When Polly Evans read a survey claiming that the last bastion of masculinity, the real Kiwi bloke, was about to breathe his last, she was seized by a sense of foreboding. Abandoning the London winter she took off on a motorbike for the windswept beaches and golden plains of New Zealand, hoping to root out some examples of this endangered species for posterity. But her challenges didn’t stop at the men. Just weeks after passing her bike test, Polly rode from Auckland’s glitzy Viaduct Basin to the vineyards of Hawkes Bay and on to the Southern Alps. She found wild kiwis in the dead of night, kayaked among dolphins at dawn, and spent an evening on a remote hillside with a sheep-shearing gang. As she travelled, Polly reflected on the Maori warriors who carved their enemies’ bones into cutlery, the pioneer family who lived in a tree, and the flamboyant gold miners who lit their pipes with five-pound notes, and wondered how their descendents could have become pathologically obsessed with helpfulness and Coronation Street. The author of the highly acclaimed It’s Not About the Tapas reaches some unexpected conclusions about the new New Zealand man – and finds that evolution has taken an unlikely twist.
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