A while ago some American friends relocated from sunny California to Christchurch, NZ. They are part of a new breed of political refugee, fleeing Bush and his reactionary friends. To help them through the cultural changes I produced this guide."AOF's - New Zealand: A survival guide for unsuspecting North Americans”culture
Kiwis don’t tip: it’s just not part of the culture and a key reason why service is pretty lousy.
Kiwis may appear to be rude: “have a nice day” has never been a popular phrase except in sarcasm. This doesn’t mean that they don’t care, it’s more about saying what you mean.
New Zealand Television: it’s probably best you leave your tv set behind.
New Zealand Newspapers: at best parochial, at worst just incredibly unimaginative journalism. Thank god for the Internet where you can read some real news.
God Defend New Zealand: National Anthem. Sung mostly before international rugby matches. Most citizens don’t even know it has more than one verse and even that is mumbled by after the second line.
Rugby: strange fixation of men with balls. Played in bad weather. Watched obsessively by the nation. When the national team, the All Blacks, lost a major series to Australia a couple of years ago the government offered the nation grief counselling.
Paul Holmes: another reason to not watch NZ television.
Kiwi Humour: is alive and well only a bit different to what you are used to you. Don’t worry it will grow on you, eventually. A good primer in classic kiwi humour is Fred Dagg (John Clarke) sadly now claimed as an Australian icon.
Monoculture: is prevalent in NZ especially in the South Island (SI). Though there is a strong maori/pakeha (white people) bicultural policy, most of the SI is white bread. Other ethnicities are grossly under represented. Enjoy lots of Mexican food before you move.
Exaggeration: a national pastime. EVERYONE does it!Dress
Dress code: despite having some of the most innovative clothes designers in the world, most kiwis dress down.
Jandal: (Japanese sandal) aka a thong (Aus) or flip flop (UK) worn on the feet.
‘Uggies’ (“Uggboot”): fleece lined indoor footwear of choice. These will be your best friends as you adapt to the Christchurch winter.
Gumboots: (Uk) Wellies, Wellington boots. Rubber winter outdoor boots. Joins the above in the holy trinity of Kiwi footwear.
Swan Dry (“swanie”): originally a dark green, long, woollen farming shirt, also available in shorter style in tartan. Iconic farm wear that should never have made it into the city.Language
A crib: is a SI term for holiday house, not a baby’s bed.
A bach: is the North Island (NI) version of crib. (Short for bachelor, bachelors pad).
Mainland: how those from the SI refer to where they live (as in “I’m from the mainland”).
Dairy: corner store (Aus milk bar or deli). Dairy’s are dying out unfortunately, but it’s where you go to get a chocolate fish when you have the munchies.
Chilly bin: (Aus “esky”) large portable receptacle for keeping food, but more importantly beer, cold when going on picnics or to parties. Makes a handy seat on outings.
Yanks aka ‘septics’ (septic tanks) just warning, someone will call you that. Strangely a term of affection.
Poms: English people aka “whinging poms” (for obvious reasons).
Aye: (“A”) over used verbal full stop at end of sentence as in “It’s a great day aye”. (alt spelling "ah")
NZ spelling: we add a lot more vowels.
Full stop: period.
Exclamation mark: exclamation point.
Zed: pronunciation of the letter Z.Food
Chocolate fish: fortunately not a monty python confectionary, but one made of marshmallow covered in cadbury’s dariy milk chocolate.
Paua: New Zealand abalone.
Paua fritter: deep fried and battered from local fish and chip shop. Tastes like a fried jandal but supposedly a delicacy.
Vegemite: tar like spread eaten on hot toast with lots of NZ butter. You will have to at least pretend to like it. An ANZAC icon now ironically made by American company Kraft. Kiwi’s swear they can taste the difference between Australian and NZ vegemite. Their own being superior of course. I recently found a recipe on the net for vegemite quiche, this is not recommended!
Pavlova: meringue like dessert. Another issue of trans-tasman rivalry. Both countries claiming as their own invention. NZ version must be served with lots of whipped cream and slices of kiwi fruit on top (passionfruit for special occasions).
Edmonds Sure To Rise Cookbook: now reprinted, no home has been without it since the 60’s. Will give you an insight into NZ cuisine.
Afghans: not a refugee. Biscuit made from cocoa, butter, sugar and cornflakes. Topped with chocolate icing and half a walnut. The Edmonds cookbook has a beaut recipe.
NZ cuisine: you’d better like lamb and dairy! Seriously though, it is improving however if dairy intolerant no matter how innocuous something looks on the menu, always ask if it has any in it before ordering. Politics
Piggy Muldoon: Ex conservative Prime Minister from the 70’s, now deceased. Pugnacious man, porcine in appearance and nature. In retirement played the narrator in the Rocky Horror Picture Show and appeared in TV ads for garden hoses.
MMP: NZ adopted this form of proportional representation. Not all members of parliament are directly represented, they are added by the party when allocated extra seats (‘list MPs’). This has created a much more interesting bunch of ‘polies’ (politicians) including a transsexual (my former neighbour!) and a rastafarian. There is no President or limitations to how many terms someone can be prime minister. Prime ministers are elected by the party not the people.
There is only one house of parliament (no senate) and voting is not compulsory.
Helen Clarke: Prime minister of NZ (labour party) since 1999. Appears to have had a charisma bypass. My father refers to her as “that Clarke woman”.Sights and recreation
Skiing: some local ski fields (formally known as club fields) a short drive from Christchurch might make winter more bearable.
One way bridges: Once out of Christchurch, the SI is littered with these. They really are only one lane wide and its best to not enter the bridge when there is oncoming traffic.
Driving: A country of ‘Sunday drivers” you will need to slow down. Oh and we drive on the left, and give way to traffic on the right.
Fiordland: One of the wonders of the world (unfortunately it rains over 300 days a year but the scenery is stunning)
The Homer Tunnel: No relation to the Simpsons, this famous tunnel carved through the mountainside is your gateway to Milford Sound. Like the one way bridges only very dark and long it is advisable to only drive through at the times specified.
Wellington: is the capital of NZ (not Auckland!). Known for its wind and earthquakes but in the last 10 years has become the cultural capital of the country now they know how to make a decent espresso.
…one last thing – always check your gumboots for wetas