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.
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.