Have a Very Raglan Christmas!

"Travel lightly, land gently, experience fully and move on."

In 2007, my friend Chris Brown and I published a book called 8 Tribes: the hidden classes of New Zealand, that documented the existence of eight social tribes in our homeland of New Zealand. One of them was the Raglan tribe, named after a small surfing town with a wicked point break on the west coast of the North Island. 

[Note for non-New Zealanders. . .  New Zealand has two main islands - we call them the North Island and the South Island. And No we don’t think that's odd.  There’s also Stewart Island to the south and the Chatham Islands way to the east. I’m not sure why Stewart Island didn’t get a ‘the’.]

 Surf - and rip - at Raglan [photo by Peter Hallwright]

Surf - and rip - at Raglan [photo by Peter Hallwright]

This is from our book:

The key word for the Raglan tribe is freedom; its icons are the Adventurer and the Artist. Raglan tribe members want to create and control their own destiny.
Their approach to authority is not so much defiance as indifference. They need to do what they need to do and if the rules don’t fit then the rules are wrong. 


Summer time is Raglan time. So in the southern hemisphere, it’s also Christmas time. 

A Raglan tribe Christmas celebration is laid-back and unstuffy - on a sunny day it’s probably a barbecue in the back yard. Most commonly it's a shared meal where everyone contributes something. More and more nowadays, the food is non-traditional [not turkey anyway] and only the children receive gifts. After lunch there will be naps and games. Someone will break something - a window, a bone, a resolution not to eat or drink too much. 

The Raglan Holiday

Then there’s the vacation -  the Christmas holidays in our terms. School's out from December to February. and almost everyone tries to take a vacation. We don't really understand cultures that impose social pressure on people NOT to take time off in summer. It’s kind of like a New Zealander’s birthright - a reward for effort and also a chance to chill out, recharge the batteries and do something completely different. 

Almost everyone, even the most uptight, materialistic, ladder-climbing colleague will come back from their summer holidays with a 'raglan' story. It will involve one or more of the following: camping in a tiny bay, eating fish or kai moana [seafood] you caught or gathered yourselves, climbing mountains, kayaking down rivers, going on a tramp [hiking] or just a walk through bush, lazing by pristine lakes reading or swimming or surfing at the beach.

In fact the only way to identify the ladder climbers is that their Raglan vacations will be more hard core. Their tiny bay will be accessible only by boat, their lake will be remote and unpeopled. They will engage in a demanding activity - free diving, paragliding, mountain climbing, tow-in surfing - perhaps demonstrating a skill they’ve secretly acquired in the past 12 months. 

 No one else really cares. They enjoyed their scruffy tent or bach [holiday house], their family picnics, taking children to adventure playgrounds, games of touch rugby or cricket at the park or the beach, and the sheer joy of having nowhere to be and nothing to do. 

Rain, Rips and Crashes

It’s never quite perfect. January is sometimes quite a rainy month and the extra volume of people on the roads causes delays and occasional crashes. Almost inevitably some of those who flock to lakes, beaches and rivers will over-estimate their capabilities or under-estimate their ignorance. 

So the news media is full of rain-soaked campers, “holiday road tolls” and drowning stories. There will be videos of surf rescue boats blasting through waves and images of long queues of traffic heading out of and then back to the cities at almost walking speed.

In that regard, here’s a video about how to spot rip currents at the beach and what to do if you get caught.  It’s Australian - if there is a New Zealand one it doesn’t have good SEO - all I could find on the Water Safety NZ website was a poster - which is fine, but to me neglects to share important information that would alleviate the big killer - panic.  

For example [and please excuse my digression if you just can't imagine either being in the sea or taking your clothes off outside right now] but: rips can’t pull you under and they only take you out beyond the breakers, and can even cycle back to shore apparently.

And if you get caught on a non-patrolled beach and you're not a strong swimmer, you should lie back and float. Actually that’s pretty dumb that they didn't include that kind of information, since most drownings probably happen on un-patrolled beaches. That's the downside of the Raglan tribal values - the part that thinks rules are for fools. 

But on the positive side, I think this Raglan spirit is one of the reasons New Zealanders are among the happiest people in the world.  Raglan tribe values figure more strongly in this country than in many other Western countries. Probably Australia would be next. For the record, we're 9th happiest in the world and Australia is 10th. 

So whether you’re in the snowy north or the warmer southern regions of the world, have yourself a Raglan Christmas or any other more or less religious festival you happen to be having this solstice. Don’t make it a big production and stress yourself out . . . do make time to play . . . take the time off that you're entitled to - you do deserve it. . . and enjoy your life.  

It’s what Jesus [and the pagans who initially created the holiday] would want for you.  Yes I’m sure.

If you want to find out if you have Raglan Tribe values? Go to the 8 Tribes Website and Find Your Tribe. It's free. 

And if you want to know even more about Raglan values, go here and buy the 8 Tribes e-book  . . .

Thanks for  reading!  I'm off now till after Christmas, when I'll be creating a new ' No Resolutions' campaign for January 1.  

Jill Caldwell