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6 things NOT to say to a Kiwi

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Us Kiwis are a pretty hard bunch to piss off. Notoriously blase about, well, just about everything, we’re not generally the type to kick up a fuss. But, believe it or not, the easy-going Kiwi attitude only extends so far, and, like every part of the world, there’s the odd thing that always manages to get our goat.

Our foreign friends, we love you, we really do, but if you want to stay on the right side of a New Zealander, there are just a couple of things you’d be better off to keep out of your conversational arsenal. Here we go:

1. Where are your shoes, bro?

Ok, this is something that can take a bit of getting used to. When you come from a place where the shoeless are generally shoeless because they’ve sold their kicks to keep up their heroin habit or the like, it can come as a bit of a shock when normal, respectable adults with, like, real jobs and stuff are roaming the streets… *gasp* barefoot!

Sometimes it’s hot, sometimes you’re lazy, and sometimes you just want to feel the summer (or winter) grass between your toes. I’ve been stared at, glared at, even yelled at by a shocked older woman in Ponsonby (apparently Kiwiana doesn’t extend to the posher Auckland suburbs) for my brash barefootedness, but you know what? We do it, we like it, it’s part of who we are. And you know what they say, if you can’t beat us, join us.

2. So… what part of Australia are you from??

As a New Zealander overseas, this is something that you hear at least once a day. One person in the US actually asked me if you could walk from Australia to New Zealand at low-tide. Sure mate, how about you try that one day? Others think that the Sydney Harbour bridge will lead them straight to Auckland.

I know, it can be an easy mistake to make, sometimes even I get the accents wrong. And you know, it’s not like we have a problem with our mates over the ditch. They can be alright. Mostly. But if you’ve ever had an older sibling, you’ll know where I’m coming from with this one.

You fight (on the rugby pitch), you nick each others stuff (pavlova, Russell Crowe, Pharlap…), you tease each other relentlessly, but deep down, you love ’em. You just don’t want people to get you mixed up.

We’re our own, grown-up country with our own personality. Not a mini Australia.

Zealandia in Wellington
You can probably say what you like to this type of Kiwi

3. You’re from Auckland, right?

Unless you actually happen to be talking to someone from New Zealand’s so-called ‘big smoke’, this is usually as grave an error as number 2.

Most smaller-town Kiwis have a bit of a gripe that Aucklanders don’t seem to notice that there is a whole two-thirds of the country living beyond the Bombay Hills… so when this sentiment seems to be seeping into the minds of the rest of the world too, we can understandably get a bit defensive.

4. So like, do you guys have electricity over there?

I have no idea where it came from, but there seems to be an entire group of people around the world that get the impression that New Zealand is this back-to-front, inside-out rock in the pacific where we all live in thatched huts and roam the forest in grass skirts eating grubs. As fun as this sounds, most of us do actually live with all the same mod-cons as your average home in the UK or United States (although maybe with a television or three less than our US counterparts). Sorry to disappoint.

5. Next time I’m in Europe I’ll come visit.

So once you’ve explained you’re not actually Australia’s seventh state, and you live in a house with like, walls and stuff, you have to contend with people that think New Zealand is somewhere near Finland or Switzerland. Yeah, I know, we’re a little country, but it still hurts the pride a little.

6. Have you ever been to Middle Earth?

Yeah, Lord of the Rings was kinda cool, and it was awesome to see lots of pretty parts of our country on the big screen and such… but now all it seems to have done is give ‘new’ ammo to those poor sods whose sense of humour seemed to revolve around jokes about New Zealanders and our love of sheep. Before you ask, I don’t have hairy feet, I do not know how to get to Mordor and/or Gondor and if you keep making jokes about rings and elves, I will most likely be showing you the door. Cheers.

17 thoughts on “6 things NOT to say to a Kiwi

  1. OMG This is so funny!! Love the irony and sarcasm…a very well put together read, but whats even more so deliciously funny, is that it hits the mark! Well done.

  2. This is a good list except I also think that if you ask a kiwi if they like pavlova then tell them australians invented it, which they did not!!! It will get on there nerves.

  3. Oh my… the Kiwis I worked with were not laid back and blase about just about anything, HAHAHA. Good coffee though.

  4. why do kiwis have big attitude and big face?

    Is that true that kiwis are not the original people of new zealand?

    What does ‘when you are in Rome, do as romans do?’

    Why are kiwis very racist but they also hate america and australia?

    Why kiwis are so bitter?

    1. Okay Anon, it’s like this;
      “why do kiwis have big attitude and big face?” Doesn’t everyone have a ‘big attitude’ about something? We’re proud of our country and its achievements. All Maori men were able to vote in 1867, and all European men from 1879. In 1893 New Zealand was the first place in the world where women were allowed to vote. I don’t think that ‘big face’ quite made it through the translator too well; I assume you mean ‘big cheek’, which means we don’t take the austere trappings of authority very seriously, nor do we care for loftily-assumed ‘higher status’, which offends our sense of ‘class consciousness’ There are only two or three degrees of separation between the inhabitants of New Zealand. Me, or my next-door-neighbour, or his cousin in Auckland are separated by just two people to anyone else, including the Prime Minister. Subsequently, we don’t take hoity-toity ‘airs and graces’ well.

      “Is that true that kiwis are not the original people of new zealand?” The first settlers in Aotearoa/New Zealand were the Maori, a Polynesian people who discovered and began settling the islands between 1320 and 1350. Europeans discovered the two vast islands in 1642, and settlement slowly began. War with Maori proved too exhausting an undertaking and in 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, guaranteeing Maori full citizenship and the full rights thereof. Since then New Zealanders (now called ‘Kiwis’) of many hues, religious persuasions and ethnicities have made the island nation home. If there was anyone else before the Maori (and you can’t say ‘the Moriori’, because they were actually other tribes of Maori who had settled the Chatham Islands off the North Island’s coast, around 1500), then they have been remarkably diligent about not leaving any evidence (that ‘Kaimanawa wall’ is a natural formation and all else is legend, folklore and wishful thinking) of their passing.

      What does ‘when you are in Rome, do as romans do?’ I assume you mean what does the phrase means. I’ll say it once; all Kiwis are, or are descended from, people who wanted to get away from the crazy people back in the ‘old country’. This is why Kiwis are so easy-going; if you want to practice your religion in New Zealand, then go ahead. Just don’t try and make me practice your religion.

      “Why are kiwis very racist but they also hate america and australia?” ‘Very Racist’, eh? In what way? Take a look at our parliament and you won’t find a more diverse one anywhere. One of the key reasons why there wasn’t more fighting between Maori and Pakeha (non-Maori, generally referring to Caucasians) is because there was so much intermarriage. We hate neither Australians (whom we genuinely think of as our refreshingly ‘tell it like it is’ cousins) nor Americans, many of whom enjoy touring NZ and taking in its sights, culture and skifields etc., etc.. Along with us, Australians tend to cut straight to the point and not polish it up; a product of the ‘frontier days’ when talk was plain talk and everyone understood it. Although NZ was settled by willing participants and ‘Aussie’ from unwilling convicts (heh; just joshin’ ya, Aussies out there), both countries have a strong ‘proletarian’ strand to their cultures, and neither is fond of the ‘old country’s cruel class system nor of acknowledging the assumed status of so-called ‘special’ people. We all eat, sleep, work and excrete, whether it be truck driver, company director or ditch digger, and the only thing that makes someone ‘special’ is staying healthy. And love, of course. Perhaps because of its distance from other countries and having a relatively small but well-connected population (of 5m) our country has learned to assimilate information quickly and make decisions accordingly. Our elections really do make a difference As to the U.S., they do appear to be ‘The Simpsons’ for real and are ever-more quickly losing the world’s respect. We were the tirst country to have a trans-sexual mayor. We’re onto our third female Prime Minister, and the NZ parliament is also the ‘gayest in the world’, with 13 of the 120-seat government openly gay. By contrast, the U.S. are still well entrenched in that ‘stern old white men know best’ mode (Barack Obama excepted), and it’s getting a little grating now. Yes Hillary Clinton was Donald Trump’s Democrat opposition, but the country went Right and chose him over her. Sexism played some part in it; how much is up for debate, but it’s there. Our last election was headed by two female party leaders, and the incumbent won. This next U.S. election is being fought by…two old white men. Again. We do like the brash, loud, arrogance and their endearing oblivious insensitivity (heh again), we just wish they’d lose the religion in politics (over half our country has no religion, and so we like our leaders to keep their religion to themselves. I would have no problem voting for a Christian or Muslim or Sikh, as long as I had faith in their abilities), and elect on abilities, not who has the flashiest TV advertisement.

      “Why kiwis are so bitter?” Just add a little sweet, sour and salty and we brew up just fine.

  5. I moved to Canada 4 months ago and I’ve heard everyone of these but what part of Australia are you from really starts a wee fire inside the most haha. Its amazing how uneducated some people are because they live in their own little obnoxious bubble it seems.

  6. Loved this! Those questions seemed very “American” to me *wink *wink lol.
    Just one question from me: Didn’t you mean near Finland or Sweden? Switzerland is nowhere near Finland.

  7. Oh New Zealand, you are beautiful and Australia loves you ! So many of us want your wonderful Jacinda as we have SCOMO or scumbo as he is affectionately known to some of us. Many of you live here and it adds to the flavour of the antipodes.

  8. I had to ID a gentleman for some wine in the US the other night, and we joked as I’d never seen a NZ ID before, (I had to find the birth date). He suddenly got all chatty, & once my ears were good and red, he giggled and gave kind thanks. Good thing I read & didn’t assume Australian as the flags look similar. 😂

  9. Americans ask everybody “Do you have electricity?” lol
    A lot of them think that only America “has things” like electricity, TV….

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