Although this is the second time Bill and Paulette Kane have made the trek from Papakura, New Zealand, to Mississippi, they admire the state and see many positive virtues.
“It is a state that should be better known to our part of the world. It is like a diamond in the rough,” said Bill Kane, who serves as a Customs officer for the Auckland International Airport.
“There a re many wonderful people and places here,” Paulette Kane added.
“I have been doing that for eight years. Before that, I worked with a credit company,” Bill Kane said in a distinct New Zealand accent.
The Kanes came to Mississippi to visit Ken and Brenda Carter more than three years ago and found out about a place in Mississippi called Paulette.
She said they found out it was the name of a road near Macon.
“We thought it was a town, so when we found the road, after asking someone where it is, I wanted to have my picture taken at the sign,” she said.
When they came back this time for another visit, the Kanes were treated to a trip to Starkville where they visited the campus of Mississippi State University.
“We also went to Macon and Shuqualak. We did not know where that was,” Paulette said.
They also visited Waverley Mansion near West Point during their time here and went to the “Tales From the Crypt” program at Friendship Cemetery.
“That was absolutely fun,” Bill said.
Tales From the Crypt is part of a Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science history program where students research the lives of late Columbus residents. They then don period costumes and perform a monologue as their research subject.
“The young people did such a good job in their parts. They are smart,” Paulette said.
While at the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center in Columbus, the couple met Columbus Police Chief Joseph St. John.
“We just happened to meet and start talking. I enjoyed their company, and decided I would give them a Chief”s Coin,” he said.
The Kanes returned the gesture by presenting St. John with a coin Monday afternoon at his office. The coin is gold in color, and contains the country”s official seal.
St. John was flattered by the gesture.
“Since I gave him a Chief”s Coin, which I give out to many people who come here, or who are important, he decided to give me one from his country. It is a beautiful piece of work, very well designed,” he said.
The Kanes wrapped up their stay in the area Monday and are flying back to New Zealand today.
“We plan to come back in another three or so years. And we will be back in Columbus,” Bill said.
Allen Baswell was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.
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