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Tea, Ceremony, And The Coronation: The Importance Of Shared History

As a foreigner newly arrived here, there's much to delight in, but I don’t think I will ever be able to get behind “gumboot” tea. Don’t get me wrong; I think the analogy is perfect: the tea certainly resembles something that I have poured out of my gumboot after a particularly wet country tramp. I just don’t know why New Zealanders are so proud of it.

Tea should be poured generously into beautifully painted, fine-lipped cups from your grandmother’s silver teapot warmed with piping hot water before a long-leaf tea is steeped at a comfortable 90 degrees. The pot is then turned—thrice clockwise, half a turn counterclockwise—and there are biscuits shared with a friend or a stranger.

Convenience (teabags) is, well, helpful, but beauty is essential, as is ceremony. If a cup shared between friends is cause enough for fanfare, how much more an historic event like the coronation?

Queen Elizabeth’s in 1953 did not come at a particularly agreeable (or convenient) time. Food rationing was in place, but the celebrations were so memorable that grandmothers were still talking about them over their coronation chicken 60 years on.

This is why it has been disappointing to see the general apathy towards anything remotely resembling “pageantry” for the recent affair.

Christopher Luxon informed us all that we didn’t need any more time off: “I mean, I think we've had a lot of public holidays this year. I think New Zealand needs to get back to work, really.”

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And Christopher Hipkins said he was in favour of a republic anyway.

Perhaps that’s a Kiwi thing. Happily for them, they could enjoy the festivities in the UK regardless of their published indifference.

There are many reasons for countries like ours—former colonies with troubled pasts and strained presents—to forgo the expense and hassle of a coronation. But for all that, the monarchy is not irrelevant. Even if it doesn’t hold much power today or disappears tomorrow, it is not merely a significant part of our history but the basis for our legally established government.

This is something we mostly agree on. The most recent poll shows that half of us don’t support Chris Hipkins’s Republican aspirations. And more work? As philosopher Joseph Pieper puts it, work will always be with us: “The demands of the working world grow ever more total, grasping ever more completely the whole of human existence.”

The coronation has been and gone, but it’s never too late for a little ceremony. Pause convenience. Have some cake and a cup of tea (properly brewed). Reflect on the glory it is to be a person among people with hundreds of years of shared history and a common future. Advocate for the human being, not the human doing.




Natasha Baulis, Researcher, Maxim Institute.

Maxim Institute is an independent think tank working to promote the dignity of every person in New Zealand by standing for freedom, justice, compassion, and hope.

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