This is a beautifully written letter on so many levels. But it resonates particularly deeply with me as I am also a New Zealander and a Scot. My vast majority of my family were born in that country and live there. I was born in Scotland but emigrated to NZ when I was 8 following my father’s death. My mother needed the help of her family, especially her parents, in those difficult years. I lost a father but I gained two grandparents who I became very, very close to and I don’t regret these events for an instant. I also gained a whole tribe of a family – 19 cousins, 10 aunts & uncles – whom I remain close to to this day.
I returned to Scotland aged 16 with my mother (now a naturalised Scot and ardent Yes supporter) and sister (slightly less ardent, but still Yes) because this land is home in a way my other home in NZ never was and never will be. NZ is the home of my family, but Scotland is my home and, while I have considered many times leaving it for other shores, I really don’t want to. Or to have to.
My 8 years in NZ really helped me form my sense of Scottishness in a way I suspect I would never have done had I remained here throughout my childhood. I was labelled as ‘other’ and quickly learned to hide my accent but I never forgot where I came from. The NZ flag was not my own; the Saltire – not the Union Flag – always was. History lessons told the story of the Maori and the European settlers (how I empathised with the Maori) but my mother taught me about my people’s history and my people’s culture. But I also completely missed being taught that I was somehow a second class citizen of the UK nor was I taught the wonders of the British Empire. I am a Scot and a post-colonial Kiwi and I have never viewed the British Empire as anything other than an exploitative regime of oppression (without denying the Scots part in oppressing many others through the Empire). I missed out completely on being taught the standard fare of British & Scottish history as taught in Scottish schools and so when I came back home I found I completely lack the baggage that many Scots of my generation carry with them (though to be fair, I have some NZ baggage in its place).
The self confidence I have gained from growing up in a country that was unapologetically independent and had no weight of lost imperial history behind it is only now apparent to me in this independence campaign. I am quite happy with the idea of living in a country with a small population and relatively small economy which does not get to ‘punch above its weight’ internationally (and doubly proud to have lived in a nation that banned all nuclear weapons, even if that meant annoying the USA). I know from personal experience that this is no barrier to having a good life. Not a perfect life, but definitely a good one and I can’t wait to see future generations of Scots growing up with that sense of confidence that being independent brings.
A guest post by Tina McCafferty
I am wondering how you are? How the days are and where you find yourself? I was very glad that my mum and sister could come to the Andy’s funeral and represent my family and myself. They know how much I love you and how I loved Andy and how at home I always was with you both. It was so great that Kirsten could be there too. As she said after 20 years is too long and she is looking forward to a walk on the beach with you and the dug. The words around Andy’s funeral are consistently ‘sad but beautiful’. He was a beautiful man in every way. I am very glad that I came home when I did a few months ago and got to say goodbye.
On reading the blog I am so deeply touched by the honest and…
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