Belfast Telegraph

Decline of the macho Kiwi too fanciful to make up

By Peter Bills

Mark my words, this is the start of the end for the male population of this country. The official news that young Kiwi males are embracing cosmetics means they're on a slippery slope about as lethal as a south island mud slide.

Clearly, this place is going to hell in a handcart.

You have to understand, such news is a major shock to the system of their overseas friends. All we've ever known was rough, tough, sweat-stained New Zealanders, scrupulously honest the lot of them living their lives in a rugged environment where a man has to do what a man has to do (and most of them did it over there).

The retort to any disaffected foreigners, especially Poms, was 'Mate, if you don't like it, you know where Auckland airport is'.

But we loved it. We came rushing off those planes, year after year, hurrying out of the airport and demanding to know where we could find a local with a lamb under each arm, for the family photo album back home.

'Yes, sure, and they eat one of those for their tea every day' we'd tell the folks when we got home.

New Zealand was a man's world that was brash, bold and as ruggedly attractive as the scenery itself.

The first time I came here, back in 1975, I was presented with an early snapshot image of the true Kiwi lifestyle.

Staying with friends out in the Auckland suburbs, I caught a bus home at about 8 o'clock on a Friday night and found myself amidst an everyday scene of New Zealand folk.

If there were four of the 40 people on the bus sober, I'd be surprised. One bloke was busily puking down the back, like he was on a ship on a bad sea. I learned later these locals had been indulging in what was known as the '6 o'clock swill', whatever that was.

But I shrugged it all off as an intrinsic part of everyday New Zealand life.

Yet all these years later, what do I find? New Zealand rugby men advertising underpants and some wearing eye liner. Eye liner, if you please. What next? Mascara and a nice little tutu outfit?

Yet there has been a striking lesson on offer about the dangers of all this on the other side of the Tasman these last few months. Australia once had a cricketer named Shane Warne, a rough tough country boy who swore like a trooper, sank beers and chased Sheilas. Just like any other true blue Aussie.

Alas, Warne's world has imploded and it's a tragic sight to see. He met some British bird named Elizabeth Hurley, shacked up with her and, ye Gods; the effect has been frightening.

Before Hurley, Warney didn't even know what a knife and fork were for. He dragged his women home by the hair and proudly boasted finger nails as black as an All Black shirt.

Yet what do we find now? Crikey, the bloke has been transformed. The Sheila has clearly got hold of him and done a complete 40,000 mile overhaul.

Warney looks like he's run into a bus. Half his old cuddly shape has gone, the face is tauter and as for finger nails, they look like they get manicured each morning. Most Australians are in the depths of depression at the sight of what the Pommie Sheila has done to one Aussie great.

Given all that, can anyone this side of the Tasman pretend they're comfortable at the news that certain All Blacks wear eyeliner and strip to their pants for advertising?

I mean, did you ever see old Colin Meads standing there in a delicate pair of pants applying black eyeliner? The only pictures of this great warrior show him with half a British Lions man's leg hanging out of his mouth.

Kiwi males embracing cosmetics? Honestly, it's the beginning of the end for this place.

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