The New Zealand national anthem vs The Dream

Like most of the country, I watched the All Blacks play Australia on Saturday. And let’s get the ‘bad’ news out of the way here – we lost. We lost the championship. To Australia. The result is black and white – mind the pun. Actually is it a pun if New Zealand lost? Cause the result favoured green and gold? But then, losing is still a part of the result, so the result for the black and white team was still black and white.. Ok yeah it’s a pun. LOL I’m confidently a crack up!

I digress. And I’m dizzy.

Now aside from the athleticism and the spirit of competition, what I love about international sporting events are the national anthems. Watching brilliantly talented people declare pride through the medium of song moves me to the very core.

However, what I can’t help but notice about the way New Zealanders sing the national anthem is not only that some people get the Maori pronunciation wrong (which, like sexism, saturated fat and avoiding tax is no longer acceptable by the way); I can’t help but notice the often stark contrast between the overall vigor that New Zealanders display vs other countries.

That Guy by Justin Tarte
‘That Guy’ gets noticed by Superman! Image by Justin Tarte

When the camera pans the crowd, most New Zealanders are standing respectfully and moving their lips in unison with the words.. Most are present and engaged.. But most are looking and laughing awkwardly at ‘that guy’ – the only kiwi singing the anthem as proudly and as loudly as their larynx will allow. However, when the opposing country sings their anthem, the players and their entire body of support fits the New Zealand mould of ‘that guy’. They are all in the moment, wearing their passion and their excitement on their sleeve. And it is absolutely incredible.

I expressed my wonderment to a fellow rugby watcher on Saturday, and was met with the response that perhaps the spectators save their energy and emotion for the haka. This, I can kind of understand. But in the same breath, the haka and the anthem are separate beasts, each with their own place, history and relevance. The anthem to me is the first opportunity we have to declare our presence. So why don’t we visibly give it our all?

Turns out I’m not alone in noticing this difference.. A quick Google search demonstrates it’s a topic many a journalist has wondered over.. Is it a New Zealand thing? Is it because we have an underlying fear of being that tall poppy? Are we, as a people, just not terribly enthused by singing? Since we are so young, are we still metaphorically and therefore physically finding our voice? Or is it just the ‘kiwi way’ and I personally should think about moving to Argentina if I want an anthem spirit worth dying over?

Whatever it is, I couldn’t help but notice that us kiwis have a strange tendency to keep our passions relatively reserved (unless we are hammered.. But that’s another story).

Well ya know what? This isn’t really good enough, New Zealand. People, we are better than this. We are more than this. The anthem, whether you like it or not, is the first opportunity we get to express our very existence, to make it known that we are there and we are ready.

Me about to sing the anthem of peanuts and beer.

And in fact, Your Dream deserves an anthem of  its own. Like the nation of New Zealand, Your Dream has been built from history (however short), a purpose, and a reason. It’s been a long road to get here. You have supporters who back you and in order to do well, you need to focus on where you have come from, on what it is you believe in. And in that moment when you sing your anthem, when you declare Your Dream, fear of judgement and failure doesn’t even cross your mind – because not only are you proud that you have made it here, you are ready to represent Your Dream til the very end.

So when you get the chance to sing whatever anthem you believe in, sing it with pride, sing it clearly, sing it unreservedly and stamp your individual unashamed passion on it. Cause, in that moment, if you don’t believe in it, who will?

I’ll be watching you when the All Blacks play Australia again this weekend (creepy, but I’ll be there). I wanna see straining voices. I want red faces. I want tears. And I want you to put in that same amount of passion, love and pride when you sing the anthem of Your Dream.


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