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.
The most important example of the use of ‘per capita’ statistics is at the Olympic Games. By application of some questionable calculations, two silver medals and a bronze (in such high profile sports as windsurfing, archery and lawn bowls) can be inflated along the lines of..”and obviously, if we were the size of China, it would be equivalent to winning 2500 gold medals, which puts us 3rd in the population-adjusted medals table, behind Cook Islands, and one of those tiny African countries with all the crazy marathon runners…”
Other classic examples of ‘per capita’ manipulation of statistics to help us feel slightly less insignificant in the eyes of the world include.
- More radio stations than any other country in the world (per capita).
- More cars on the road than any other country in the world (per capita).
- More sheep, per person, than any other country in the world.
- The highest rate of teen suicide in the world (per capita).
- The fourth highest number of prisoners in the world (per capita, sitting proudly behind USA, Mexico & Poland).
In situations where ‘per capita’ manipulation fails to yeild favorable results, Kiwis like to resort to another old favorite, self-congratulatory, statistical qualifier; “…in the southern hemisphere.”
Examples of which, let us feel immense pride at having, among other things..
- The tallest building (in the southern hemisphere)
- The biggest movie screen (in the southern hemisphere)
- The highest rate of domestic violence (in the southern hemisphere)