, because we chose this place to call home.
And when we moved, we packed resilience and a will to succeed that’s now become part of the fabric of Queenstown.
The last five weeks or so have been surreal and, for many, overwhelming and filled with anxiety.
The days and weeks ahead will, undoubtedly, be equally difficult as we survey the damage and understand more what our new, short-term normal looks like.
But if there is any place in NZ that can lead the way and show what’s possible when a community unites to support each other, it’s ours.
Let’s show the rest of our country what can happen when a community on its knees decides to stand up together.
And, on behalf of Team@Scene, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for supporting us.
We are so proud to be your community newspaper.