After living in rural New Zealand for 24 years it's not hard to work out where this thinking comes from.
People who have lived in rural New Zealand all their life seem uncomfortable with anyone being successful within their community. Someone who, say, makes it onto the national board of an organisation striving for the benefit of rural people, gets the put-down treatment. "Yes, well, she might be on the board of organisation x, but have you seen the state of her garden?
H C Somerset's 1938 landmark sociological study, Littledean: a New Zealand rural community describes the realities of life in rural New Zealand, and observes "tall poppies" being swiftly cut down to size.
Farming innovators might well be born in the district, but have typically worked and studied elsewhere - and traveled - before returning to farm.
As a semi-professional musician I am often asked to comment on others' musical efforts. "Didn't they sing beautifully," I'm told, this being a statement, not a question. Implicit in this is, "We liked it and don't you dare say otherwise." I wouldn't dare, but the benchmark is often set worryingly low.
If you have to choose between an outstanding musician, or other artist, and a representative of a local family who first arrived in the district in the 19th century, the latter will be selected because "She's Betty's daughter."
Innovation and change in rural New Zealand seems to come from the imports - people who have moved from the city - and, with coals heaped on their heads from all quarters, except the other imports - have driven much-needed change.
Architect Max Edridge was largely responsible for putting Greytown on the map as a Wellington shoppers' paradise. When he first proposed creating a town square on a vacant section right in the heart of the Main Street, he was almost run out of town, such was the fury of the locals.
When local boy Michael Nalder returned to Greytown and set up the Main Street Deli, on the ground floor of the building at 88 Main Street that Max had restored, Greytown suddenly had a heart, a focal point, and somewhere for locals to meet. And so the start of Greytown as a mecca for Wellingtonians began.
Meanwhile Max persevered quietly and steadily, supported only by the imports, quietly relocating buildings and building the restaurant that subsequently became Salute, one of the Wairarapa's great success stories. Along with the pioneers of the Martinborough wine industry, they turned economic deprivation in the South Wairarapa into a wonderful tourism success story.