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Kiwi Goes Global

What It Means To Be Kiwi (ie, from New Zealand)

NEW ZEALAND | Saturday, 3 September 2011 | Views [17617] | Comments [3]

For those who were scratching their heads and wondering why I was blogging about what it meant to be a fruit on World Nomads, you just failed the first ‘Kiwi/not Kiwi’ test.

It’s pretty hard to sum up a national identity in a single blog entry, but here goes.


When you hear ‘kiwi,’ a fruit is not the first thing which comes to mind.

You think either of: a small, flightless bird, which is native to New Zealand, and something of a symbol of the country; or the nationality of those people from that little bunch of islands known as New Zealand, or Aotearoa in the Māori vernacular.

The other stuff is called kiwifruit in New Zealand, which makes it kind of funny for us (or me, at least) when foreigners come along and talk about kiwis (fruit) and kiwibirds.


You love eNZed.

You have a strong affection for New Zealand, and think that it is the best country in the world.  Kiwis aren’t renowned for being in-your-face or too noisy, but you can probably get us talking for hours about our homeland!  Plus, there are plenty of Kiwis out there with NZ tattoos and t-shirts, and you’ll find plenty of discussion about NZ on social networking sites (despite the fact that there aren’t really that many of us).


You talk with a but of an accint.

New Zealanders have their own accent and, contrary to popular belief, it is actually different to the Australian one.  Most Kiwis have probably been teased about their accent by foreigners, at some point.  Especially when they said words containing an ‘e.’  For example, when I came to France to work as an Assistant English Teacher, I told the classes that my brother was called Ben.  They looked really confused, until I wrote it on the board.  They’d heard ‘Bin.’  An English teacher couldn’t work out what I was saying to the students when I said ‘in the tixt (text).’  If you’re to believe the Australians, we say ‘fush and chups.’
But we also have some words of our own or, at least, that many other Anglophones don’t understand.  So, if you’re a Kiwi, you know that jandals are sweet as, you're not bemused if you're asked to bring a plate, understand if you hear that Rangi pashed Kate, and think to take your togs and a chilly bin if you’re heading to the bach.

You can find more Kiwi expressions here.

You have some knowledge of Māori culture.

You may be Māori, speak te reo (the language) fluently, be au fait with all of the tikanga (customs and traditions) on the marae (meeting place), and be active within your iwi (tribe).  However, maybe you have just taken part in a few pōwhiri (welcome ceremonies) at school and know how to sing Tūtira Mai Ngā Iwi, or the national anthem in Māori.  Hopefully, you understand a few of the Māori words which commonly crop up, even if you can’t pronounce them properly.  That way you can say kia ora (hello) to your mates, have a kai (feed/food) with your whānau (family), and everything will be ka pai (good).  As long as you don’t wear your shoes inside the buildings on a marae, or sit on any tables.


You have that typical Kiwi character.

DISCLAIMER: All of this is a generalisation.
If you’re a good Kiwi bloke, you’re a tough bastard.  Like Buck Shelford.  I’ll leave NZ comedian, Mike King, to explain that one.  You are not metrosexual.  Also, you can turn your hand to fixing anything.  If you’re a Kiwi chick, you’re quite possibly a bit masculine, in your mode of expression, if nothing else.  You don’t expect men to do everything for you.  No matter what gender you are, you’re probably fairly laid back; you don’t whinge (complain), you just get on with it; you’re not as assertive or vocal as people from other nations; and you’ll give anything a go once.  Plus, apparently, you have a reputation overseas for being hard-working.  Sweet.


You like rugby.

In fact, it's a little bit like a religion.  NZ is the country of the All Blacks, after all.  You grew up with Dad watching the match (or several) on the weekend.  You probably played rugby throughout school, and after.  Well, that’s more likely if you’re a boy, but there are more and more rugby-playing girls out there too.  It makes perfect sense for the bars to be packed on game night.  And, of course the whole country will be in mourning the following day if the ABs lose.  They’ll be whinging, too.  I know, I said that Kiwis didn’t complain much, but complaining about the performance of sports teams is perfectly acceptable.
Just a sidenote: we do other sports, too.  We’re pretty decent at netball, rowing, and sailing, and we’ll have a go at any sport!


You love Kiwi tucker.

Everyone knows that you’ll always be a Kiwi if you love our Watties (tomato) sauce, and that Marmite (yeast spread) is what makes Kiwis Kiwis.  You go round to your friends’ place for a BBQ, or maybe a boil-up, and a real meal has gotta have meat.  Come summer, hokey pokey ice-cream is a favourite, and the famous pavlova (fruit-topped meringue) is sure to make an appearance. 

At some point in your life, you’ve munched on a hangi (food cooked by steam from hot rocks, a traditional Maori method).  If you need to bake ANZAC biscuits (with golden syrup and oats), you turn to the infallible Edmonds CookbookPlus, you have eaten either: Bluff Oysters, paua (abalone), or whitebait fritters.  Also, if you go to get a meat pie late at night, you always blow on the pie. 

You’re familiar with the Kiwi lifestyle and attitudes.

You can competently discuss the current storylines on Shortland St and Outrageous Fortune, two of NZ’s favourite soaps.  You think Jim Hickey is the best tv weather man ever.  If the Prime Minister of your country opens a new building at a school, you don’t think it’s at all strange.

On meeting any New Zealander, you can find a mutual friend within twenty minutes of conversation.  It’s only two degrees of separation in our country!  When you set up your internet, you accept comparatively slow internet and a data limit.  You’re only mildly annoyed at having to slow to 50km when you go through small towns on state highways.  Lastly, you don’t really need shoes, and you think stubbies are fashionable.


You make fun of Australia.

New Zealand and Australia have a kind of sibling rivalry.  If you’re a Kiwi, you have been on the receiving end of enough ‘sheep-shagger’ jokes made by Australians to start fighting back, normally with jokes about the Aussies’ intelligence, or a simple ‘bloody Aussies.’  You will never, ever, forgive them for the unsporting 1981 underarm bowling incident which prevented NZ from winning.  While you support the All Blacks and any other NZ team first, your second choice is anyone playing against Australia.

However, should you find an Aussie when you’re travelling overseas, after a ritual exchange where each one pokes fun at the other, you’ll probably become friends.  After all, they are the next best thing to a fellow Kiwi!

Tags: #blogyourbackyard, accent, being kiwi, character, food, from new zealand, kiwi, new zealand, new zealander, sport




Hi there, nice to meet you. Jody here, Kiwi living in Oakland. Really love your blog!!! Just linked to you on a post I did about the Kiwi "We" how we go everywhere in herds...http://aboutlastweekend.blogspot.com/2011/11/kiwi-we.html

  Jody Brettkelly Nov 16, 2011 6:52 AM


We used to live in Springston, then had to move to the U.S. We will never forget what it means to be a kiwi.

  kiwi girls Jul 8, 2014 11:33 PM


Love this. So cool and true!

  Phoebe Aug 6, 2018 4:53 PM

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Moi, up Mont St Clair in Sète, with my wee Kiwi, Kingi.

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