This afternoon I was about to start writing a Swimwatch post on Perenara’s moaning and groaning about how hard done by he was playing rugby in Japan. The whole thing was pathetic. What a baby.

However, I had barely begun when Facebook alerted me to a new post. Guess what? The new post had been written by Alison about the same Perenara meltdown. Here is what she had to say, together with comments from others with opinions on Perenara’s juvenile tirade.

Alison Wright 

OK family and friends – it’s time for a rant. TJ Perenara is reported in Stuff as having had “dark moments” while in Japan. He was away from his family etc. He was away for a few short months – with access to phone, email, video chats etc, undoubtedly living in good accommodation provided by his rugby club. His New Zealand-based family wasn’t living in lockdown.

Over the past 18 months I have heard a stream of moans from sports people about how hard these 18 months have been while they’ve had to be separated from family, friends etc.

Well, I have heard enough of their moaning. With a few exceptions they are moaning from extremely privileged positions. Their moans remind me of my grandparents who emigrated to New Zealand around 100 years ago. They left family and friends behind with no hope of ever seeing or speaking to them again. David’s grandparents were fortunate to make a return trip to Scotland in the 1950s, but they were an exception. My mother emigrated to New Zealand in 1933 with little expectation of ever seeing her Shetland family again. She was lucky, she did make return trips to Shetland in 1976 and 1981.

My father sailed from New Zealand in a troop ship in 1940 with no idea of when, or even if, he would return to New Zealand. He was away until March 1944, had a few months back in NZ and then returned to Europe until early 1945. He and my mother had no internet for emails, video chats etc. All they could do was write letters, some of which they didn’t receive as the letters found their way to the bottom of the Indian Ocean. They didn’t moan about it – it was the way it was, and they got on with it.

In the 50 years David & I have been married there have been lengthy times apart. For some months during the first year we were married, David flew to Christchurch each Monday morning and returned to Wellington each Friday evening – his work required that and that was what was done. My athletics career entailed coming from the UK to NZ each (NZ) summer. I would be away for a minimum of 2 months, sometimes longer. When David got a job as a swim coach in the US Virgin Islands in 2003, I didn’t see him for a year. The internet was improving but there was still no Facebook chat etc. He went to Jeddah for almost a year which was a challenge because the internet in Saudi Arabia was ruled by the Saudi government and therefore could be sketchy. We relished what communication we could get and made the best of it.

Some of you are like me in that we have daughters, sons, grandchildren who live overseas. None of us know when we’ll see them face-to-face again. I hope it won’t be too long before Jane and I can do our re-enactment of the opening credits of “Love Actually” again. But in the meantime, we treasure the daily communication of Facebook chat, Whatsapp and so on.

So, TJ Perenara and all the others out there moaning about your hard lot in life – wake up, read some history of emigration and the hardships the early settlers (whether they came in a waka, a sailing ship or a steamship) encountered and conquered and above all – count your blessings.


Absolutely with you 100%. Well written and presented. Btw : High Performance/Olympian – Athletes – are well paid and or compensation is paid for medals.


Fantastic. This should be shared widely.


Well said cuz xxx


I really do worry about how emotionally and psychologically fragile the more recent generations appear to be. I am regularly shocked at how infantilised, dependent and indulged the kids at my school are: today I had to ring parents about a year 11 student who was not at school. I asked if she was at home because she was unwell. Her mother said ‘Well, no. She refused to go to school today. It was her decision to start school again next week’. I was very tempted to use that exact explanation in the formal comms with the teaching staff regarding school attendance. Because heaven forfend that a parent should tell their kid to get themselves to school or live with the consequences!  Because the little dears are not allowed to use their mobiles at school, I have to sit there and watch high school students use the office phone to ring their mum to ask them to tell their dad to leave work at lunchtime, drop by the house to pick up the sports gear the kid forgot to bring to school… and if they don’t have the gear they won’t be allowed to play. And the mums tell the dads. And the dads go home at lunchtime and get the gear and drop it at the school office for Jorja or Porsha to collect. Forget the idea of my dad driving home then over to Wellington East to drop off my gym kit. Forget the very idea of me asking my mother to suggest that he do so. The women at the school office would have made me spend lunchtime outside the principal’s office if I had been stupid enough to even think of asking to use the phone for such a reason! It seems these days that not only can we not expect parents to establish and maintain reasonable expectations; even schools no longer expect young adults to be accountable for their own behaviour, belongings and responsibilities. I imagine employers receiving complaints from their young employees because they didn’t get paid simply because it was their decision not to go to work for a couple of days! 


Thank you for taking the time to give us your thoughts.

I’ve always said, that sportspeople have choices, and if they choose to be away from family for their team/sport then when the going gets ‘tough’ they need to remind themselves it was their decision.

So many of us, like you say, have family living overseas and we long to give them a hug and chew the fat but are constricted by current circumstances. Most of us, by the way are not not on a salary during our times of separation, nor did we have access to psychologists.

While I can appreciate just how hard it is to reach the top of a sport I would have thought that there would be many times hard decisions had to be made while getting there. Separation being one of them. Enough rant


Yes, maybe it’s sometimes lonely and difficult, but it was a choice and a privileged one, at that. On average, I’ve seen you maybe once every two years since I moved abroad. That was a choice we all made knowing this was probably going to be the case. You just get on with it.

Contrast this also with people in countries like the UK who, last year, went many more months without seeing their loved ones (and some never saw them again) after having made no such choice – it was forced on t


I go along with all that you say Alison. These people make a choice, it isn’t forced upon them and it isn’t a life time we are talking about.

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