Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Taking on The All Blacks in Wellington

Guest Post

By: Noah Arshinoff (

After taking 2 days to drive down the south island, we arrived in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, a few hours before Canada vs. New Zealand rugby watch.  While this was the last game of the tournament for Canada, it was a chance to see the legendary All Blacks play a game at home and an opportunity for us to get decked out in Canada gear.

The lead up to the game was already proof that rugby in New Zealand is equivalent to Hockey in Canada.  The entire town was out in pubs and wearing their team colours.  Flags of all 20 nations competing in the tournament have been flying all over town.  Most of all, the competition has brought out a sense of healthy sportsmanship.  Kiwis and South Africans drink alongside each other before matches, and the masses dressed in black to support the home team embraced us openly.

After a number of drinks it seemed as though the entire city was walking to the stadium grounds.  We were rushing to get to our seats in order not to miss any of the opening spectacle.  One of rugby’s finest traditions is the Haka performed by the All Blacks before each one of their games.  It is a call to battle and surely must have been intimidating to the Canadians already outmatched by a rugby powerhouse.

Our video of the Haka (click to view)

Team Canada thanking the fans

The start of the game was the highlight for Canada. Having scored first, it was the first and last time Canada would lead in the game.  Being so badly outmatched however, made for an incredibly fun atmosphere.  With no Canadian in the crowd expecting their team to win, it turned into a social gathering of 40,000 people.  We befriended a number of Kiwi’s who offered us places to crash throughout the country.

The only time Canada would lead the game (take note of the elapsed time...)


Canadians and Kiwis Unite

After the game, we met up with Greig, a buddy of mine (Noah’s) from High School.  While next weekend in Auckland will be the true party, it was great to catch up after so many years.

Our overall impression of Wellington is that it is a fantastic city and great capital!  You can walk anywhere in about 30 minutes, the streets are littered with cafes and bars, the people are generous and hospitable, and the narrow winding streets offer a charm with European flair that simple isn’t found in North America.  Tomorrow we leave the city and head north.  We don’t know where we are stopping or what we are going to see.  If the trip so far is any indication of what lies ahead, I’m sure we will be impressed by the countryside and the people.

Kindness of Strangers and Highschool Reunions

After being delayed in LA due to a broken plane (another plane backed into ours and busted it up!) for two days, we finally arrived in New Zealand late Friday night (a mere ½ hour after the END of the South Africa vs. Samoa game to which we had tickets – bummer!). The second we landed on the ground in Auckland, our luck seemed to drastically change. We were picked up at the airport by a friendly couchsurfer ( named Carolyn who put us up in her home for the night. Saturday morning we picked up our campervan, our home for the next three weeks, ( and hit the road heading south with no real plans.

Our Spaceship

First hurdle was tackling driving on the left hand side of the road and figuring out how to drive a car where everything is the mirror image of what we are used to in Canada. Luckily, Noah has driven on the left hand side of the road before and quickly adjusted to the change. We drove straight down highway 1 heading for Wellington (the location of the Canada vs. New Zealand game) and were immediately amazed at the stunning landscape. Every 15 minutes the land changes quite drastically and every change seems to present scenery more stunning than the last.

Part way through our day on the road we decided we should really try and sort out a place to crash for the night. I had been in contact with Nicole, who was a few years behind me in highschool prior to coming over, and she offered me a ton of advice on what to see and do.  A last minute Facebook message to her resulted in her generous offer of putting us up for the night. We arrived in Palmerston North and to her home and just after we cracked our first beer, an old highschool friend named Scott showed up on her doorstep as well. Scott is currently living in Australia and was over in New Zealand traveling with his brother, sister, father and a friend and just happened to be passing through Palmerston that night as well. I hadn’t seen Scott in ages so not only was it great to catch up (in NZ of all places…) but I think all three of us enjoyed having a little taste of home!

Nicole, Scott and Jacqui

After a hot breakfast (Nicole is such a lovely host – seriously, such an amazing girl! Thank you for everything!!) in Palmerston we were getting ready to finish up the final leg of the trip down to Wellington when Nicole’s roommate’s Mom (follow?), who happened to be there due to the very unfortunate circumstance of her daughter  having been in a motorcycle crash, asked us where we were staying in Wellington. Turned out that she actually lives in Wellington and very generously offered us her flat if we were willing to help her out by finishing up her laundry that was stuck in the machine after her speedy departure a few days prior, and taking out the trash. Thanks to the incredible generosity of a stranger, we have had a fantastic home base for the past couple of days while we have explored the spectacular city of Wellington (and cheered on Canada as we were clobbered by the All Blacks and enjoyed our second highschool reunion of our first week here when we met up with a friend of Noah’s from highschool named Greig and his wife Justine with whom we will be staying when we head back to Auckland this coming weekend).

The most striking thing we have noticed since our arrival here is how truly amazing the people are. Kiwis are incredibly friendly, kind and helpful. We have been offered hot showers, warm meals and places to stay by so many people. We have received an offer to visit a family on their sheep farm and a promise to teach us how to sheer a sheep. We have received another offer to bring us hunting and fishing (I have contact information so I can bring Lee back to spend time with these amazing people – they made me promise I would bring him over and hand him over to them for at least a week of hunting and fishing adventures). We have a date for pints with a couple in Christchurch when we travel through there later on this month. We have places to stay all around the north island. The Kiwis offer a wonderful example of how we as global citizens should treat one another.

Apathy is Pathetic

I have been hearing and reading a lot of people bemoaning politicians in general and making grand declarations that “Jack Layton was the only politician who truly cared about what was best for Canadians”. Mr. Layton did care passionately about making Canada a more equitable place for all and he did work hard to help bring his vision of Canada to reality but he is not the ONLY politician who cares/cared. Statements such as that are actually counter to the effort that Mr. Layton put into making politics more accessible to all Canadians and counter to Mr. Layton’s final words to us all. Apathetic statements like that just don’t fly. They give citizens of Canada a further excuse to avoid political engagement. If you really want to honour Mr. Layton’s memory, now is the time to become engaged and get involved in politics at all levels (municiple, provincial and federal). It is time to start working to understand the issues and educate yourself on them. It is time to write, phone or email your representatives and ask them for a few minutes of their time to discuss your findings and thoughts. It is the time to seek out the party that best reflects your vision of Canada and become involved.

We receive the political representation that we deserve. If you do not believe your current MP, MPP or councilor is working in your city, province or country’s best interest, it is your job to open a dialogue with them and question what they are doing. Make a stink. Get loud (in an educated manner). Get others involved. Make your voice heard.

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, it is then your job to work to ensure you receive better representation in the next election by either putting your own name forward or throwing your support (and time) behind a candidate you believe in. We, the people, decide who represents us and decide which vision of our city, province or country is likely to materialize based on our votes. That is the beauty (and sometimes the curse) of democracy.

Mr. Layton wanted to change things. He wanted to change people’s perception of politicians and he wanted to change how things get done in this country. If you want to help change things, and not just pay lip-service, then you need to get engaged and involved. Stop just talking and start doing. The only way change will happen is if you start making it happen.

“You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing, there will be no result”.

-Mahatma Ghandi

Our anthem, their soil…

One of my favourite parts of the Christmas season is the World Junior Hockey Championships. I love watching the up-and-coming players have a chance to show what they’ve got on the world stage. Plus, let’s be serious; I’m Canadian, I love hockey and I love the way it seems to bring us all together under the veil of Canadian pride. When I’m watching a game, I know that a huge portion of Canadians all over the world are watching the same game, at the same time (much the same as during Olympic hockey). Makes me feel like we’re all connected. Plus, it’s awesome that we, as a country, are so damn good at something 🙂

Sooooo…Lee is going to the gold medal game tonight in Buffalo (I’m only a little bit jealous…..).

Keep your eyes open for him on the big screen and let me know if you see him!