Miley Cyrus was spot on. “No one hates New Zealand,” she told me this year, explaining she quite fancies the idea of retiring to a country that won’t be involved in nuclear warfare any time soon.
It’s always been the benefit of travelling with a New Zealand passport: it doesn’t matter to what foreign shore or grungy customs office you arrive, our country simply hasn’t made many enemies.
We didn’t fight in Iraq. We haven’t embargoed Cuba. We aren’t unduly suspicious of socialism, we haven’t banned burkas and generally speaking we haven’t played geopolitical lapdog in quite the same way as the Aussies.
It’s not so much that everyone loves us, but that most surly border officials can think of no reason not to love us.
Though most have at least heard the name “New Zealand”, many know next to nothing of our country. I’ve had airport security officials in small town Oklahoma call up their colleagues over the public PA system to come and check out my passport.
They didn’t consider me suspicious but rather delighted in examining a foreign passport they’d never encountered before.
There’s a reason fake or stolen New Zealand passports are considered among the most valuable on Earth – just ask Mossad.
There’s a reason any New Zealander working in a warzone will travel with their Kiwi passport instead of any other foreign ID.
I for one was inconvenienced and whingey about New Zealand’s five-year passport rule. I considered it a fundraiser and nothing more.
And though, as an election sweetener, my bleats are being appeased and we’re moving back to decade renewals, the events of this week have forced me to reconsider my position.
Phillip Smith should clearly never have been issued a New Zealand passport.
I’m staggered he found it so easy. The integrity of our passport system is one of our few legitimate national security issues, and if five-year renewals make it all the more robust, that should end the debate.
• Jack Tame is on Newstalk ZB, Saturdays, 9am-midday