“First home buyers Sharon & Barry, 26 & 27 years old, of Auckland (pictured), have had enough. ‘This is the tenth auction we’ve attended this week and, frankly, we’re starting to think we’d be better off moving to the Gold Coast.”
With an economy built on low-margin exports such as dairy, freedom camping and the haka, New Zealand workers earn among the lowest wages in the first world. Sadly, they don’t even compare that well with workers in the second or third world either. A middle-class Nigerian, on a basic internet scammer’s salary, probably has a better chance of paying back his student loan before the age of retirement, than does the average Kiwi graduate.
But on the positive side – and an asset which is more prominently featured in tourist and immigration brochures than the low average wage or high rates of aggravated assault – New Zealand does have a lot of quite nice cafes, bars and restaurants.
Scroggin is the Kiwi word for Trail Mix: a combination of fruits, nuts and chocolate eaten by trampers for rapid sustenance.
Easy to make, it is popular with children and wiry, bearded old men – the sort who spend many days at a time in the forest, trapping possums and disposing of bodies, and are therefore unlikely to have wives at home to make them sandwiches.
Number 8 Wire is, literally, a gauge of steel wire, popularly used in rural fencing. That’s fences around paddocks, not two gay farmers fighting each other with floppy swords.
But in New Zealand, the phrase, like other local oddities (women’s rubgy, Invercargill, our tender, ‘hands on’ approach to animal husbandry), has a deeper, more spiritual connection with the land.
Allow me to explain.
But nowhere is this more important than in the uniforms and names of our national sports teams. Adhering to this naming convention, with it’s limited vocabulary, has led to an inventive, if largely slapstick branch of New Zealand humour. Read more…
A rose by any other name; although the word bogan is uniquely Antipodean, the lifestyle it describes is a universal phenomenon. Formerly, and perhaps more affectionately, referred to as ‘salt of the earth’ or ‘the working classes’, every country has bogans, they just have different names for them. Terms of endearment, including ‘White Trash’, ‘Chavs’, ‘Rednecks’, ‘Pikeys’ and my personal favorite, ‘The Great Unwashed’.
The phrase “clean, green New Zealand” does not, as is often mistakenly suggested, refer to our high standard of environmentalism. Far from it, in fact. Nor does it refer to the colour of our deepening national envy for Australia.
It refers, rather, to the state of our healthy, if oddly coloured, collective colon.
You thought the world had stopped using land-line telephones years ago, right? You were wrong.
Like retired English couples, and migratory Godwits – it turns out they all just came to New Zealand to die.
New Zealand is situated on the Asia-Pacific Rim and, by drawing on it’s geographical and historical culinary influences, has adopted a unique style of fusion dining, fashionably known as ‘Asian Rimming’.
And by far and away the most popular of all the Asian Rim foods, since it’s introduction in the 80s, is Sushi.
New Zealand Crown Law1 permits only one mode of fundraising for charityb. To collect money for, say, a new Surf Lifesaving clubhouse, or indoor toilets at a local primary school, organisations must set up a barbecue at a busy Saturday shopping location and sell fried meaty logs to an unsuspecting public.
Colloquially, this is known as a Sausage Sizzle.
So fond are the Kiwis of exercising their right to protest that, only yesterday, New Zealand became the first democracy in the world to stage a march for, well.. democracy itself.
But then it was always going to be a long, hard road, the struggle for freedom and democracy, in a country that is already quite free and democratic, thank you very much.
Few moments in New Zealand life are more uncomfortable, than the arrival of the bill at the end of a group meal.
Kiwis are inherently programmed to try to make everything in life as ‘fair’ as possible. So the thought of simply dividing the tab, evenly, by the number of people present, fills the average Kiwi with the sort of confusion and terror normally reserved for an All Blacks v France Rugby World Cup match.
Which makes squaring up the tab in New Zealand, one of the most difficult, most convoluted group agreements to reach, since the David Bain jury. Both of them.
Vogel’s Bread is a Kiwi enigma. Part bread, part muesli, and part vegetarian meatloaf.
Abandoned on a desert island with but one choice of food, most New Zealanders could survive for years, quite happily, on nothing more than Marmite on generously buttered Vogel’s toast.
Hating the French has become so easy, so popular worldwide, it’s almost an Olympic sport. After all, what have they really contributed to civilisation? The White Flag, and women with hairy armpits? Cheers, mate.
But New Zealand, rather unusually for an such an unassuming pair of islands on the opposite side of the planet, has had it’s own unique, and particularly troubled history with the land of stripey-shirted, garlic-around-the-neck, pontificating troubadours.
New Zealanders fall into one (occasionally two) of following three states of being; “Thinking about buying a house”, “Buying (then paying off) a house”, or “Trying the sell a house”. Anybody who doesn’t identify with at least one of these categories is probably either an asylum seeker, or a tourist.
In New Zealand, getting around in bare feet is considered cool – in a sort of sexy-Jesus meets pro-surfer way. It demonstrates how laid back, Eco, and generally unconcerned by commercialism or fashion Kiwis like to think they are.
To the rest of the world, though, it’s just something homeless people do.
In spite of the weather, many Kiwis would happily wear this vagrant look all year round. Unfortunately, there’s just too many fucking prickles in the grass. So the next best thing, and something of a cultural icon in New Zealand, is the humble Jandal.
For a country whose primary export is Tourism, New Zealand sure has some clever ways to stop people getting in.
Of course, if there is an irony to New Zealand’s obsession with border control, it is this; arrive at Auckland airport wearing a Burqa and waving a Semtex-smeared copy of the Holy Qur’an, and you’ll be sunning your barely-exposed ankles on Piha beach within the hour. But try to sneak in the un-eaten half of a croissant the airline gave you for breakfast, and expect to be deported to Afghanistan quicker than you can say ‘Death to the Infidels’.
For all the mace & ceremonial robes, the many portraits of ‘Her Majesty’, New Zealand parliament is one rickety step above a kangaroo court (no pun at the expense of our preternaturally large hind-legged neighbours intended). If the ornate wooden interior of the House of Commons closely resembles the set of the TV show Deadwood, it may be more than mere coincidence.
New Zealand takes pride in being ‘the world’s guniea pig’. A micro-society, allegedly employed by the large (inverted commas) Corporations and/or Governments of the world to beta test new technologies, or political ideas, before they are released to much larger countries.
A common argument suggests that this is how New Zealand – an otherwise frontier outpost of technological retardation – developed the first near-cashless society, through the early introduction of Eftpos (Electronic Funds Transfer point… oh, you know what is without having to explain the acronym).
The three cornerstones of all Kiwi conversation. In parts of New Zealand, it is possible to have an entire dialogue with just these three, short, phrases.
The shelf life of a B-List celebrity anywhere is usually short lived. In New Zealand, that shelf is more of a skirting board, precariously propping up the VIP-guest-list and shopping-mall-opening dreams of our once slightly famous.
But for those not smart enough to start an orange juice company, what meaningful source of income remains, ten years after the spotlight (albeit, a weak one to begin with) fades? Not famous enough for Dancing With The Stars, too famous to work in Burger Fuel. Where to next for hostesses of 80′s game shows, singers of defunct 90′s, chicken-themed, dub-rock-lite bands, or the ex-cast of Shortland Street (those that didn’t attempt brief & unsuccessful careers overseas before ending up back on the show)?
In the apparently endless, mildly informative, and altogether embarrassing world of Advertorials, that’s where.
Forged at the coal face of colonial adventure, gold-rush comradery, and manual farm labour, New Zealand expects high standards of masculinity from it’s men. Unfortunately, these same standards also apply to it’s women.
Whether it’s down to the rural lifestyle, the lack of any good clothes shops, or simply generations of attempting to crack through the deadpan, stoic veneer of Kiwi blokes, New Zealand women are often, and perhaps sometimes wrongly, perceived as being ‘a bit hard’.
There is no winter in New Zealand, apparently. To admit otherwise, is to admit that this is not the tropical paradise our forebears anticipated when they emigrated here, which conflicts sharply with the Kiwi need for constant, positive reassurance, and is deeply unpatriotic. And probably a little racist.
Nobody eats more ketchup than the Kiwis. It’s true. And not just ‘per capita‘ either, for real.
Whether it’s a result of growing up being spoon fed sentimental pap by Watties’ TV commercials, or simply our national tendency towards a Pie-based food pyramid, Kiwis consume, on average, 3 times their body weight in tomato sauce every year*.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, known as Browns Bay, a pact was signed with the devil, or, at the very least, someone who looked a lot like him.
Until the afternoon of Monday, 25 May 1992, the received wisdom said that it was simply impossible, both physically and financially, to produce a television show in New Zealand that would last beyond two seasons. But on that fateful date, standing at the mythical crossroads of Glenfield and Wairau Roads, hours before the broadcast of his new soap, Shortland Street, the head of South Pacific Pictures, John Barnett made a bargain with the evil gods of network television, that would guarantee the future of season, after season (after season) of low-rent, locally produced television.
What he didn’t, and couldn’t, realise at the time, was that, by doing so, he had unleashed a terrible curse upon every actor who would ever appear on the show.
Located in an out-of-season timezone, with a population less than most other nations’ statistical margin of error, it’s a wonder the factories of China sell New Zealand any clothes at all. Lacking the substantial buying power of big countries, Kiwi retail chains are always last in the queue, squabbling over scraps of overpriced, end of the line, monochrome fashion that simply screams ‘THREE YEARS AGO!’.
Kiwis love a bargain. They love a bargain so much, that even the meagre 20 cent price to list an item on eBay seemed like a ‘bloody rip off’. So they invented TradeMe, which was not as fancy, but was marginally cheaper. Unsurprisingly, it was an instant hit.
If New Zealand network news was dumbed-down any further, the Medical Council could name a retardation after it. The 5 minutes out of the nightly news hour that isn’t padded out by the weather, V8 motor racing, or commercials, is spun with such ‘down home’ colloquialism, euphemism and mispronunciation, that it reads like cross between Woman’s Day, and an episode of ‘The Wiggles’.
Kiwis are by their very nature imbued with a pioneering spirit of self-reliance, hard work, and the desire to achieve a better life for one’s self and family.
And only when, after years of toil, tenacity and luck, these colonial dreams are finally realised, can Kiwis look forward to spending the rest of their life defending their success against the pitchfork-weilding angry mob of their fellow countrymen, whose own ambitions – for reasons of either circumstance, laziness, or misfortune – have been snipped a little lower down the stem.
Clean, Green, 100% Pure New Zealand. Our tourism billboards and food export packaging are awash with helpful information reminding the rest of the world how Eco, sustainable, environmentally-friendly, and downright nice we all are.
Strange, then, that the average Kiwi owns ten cars – four of which are likely to be Holden V8s. Our largest power station runs on coal. Our national train service advertises itself as the ‘Scenic Option’ on account of it taking 15 hours to get anywhere (and so consequently a population the size of Birmingham, England, is serviced by, approximately, 200 domestic airlines). Getting around on public transport in Auckland is so painful, that residents would rather risk prison time for drink driving, or being molested in a taxi, over taking the bus. And 1/3 of our entire GDP comes from cows, the most carbon-hungry, flatulent animals known to God.
Auckland. City of JAFAs (which we are reliably informed stands for ‘Joy! Another friendly Aucklander!’). A temperate climate, plenty of nice beaches, 2 harbours, and just enough going on to feel like you’re not quite dying in the cultural doldrums of the world.
So why, then, does everybody in New Zealand, even, sometimes, those who live in the city, hate Auckland so much?
New Zealand has a great many beautifully preserved character buildings and colonial villas. Ideal locations, in other words, in which to turn a fast profit by demolishing, sub-dividing and replacing them with brown, ‘Nouveau-Tuscan’, leaky townhouses and windowless shoebox apartment blocks.
Most countries in the world like coffee. But only New Zealand actually wants to marry it.
Formerly a nation of PG Tips and Nescafe drinkers, around the late 1980s to early 90s, Kiwis embraced coffee hard. The real-coffee revolution started with young, urbane women and gentlemen considered ‘light of foot‘, but it wasn’t until the invention of the Flat White – half way between a Cafe Latte and a Cappuccino, only minus the effete European name (a coffee, in other words, that no-nonsense Kiwi men could at last order in public without fear of sounding ‘like a bloody shirt-lifter’) - that our national obsession really took off.
The number of Kiwis who really make an impression on the world’s stage, in any given generation, can usually be counted on one hand. And yet, as a nation, we are so eager for high achieving celebrities who will put New Zealand on the map.
It is easy, therefore, to understand the pain felt by every New Zealander when, as often happens, yet another of our most cherished, internationally famous actors/musicians/filmmakers/sports stars is mistakenly referred to as an Australian.
Correcting these mistakes is a legal obligation of every New Zealander, under the Treaty of Waitangi.
Kiwis are really, really good at a small range of minority sports. So good, in fact, that the weight of the entire nation’s expectation rests on the hope that these sports might firmly, and finally, put New Zealand on the map.
It is a heavy burden to bear by our national sports stars who, lets face it, are not altogether the smartest, most well-rounded cookies in the jar.
Which inevitably leads to the one sport in which New Zealand truly leads the international field…Choking.
Kiwis love being told what to do. And then doing the exact opposite.
In a, perhaps ironic, counterbalance to all the hours of Cheap TV Adverts on New Zealand television, the government happily invests millions of taxpayer’s money producing film-quality, 30-second vignettes and print ads, reminding us what a bunch dicks we all are, and how, if we only drink less/drive slower/eat lamb/exercise/breast feed/buy NZ/don’t bash our kids/& make it click, then this could, at last, be a really choice place to live.
A recent addition to the bar menus of most New Zealand cities, it seems Kiwis have gone a bit mental for small plates of food that don’t quite fill you up, but somehow end up costing just as much as a regular meal.
Not to be confused with the original Spanish tapas, which is usually a plate of over-salted patates braves or slices of roadkill chorizo, given away free in bars to keep the customers drinking, and ward off the flies.
Georgie Pie – New Zealand’s own answer to McDonalds, featuring meat pies instead of burgers – began life in the 70s. But in the early 1990s, a ‘perfect storm’ of events significantly boosted the fortunes of the company, triggering a rapid over-expansion of franchises which, like all great empires, eventually caused the company to implode.
And even though Georgie Pie is also the single biggest contributing factor to an alarming rise in teenage bowel cancer during the same period1, Kiwis, particularly late 20s and thirty somethings, still get all misty eyed at it’s memory, and fall over themselves in support of any campaign to bring it back. So why is this?
Soul Patches (aka ‘Clit Ticklers’), Goatees & Lamb-chop Sideburns – or any other combination of facial hair that wouldn’t look out of place on a sound-engineer mixing an ‘Alice in Chains’ song, for the soundtrack to the movie ‘Singles’, in a recording studio in Seattle circa 1992 – are all still weirdly popular with a large percentage of modern day, Kiwi men.
With the exception of New Years Day on the Millennium, and the climbing of Mount Everest, New Zealand has never really been the first at anything. In fact, it’s unlikely we’ve ever even been in the top ten. We simply lack the population to, say, win all the gold medals at the Olympics, or become the worlds biggest consumer of pitted olives.
But, by a clever manipulation of the statistics, we can put ourselves firmly at (or near) the top of any international pissing contest. The importance of this, towards alleviating our deep national fear of being ‘basically irrelevant’ to the rest of the world, should not be underestimated.
Nothing happens in New Zealand. Ever.
And yet, against all better judgement, both TV networks feel compelled to provide a full hour of news coverage every evening. And how do they pad out the content, in a country where the biggest news event of the decade was the shearing of a stray, be-dreadlocked sheep? Segment after segment after segment of weather.
No nation on earth likes a spot of reckless driving quite like the Kiwis. For a relatively roomy, 1st world country of only 4 million, New Zealand suffers road-rage, gridlock, tail-gating, poor signalling, drink-driving, teenage-racing, and a total lack of respect for other road users, at a level that would make even a Mumbai taxi driver take to public transport. And that’s just the women.
New Zealand has never quite recovered from the Bob Marley concert at Western Springs, Auckland, in 1979.
Consequently, nothing sets the tone for a kiwi dinner-party or summer BBQ quite like a the sound of 8, white 40-somethings, from the suburbs of Wellington, playing the national music of oppressed-black-nation Jamaica. Only much slower. And without melody or structure.
Aotearoa. The ‘Land of the Long Flat Vowel’. Universally famous for our monotone, deadpan accent. Flat, front-of-the-mouth mangling of syllables, consonants, and the dropping of the letter ‘R’ at the end of words. Just listen to our Prime Minister, John Key, the next time he bungles the word ‘Opportunity’ (he does it rather a lot, but in case you were wondering, it sounds like ‘Opchoontee’).
Odd then, that almost every Kiwi makes such a commendable effort to pronounce words perfectly in every other language, with particular sensitivity to Maori and Pacific Island languages, even if sometimes it makes them sound like a bit of a dick.
This is particularly the case with weather presenters, and can be observed nightly during our Frequent Weather Reports.
As an expression of Kiwi individuality and identity, there’s nothing better than copying other Kiwis and scarring your arms, torso, ankle or (for the real hard-outs) neck and face with a ‘sort-of-pacific‘ design, picked from the wall of a K Road tattoo-parlour, after 15 cans of Lion Red and a double-dare, on your 21st birthday.
As a rule, the more likely that the tattoo will look horrifically out-of-place on either a) your wedding day, b) an important job interview some years later, or c) your sagging skin when you are a grandparent, the better.
According to Māori mythology, Taniwha are supernatural creatures – some terrifying, others protective – that live in deep pools in rivers, dark caves, or in the sea. Apparently, they also have views on public roading strategy.
Small to medium sized Kiwi businesses just can’t seem to get enough of badly produced, low-rent TV commercials featuring themselves, their staff, or an immediate family member. And while she might be the apple of your eye, mate, with a face like a badly-healed motorcycle injury, your darling daughter is unlikely to shift a lot of budget leather sofas.
Nothing informs the world of wearer’s modest Kiwi patriotism better than a printed T-Shirt with words or images cleverly rearranged into the shape of New Zealand. Ironic, then, that 99% of these are worn exclusively in this country only.
Irony has often been a bit of a struggle for Kiwis. We have a hard time making fun of ourselves. About the only thing more unbearable, is when other people make fun of us. That is simply not on.
Few phrases, uttered by respected international media pundits, excite Kiwis more than; “This will really put New Zealand on the map…”
Long hiding in the geographical and cultural shadow of Australia (the 1980s, at the peak of ‘Crocodile Dundee-mania’, was a particularly dark time for New Zealand), Kiwis are forever searching for people, ideas or events to support – sometimes to the point of scary, national obsession – which might truly focus the eyes of the world onto our fledgling, self-conscious islands.
Nobody actually eats Hokey Pokey Ice Cream, and they certainly don’t buy it from a Four Square. Watties’ Tomato Sauce tastes like bubble gum, and comes from Australia anyway. The Buzzee Bee is a shit toy – kids today just want to shoot hookers, in 47 inch plasma hi-definition, on Grand Theft Auto III.
Kiwiana, therefore, is not the love of any actual objects. It is, rather, the love of nostalgia towards objects most of us no longer give a toss about.
Kiwi’s just can’t get enough of New Zealand. They love it. So long as they don’t have to live there.
Our favorite destination to leave to, and never return, is Australia. This suits us well, because kiwis don’t like to stand out (see article ‘The Colour Black‘), and Australia is basically the same as New Zealand, only warmer, bigger and richer.
Modest to the point of peity, Kiwis consider it a sin to ‘stand out’ too much, be it in fashion, opinions, or lifestyle. And nothing blends into the background better than the colour black.
Black is everywhere in New Zealand. Or rather, bright colour is nowhere to be found. Clothing stores can’t get enough of it. It is the colour of all our national sports teams. Even the cricket team – who compulsorily wear white – call themselves the ‘Black Caps’.
Kiwis are a pretty adventurous bunch when it comes to weddings. Any popular activity pursuit can be mangled into some sort of a wedding ceremony. Bungy Jumping. Parachuting. Snow Boarding. Domestic Violence. But by far the most popular outdoor destination for tying the knot, is the Kiwi Beach.