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Life in En Zed

Updated: Oct 17, 2020


I wanted to start this email by noting that my last blog post may have portrayed New Zealand and its inhabitants ... less than favorably, which was a huge mistake, because nothing could be further from the truth. For the record, I have never been to a place where the entire country is filled with people so incredibly nice and wonderful. I have met whole pockets and groups of people all over the world that have impressed me, but never in such large numbers as the people we call Kiwis, so in the spirit of showing my admiration and respect, I have a few honourable mentions (honour being spelled with a 'u'... which is in honour of New Zealand).

Fame: A great way to show how much I appreciate Kiwis and what great people they are is to just start name dropping. Here is a list of some famous Kiwis that you may not have known they were in fact NZers: - Bret Mckenzie and Jemaine Clement of Flight of Conchords - Taika Waititi: known for just winning an Oscar (JoJo Rabbit) and also a director of some of my favourite movies. - The All Blacks: Professional Rugby team that has one of the world's all time highest win ratios. Somewhere around 94% of games are "W"s for this team. - Ernest Rutherford: Winner of the 1908 Nobel Prize and first person to split the atom. - Lorde: the singer/song writer. - Peter Jackson: Father and creator of Middle Earth. God-like figure to nerds (and my wife) (who is a nerd, so this makes sense). The One Director to Lead Them All. -Rhys Darby (actor), Sam Worthington (actor) , Edmund Hillary (mountaineer/philanthropist), Lydia Ko (golfer), AJ Hackett (creator of the commercial Bungy), and more.

Kiwis, Kiwis & Kiwis:      It's worth addressing this homograph. 1 word can be used to describe a people, a fruit, and/or a bird. It seems like in the future this may be used to represent anything and people will soon say things like, "Good Kiwi to you. Are you going to kiwi today or non-kiwi? I kiwily made a kiwi thing today and kiwid to myself, this is inkiwi-able".      The point is, why does this word mean so many things? Well, put on your learning hats, or pants, or infinity scarves or whatever clothing helps you learn. The kiwi is a flightless bird that is related to ostriches and Moa (which we'll talk about it a future post). They range in size from a large chihuahua to a small beagle, and they have very small, unnoticeable wings, which makes flying difficult (I won't say impossible because Justin Bieber taught me to never say never). Kiwis are the national bird and around the time of World War I, the bird was superimposed onto the identity of the people, so people began referring to New Zealanders as Kiwis too. Funny enough, the fruit is usually called kiwifruit here, so that actually helps remove some of the confusion. The fruit is not native to New Zealand, so when it began being grown and exported here, it was originally called Chinese Gooseberry and eventually became known as Kiwifruit, but the rest of the world abbreviated it to just 'kiwi'.

And now you know your kiwis.

Some Funny Things About a Funny Place:      There are some parts of life here that I have found unusual and entertaining. To start with, the word "Downtown" doesn't really exist - they call it either City Centre, or CBD (short for Central Business District). So when you go to a City Centre, usually of a smaller city or town, you may notice that many buildings have actual names on them. You'll often see etched into the tops of buildings something like "Waring Building" or "Mason's Building". It seems very quaint and old-timey to me, and it seems that way because... it is. This is a remnant of an older time where buildings were usually named for a family, owner, or business. You don't really see this on the newer buildings, but it's not uncommon here.      Wet dog food comes in log form. Wait. What?

Imagine a shrink wrapped roll of cookie dough, the kind Pillsbury sells. Then blow that up to about 6 times the size and you have NZ dog food. Here's LC bulking up her biceps with some dog food:

Part 2 on the dog food observation is if you look closely at the person behind LC, you'll notice a woman who doesn't have shoes on. That's not uncommon. Shoes are not a requirement in grocery stores, or basically anywhere for that matter, which brings me to my next point; social strata.

This isn't a political thing, it's just funny that nearly everyone uses a first name basis. I don't think I've heard anyone referred to as Mr. or Mrs. here. Even a doctor introduced herself as Felicity (because that was her name, it wasn't like a thing she just decided she'll be called that). Nearly every professional business signature I've seen is just a person's name, with almost no titles or formal addressing.  Here's a video clip from the show Flight of the Conchords that depicts this concept very well. Life Happenings: We recently went to a brewery in Wellington that had this wall art. The brewery is Black Dog, and they do some good brews, but that's not what impressed. The Decor - that impressed us:

 There's no story behind this, just some unusual art >>

> Moving right along >>>

   We went on a hike not long ago up Te Mata ('tay mah-tah') Peak. It's a great place where you are given 5 trail options with different distances and difficulties, that all lead to the same place.

There were harder and longer trails and shorter/easier trails.

We chose the harder trails.

We chose wrong.

I am lazy - it's a fact - I know this fact about myself and I accept it. So on our hike, we were about 3/4 of the way to the top when I voted we turn around and go eat instead of work out more and be healthy. We turned around but chose to take a different path back, and after about 15 minutes, found ourselves going back to the location that we turned around at. It occurred to me that we may be caught in some kind of infinite time loop or wormhole. We would forever be trapped hiking new trails, but somehow ending up in the same place.

It seemed like any second David Bowie would pop out of the forest with a gaggle of goblins and start singing Dance Magic Dance or some other jingle from The Labyrinth.

After a short spell of fear and worry that we were determined to live our lives like Sisyphus, a nice couple walked past us and we asked for their help. These were 2 ladies, in their fifties, and in a typical Kiwi fashion, they didn't just tell us where to go, they changed their hike to ensure we made it out of this unsolvable hiking puzzle. They also moved at a blistering pace, which didn't do anything for my self-esteem that 2 fifty-something year olds were chatting, laughing and having a grand time, as I trailed behind them huffing and puffing. I felt like Chunk from the Goonies, out of breath and clearly not the person you look to for leadership or fitness routines. I'll call this a... humbling experience. Nowadays, I'm running significantly more to get into shape to avoid the "humbling feeling" I experienced that day. Although, now that I think about it, maybe I should just work on reading maps and avoid getting lost in the first place...     We also went to Te Papa, which is NZ's premier museum in Wellington. Nearly all museums in NZ are free, which is awesome, and Te Papa is no exception. Te Papa translates literally to 'Container of Treasures' from Maori. They have an exhibit called Gallipoli, which is the story of NZ involvement in WWI, in Gallipoli, Turkey. If you have just 1 museum exhibit to see for the rest of your life, make it this one. It follows the lives of roughly 10 NZ/ANZAC soldiers and gives lots of context behind them, complete with mini-theaters that provide commentary and personal narratives. But by far the most impressive part of the design were the figurines. Weta Workshops designed all the statues and props. Weta is also a studio that you know of, even if you don't know that you know of them. They did props, make up, and costumes for all the Lord of The Rings movies, plus many other prominent films. Weta designed figures from the war that are 2.4 times normal scale, so they are massive, and yet, the most realistic looking museum figurines I have ever seen:

 Wellington. Welly. Wellywood. Whatever you call the city, I wanted to include a picture and short description. Take a tropical jungle. Picture it in your head. Make that jungle right next to a bay. Now, build a city amongst that jungle. Now you are envisioning Wellington. Boom, here's proof, but Google images will yield better results so try that too:

Language:     The last letter of the alphabet has long been known to me to be pronounced as "zee"... well... no more. Anglo descended societies like England, Australia and NZ all say "zed" (hence the subject of this email). This may seem a trifle issue, but when interviewing and I mispronounce the names of 2 of their biggest 4 banks, it's worth trying to remember how they talk the letters good, not like dumb Cam say thing. I've heard Kiwis pronounce assume as 'ashoom', and when they say garage it sounds more like the name Garrett, but with the 'j' sound at the end. My absolute favourite new word is 'Ute'. If you don't know what a Ute is, take a pickup truck, shrink it down, and cross-breed it with an El Camino. They are truly a hideous vehicle and I love them. Here's a Wiki page on it - and here's a picture of one:

Isn't it a beaut (which happens to rhymes with Ute)! Cam's VoKIWIbulary Corner

Kiwi word first and then the normal person translation

  • Holiday = Vacation

  • Bach = Vacation Home

  • Lollies = Candy

  • Trundler/ Trolley = Shopping Cart 

   LC and I wanted to make positive contributions to this world and after careful deliberation, brainstorming and spending countless hours together, here's what we came up with:     Due to the fact that vacation isn't the common term for going away some where, the idea of 'Staycation' is very foreign to Kiwis. To fill this niche we came up with the term 'Holistaytion'... it's a work in progress. Please reserve your judgments. 

  That's all for now. As always, let me know if there's anywhere, anyone, or anything you want more of. If you want pictures because the words get in the way, just say so. I also want to mention that if you enjoy reading things that are eligible and much more thoughtful than my chicken scratch, LC has a blog. In addition to having a blog, she's a much better writer, albeit with a heavy emphasis on knitting. So give that a look-see: Cheers! The Yankiwi

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