I’m disappointed about the America’s Cup. I don’t mind admitting that I enjoyed the hoop-la of the event — the crowds, the racing and the unbridled pride that came with it. Every time we’ve hosted it, Auckland has created an environment and atmosphere better than any rugby test on these shores. Typically reserved Kiwis have responded with a level of patriotism and celebration frequently seen in other countries, but seldom here.

Given the decision to take our America’s Cup defence to the other side of the world for what appear to be purely financial reasons, I would be surprised if we ever see a full America’s Cup regatta ever held here again. It’s a shame.

It’s hard to believe it was only a year ago that we defended the Auld Mug on our home waters once again. At the time, it was inconceivable that we wouldn’t be having the same waterfront party again in just a few years’ time. But we won’t. And I wonder if the America’s Cup is a metaphor for where we are as a country at the moment.

For the first time in my lifetime, we seem confused about our place in the world. The reluctant statements from Wellington regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine suggest that.

Our tentative response to Covid vaccine programmes, and more recently the introduction of rapid antigen testing, suggest a loss of confidence in our ability to make good decisions.

However outward-looking we may have been in the past, we seem to have turned increasingly inwards over recent years. Local micro-stories dominate our news headlines. An MP’s resignation here. A question about Pharmac funding there. It’s not quite cats up trees, but it’s getting there.

Issues such as our Covid response, the healthcare system, house prices, and in the last couple of weeks, co-governance, dominate. Covid case numbers and related deaths continue to overshadow everything else. Gone are the days when world events were our focus. I, for one, am wondering if our ongoing myopia risks seeing us lose our place in the world.

That place once saw us proudly boxing above our weight. The Māori Battalion, Sir Ed Hillary, Sir John Walker and Bruce McLaren all feature in a lineup of people who took our story to the world. Sir Peter Blake and Sir Russell Coutts once did that too. Grant Dalton had the same opportunity in his hands. But he has taken Team New Zealand from New Zealand.

And so there is a sadness that the little country that once could, it seems, now can’t.

Our once-mammoth tourism industry is a case in point. We’ve been decimated by Covid-19. And yet, as we prepare to open our doors to the travelling world once more, we are not ready. In fact we are so ill-prepared that you would think we weren’t planning to reopen this year.

Having just travelled the length of the country, I was surprised that many of our motels are closed. A number of those that aren’t, it seems, now have long-term tenants, in many cases funded by the Ministry of Social Development. Those that are open are short-staffed and have cut services.

Occupancy has been non-existent for the past couple of years for those operators unwilling or unable to take the government money. Sky TV subscriptions are no longer affordable for many. Offices aren’t manned and phones aren’t answered.

As you travel around you’ll see empty shops in tourist towns — and some of those that aren’t empty aren’t open either. We once had over 300,000 people on tourist visas working here. There are now fewer than 150,000. Many of those people were chefs, waiters, bar and hotel workers. Tourism workers.

A hotel manager in the Far North came to our room to warn us that most of the people in his town were affected by or involved in the supply of methamphetamine. As a result, the purpose of his visit was to ensure that we didn’t leave valuable items in our vehicle. It’s not a great story for a tourist to hear.