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The Six-Hour War

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New Zealand’s relationship with Australia has always been a convivial but strained one. For centuries the two nations have traded sporting, financial, cultural and military blows, often in a serious spirit of sacrifice and duty – but much more usually because the attacking party’s become completely smashed on booze at 3am, and held an impromptu Parliament session just for a laugh. At this Parliament, they’ve decided it’ll be a huge giggle to, say, drop a cubic kilometre of national surplus caviar on Canberra. From such humble and lovable beginnings national rivalries are made.

In 1953, World War 2 had just finished only a few short years ago. Any relatively industrialised and economically developed country that had escaped the ravages of carpet bombing was having an absolute field day, flogging cheap shit to Europeans. New Zealand’s economy was in absolute overdrive, breeding and selling lamb on a scale the likes of which the world had never seen. Edmund Hillary’s fabulously successful mission to capture Mt. Everest from the Russians and destroy it, was just the icing on an extremely wealthy, plump and happy cake.

Then Australia ruined everyone’s fun. For quite some time now the two countries had been competing to each outproduce the other in wool and lamb. Indeed, Australia’s now-legendary Mega-Sheep construction gantries were causing consternation and worry in quite a slice of New Zealand’s agricultural sector, not least of which because modifying New Zealand’s mostly steep farmland to accommodate 100-metre high sheep without them tumbling down cliffs every five seconds would be expensive and difficult, without a few hundred nuclear bombs to perform suitably delicate landscaping.

On the other hand, Australia’s already pancake-flat deserts, scrub grassland and hydrofluoric acid swamps didn’t exactly make fertile feeding for sheep of any kind, but did allow the sort of Death Star-sized wool and mutton spheres the Australian genetic engineers had in mind. Australia had undergone all sorts of flattening landscaping in its recent history – the Naughtily High Mountains in the west of the country were painstakingly bulldozed some decades earlier, partially because weather satellites kept impacting on their slopes, but mostly because the Aussies thought that a mountain range in the shape of a row of extended middle fingers pointing at India, Indonesia and the Microsoft Citadel of Evil, did made the place look a bit untidy. As undeniably hilarious and symbolic of Australiana as that was, the Queen was coming to visit later that year, so y’know, best look presentable.

Australia’s Mega-Sheep construction program got under way! Soon, mile-high woolen spheres began to exit the Aussie drydocks, and New Zealand’s wool industry started looking decidedly quaint. This couldn’t stand.

In late February 1954, the New Zealand government announced a series of bold and daring new plans to wrest the sheep production initiative back to its rightful country.

First, the national supplies of condoms and other contraceptives would now be permanently withheld from all sheep in the country, effective immediately.

Second, immense phalanxes of hair stylists would now travel from farm to farm every hour on the hour, shampooing and conditioning each and every sheep, to completely maximise wool yields and make it absolutely shine and sparkle.

Third, giant mountains of steroids would be crop-dusted over all sheep paddocks once a month to give a huge kick to their growth rates and meat yumminess – nothing like what the Australians had in mind with their mega-sheep, but still substantial and had the advantage of being about a thousandth as expensive. For the first time, this would give a huge depth of talent to the selection pool for that year’s All Blacks tour of Venus. New Zealand took the lead in sheep farming once again!

Australia’s response to all this was at first muted. In August 1954, though, after the Wallabies rugby team was thrashed by four week-old lambs, three of which were in the process of being sheared and manicured, 144 – minus-13, the Aussie government finally woke up to the fact that this shit went far beyond mere trade and economics, and brought out the big guns. Literally.

Toward the end of August, one of New Zealand’s lamb shipments to the UK was intercepted and confiscated by Australian battleships, drenched in cooking brandy, lovingly and teasingly barbecued in the Canberra parliament, and eaten on national television by gloating politicians. This meant war!

New Zealand’s response was initially hot off the starting blocks, at first attempting to do the same with their navy to Australia’s lamb shipments, but after discovering the hard way that all Australian freight ships had been forewarned of this by a cunning Aussie government, and armed themselves in advance with particle cannons and lasers, they lost most of their navy within weeks to Australian particle cannons, culminating in a huge night sea battle off the coast of Queensland, immense flashes of laser light illuminating the sky for hundreds of kilometres around, with both sides happily kicking the shit out of each other. Disaster! What the hell do we do?

A quick all-night parliamentary session was called to debate this very issue, the keenest minds of the country fueled by the finest pizza money could buy. By morning they had it. Weetbix! Quickly the national surplus of Weetbix was hurriedly deployed to shipyards up and down the country, and within days these same shipyards were spitting out the mightiest battleships the world had ever known. Their now particle-cannon-proof hulls were constructed from inviolable, dishwasher-smeltered Weetbix, for as everyone knows, dishwasher-smeltered Weetbix is the toughest and most indestructible substance in the entire universe. The military balance of power thus restored, immense fleets of New Zealand’s finest bestrode the world’s oceans like rugby fans after a pub crawl, hunting down and destroying Australia’s fleeing freight shipments.

Australia didn’t sit in its laurels for long. In November 1954, they too deployed immense battleship fleets, these ones made from conventional steel, loaned to them at rock-bottom prices from a grateful and fearful UK, concerned that their lamb supply would be cut off. Soon the Tasman Sea became a huge battleship graveyard, crammed with angry ships and sailors, challenging each other to drinking and arm-wrestling contests. By March 1955, the entire sea became clogged with battleships, and it became possible to walk from one country to another simply by stepping from ship to ship.

Finally both governments had had enough. We’re going to settle this crap once and for all, both said. What we’re going to do is, we’ll line up all sheep from both countries on each side of the Tasman, into the two hugest flocks you’ve ever seen; sellotape bayonets to the back of each sheep, and across our stuck battleship fleets, each can do a damn big charge at the other. Whoever wins the charge wins the war! Simple, right? Let’s get cracking!

The charge was on! Several million Death-Star-sized Australian sheep with hundred-kilometre-long bayonets on one side versus some ten trillion conventional yet steroid-buffed-up New Zealand sheep on the other. Amid the baying of sheepdogs, each thundered across the battleship-festooned Tasman. With bated breath, all citizens of both countries watched as the space between the two flocks shrunk dramatically. The tension was unbearable.

Alas, the weight of both flocks was too much for the battleships, and both fleets sunk beneath the waves, taking the trillions of sheep with them, and formed an entirely new rock stratum at the bottom of the ocean. Global sea levels rose over ten metres, submerging New Zealand’s East Island, leaving only Mt. Chatham above the waves.

The sheep bayonet charge never completed, both countries still exist in a state of war today, and many of the more conservative, let’s-have-another-go-at-those-dickheads politicians want this to be settled once and for all. Sadly, once the entire sheep population of both countries was lost beneath the Tasman waves, the loss of their sheep economies meant each suffered a severe recession, from which only now they’re bouncing back from. But who knows? Even the construction of nine million battleships put only the tiniest of tiny dents in New Zealand’s Weetbix surplus. Even now, political machinations are at work to do this all over again, and this time, the Tasman is now ankle-deep shallow enough for the sheep bayonet charge to wade across! Who knows what might happen?

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