Tongan Time 

Tongan time could be defined as anytime after (never before) the arranged meet time. As someone who believes in being punctual to the point of being early I think I am going to have to get used to waiting. Having said that I’m living a lifestyle where time is merely a guideline in most cases and a need to rush is very rare, so ‘Tongan time’ is less of an issue and more of a cultural observation.

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Last Friday a few friends (Tongans) and I headed out to Whites Bay. I had originally, perhaps optimistically, suggested we leave at 10am in order to make the most of the good weather and glorious beaches along the Port Underwood road. It was gone 11am before we hit the road, Tongan time in practice. I didn’t actually leave my house to pick the lads up until half 10, already factoring in that they may not be on time. When I arrived I was greeted with the question ‘when are we leaving toko?’ whilst all three remained in bed. Thankfully as I’ve already mentioned there was no and very rarely is, any rush so setting off an hour later than planned didn’t matter.

Whilst driving around this part of the world, there are a couple of noticeable differences to home. As I’ve mentioned previously the views are incredible and this could not have been more apparent then on our first long away trip over the hills to play the Nelson based teams. The National league setup back in the UK means that I am no stranger to long away trips and compared to some of the trips we take, a couple hours on a bus is a regular occurrence, however the drives couldn’t be more different. A two hour away game in the UK would invariably take you onto a large, straight six lane motorway where I would spend the majority of the time asleep or catching up on some TV on my iPad. A two-hour away trip in New Zealand however, is a completely different kettle of fish (especially for someone new to the country). The journey over to Nelson takes you along state highway 6 which, for the most part, is nothing more than two lanes of winding road through Mount Richmond Forest park.

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Emerging from the hills the highway meanders down the coastline adjacent to Tasman Bay until reaching Nelson. Like a dog on the way to the park, I spent the entire trip starring out the window, had I been able to open it I probably would have stuck my head out as well. Another noticeable difference comes in the form of road spills. In the past month the Blenheim Council has spent over $17,000 on cleaning up wine spills coming from trucks carrying the grape harvest, this is wine country after all. 

In terms of rugby, things are looking up after we registered our first win of the season last weekend against Kahurangi. We took an early half time lead 28-5 and just about managed to hold on as the final whistle blew leaving us 28-17 victors. Unfortunately the win came at a cost late in the game when our flyhalf broke his arm in a tackle, with a minimum of eight weeks out it leaves us searching for a new option at first five (hopefully not me). 

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