This isn’t Kansas Dorothy

“Toto, I’ve got a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore” so said Dorothy to her little dog, in the Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy and Toto

via Wikipedia

I love The Wizard of Oz and today when thumbing through my ancient and dog-eared copy I came across this phrase.  And while it struck me as being correct geographically, New Zealand is some 7,940 miles/12,780 kms distance from Kansas, there are other similarities and also unsimilarities. differences.

For instance we know that Kansas produces corn, fields and fields of it. So does the Waikato region of New Zealand.  Look at these two photos – how alike are they?

Kansas Corn field

Kansas Corn Field

Waikato NZ Corn Fields

Waikato NZ Corn Fields

And both have major rivers running through them.  What came first the name of the rivers or the areas settled around them?

I know very little about Kansas but would like to share a little NZ history here.  When the land was invaded by the colonizing British a series of armed conflicts  was waged in various parts of the country.   The wars were fought over a number of issues, the most prominent concerning Māori land being sold to the settler population.

There is a Maori King who resides in the area.  He inherited the crown from his mother in 2006.

Maori King

King Tuheitia on the throne at Turangawaewae Marae. Picture / Peter Drury, Reuters

Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand.  The Maori and the pakeha (the non indigenous New Zealanders) live in harmony for the most part.  The Maori are being recompensed for the happenings in the 19th Century when their land was taken and the Waitangi Tribunal is hearing and addressing their claims.

The claims are based on the Treaty of Waitangiwhich is the document signed  by Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson on behalf of the then Queen of England, Victoria, and many of the Maori Chiefs on behalf of the people of New Zealand.  This was a land of clans and there is still argument as to whether the Maori King speaks for all Maori.

But back to the Wizard of Oz.  I have told in an earlier post of how as children we went to the movies on a Friday night.  Of how scared I was of the witch and how much I appreciated my Father’s warm and loving hand in mine whenever she came onto the screen.

Over the past few weeks I have read various blogs either on the subject of The Wizard or else weaving it into the blog.  Monica’s post had this mother wondering about her daughter “For all I know, when my daughter’s at college, she’s walking around in ruby slippers and impersonating Judy Garland.”  Or rather not wondering when she was away at college.

Wizard title page

Original title page circa 1900 via Wikipedia

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” seems to have played a part in many of our lives, whenever and wherever we have lived.  And there are so many morals included in the book.  The tin Man  used to make his living chopping down trees in the forests of Oz, as his father had before him. Because the wicked witch enchanted his axe to prevent him marrying the woman he loved he became a man of tin and really wanted a heart again;  the Scarecrow  reveals that he lacks a brain and desires above all else to have one. In reality, he is only two days old and merely ignorant. Throughout the course of the novel, he demonstrates that he already has the brains he seeks and is later recognized as “the wisest man in all of Oz,”; Cowardly Lion believes that his fear makes him inadequate. He does not understand that courage means acting in the face of fear, which he does frequently.

These  three pictures are all from Wikipedia.

Wikipedia gives a brief outline of scholarly interpretations thus:

“Economics and history professors have published scholarly studies that indicate the images and characters used by Baum and Denslow closely resembled political images that were well known in the 1890s. The Scarecrow, like other characters and elements in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was a common theme found in editorial cartoons of the previous decade. Baum and Denslow, like most writers, used the materials at hand that they knew best. They built a story around them, added Dorothy, and added a series of lessons to the effect that everyone possesses the resources they need (such as brains, a heart and courage) if only they had self-confidence. Although it was a children’s book, of course, Baum noted in the preface that it was a “modernized” fairy tale as well.

Those who interpret The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a political allegory often see the Scarecrow, a central figure, as a reflection of the popular image of the American farmer—although he has been persuaded that he is only a dumb hick, he possesses a strong common sense, remarkable insight and quick-wittedness that needs only to be reinforced by self confidence.”

So we can all either just enjoy this great tale or learn from it – or maybe we can do both.

“You live and learn: at any rate you live”  Robert Cody – Note I think this is the Robert Cody, author and one of the most notable American performers of the Native American flute.

Judith Baxter, Platinum Author Registered & Protected

14 responses to “This isn’t Kansas Dorothy

  1. Judith, I think this is the best post I have ever read! This is Fresh Pressed worthy and I hope they see it!, Thank for the depth and interesting and so well written!!


  2. There was certainly a lot of material woven into the story “The Wizard of Oz.” Interesting thoughts on the political figures of the times and such. I’ve read the name “Maori” but never knew who they were, other than residents of NZ. Thanks for the education, Judith.


    • The Maori are a very proud race of people. There are of course, some hot heads who want independence from the state but they are few. Mostly, as I said, we live in harmony.


  3. I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore” characterizes the conscience of the American people from Vietnam to the presence. The Age of Innocence is no more. Upon additional reflection on our history, one can conclude it never was.


  4. winsomebella

    I grew up in Kansas, so I enjoyed this post for that connection. Even more, I enjoyed the interesting facts you present so eloquently. Thanks.


  5. I’ve never been to Kansas but have seen the Wizard of Oz a few times in my life… Excellent post! 🙂


    • Kansas seems to be far away from anywhere I have ever visited. Growing up and after seeing the Wizard I thought it was a place in somebody’s imagination.
      Thanks for the comment. 🙂


  6. jacquelincangro

    I enjoyed your writings on New Zealand’s history. I would love to learn more about the Maori culture and their current interactions with the non-indigenous people. It is quite an important topic here in the US, too.

    What I love about The Wizard of Oz is that it is one of those wonderful things that unites so many people. It’s truly cross-cultural and cross-ages. I remember seeing the actual ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC and just stared at them for the longest time.


  7. I propose to write more about the Maori culture in future posts. And as you probably have gathered, I too love the Wizard. At each reading something else pops up.


  8. Pingback: Make your memories live forever | Share Your Stories With Your Family

  9. Pingback: Judy Overload: Wizard of Oz « Okinawa Assault

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