New Zealand: A Crash Course

Today I’m following in the lovely Juniper’s footsteps and providing a crash course on New Zealand. I know a lot of Persephoneers have expressed an interest in visiting New Zealand one day, so here are a few things that are handy to know.

Waitangi Day. Held on 6th of February, it commerates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and some Maori iwi (tribes). The Treaty ostensibly established British governorship of New Zealand, recognised Maori land rights, and gave Maori the rights of British subjects. However it didn’t really end up that way and now Waitangi Day is often more notable for protests and controversy than anything else. It’s also my sister’s birthday, so is often referred to (by her) as Nicole Day.

Chur Bro. Slang for “cheers brother,” used as a way of saying thanks. Cheers and ta are used in the same vein.

Tea. Dinner. “I’m going to cook steak for tea tonight”.

Kia Ora. Maori greeting. Other greetings are tÄ“nā koe (hello to one person),tÄ“nā kōrua (hello to two people), tÄ“nā kotou (hello to three or more people) and mōrena (good morning). Another helpful phrase to have up your sleeve is kei te pÄ“ha koe? This means how are you? The response to it is normally kei te pai, which is I’m good

Choice. Term often used in the same way as awesome, as in “This ice cream is choice!”

Lord of the Rings. Famous film trilogy filmed in New Zealand by Sir Peter Jackson. For LOTR fans, a trip to Hobbiton in Matamata, the Weta Cave in Miramar, Wellington (where Weta Workshops are based) and Mt Potts Station in the South Island High Country (location for Edoras) are musts.

North Island and South Island. The two main islands where the vast majority of the population live. The South Island is bigger but has less people living there (about quarter of the population). Other islands to be aware of are Stewart Island (at the bottom of the South Island), Waiheke Island in the Auckland Harbour and the Chatham Islands, the most easterly point of New Zealand.

Maori Legends. Maori culture has a strong oral element and this is best shown through their legends. The most famous hero is Maui, who fished up the North Island using the South Island as a canoe and Stewart Island as his anchor, caught the sun using his Grandma’s jawbone and stole fire. He was pretty badass.

New Zealand food. Fish “˜n’ chips  are the most favoured take away in New Zealand. Nothing can beat fish “˜n’ chips on a Friday night. We eat Crunchie Bars, Pinky Bars and Moro Bars and if we find ourselves at the marae (Maori meeting house), we may get a hangi (meat and vegetable cooked underground over a fire).

Close to the sea. The furthest you can be from the sea is about 120 km (74 miles), which is in Central Otago in the South Island. However if you are in Central Otago, you’re likely to be not very far from a lake if you need a large body of water to stare at.

Queenstown. “Adventure Capital of the World,” Queenstown is where A.J. Hackett popularised bungy jumping with his first commercial operation on the Kawerau Bridge. There you can also go paraponting, luging, jetboating, skiing, snowboarding and anything else your heart desires. For more sedate activities, there is a steam boat and quite good shopping.

Women’s rights. First country to give universal suffrage to women! Abortion is also legal (in a weird way). Two doctors must agree that the health of the mother or fetus is at risk if the pregnancy continues. Most doctors will agree that the mother’s mental health is at risk if the pregnancy continues, so abortions are rarely denied. Contraception is readily available and often subsidised by Pharmac, the Government body which subsidises various medications.

Politics. New Zealand is part of the Commonwealth and our head of state is Queen Elizabeth II. She has a representative in New Zealand called the Governor-General who signs laws on her behalf. We follow the Westminster Parliamentary system, except we have a unicameral Parliament, that is only one House, the House of Representatives. The main political parties are National and Labour, but due to our Mixed Member Proportional voting system, for one of those parties to govern they generally have to enter into coalition Governments. The current Prime Minister is John Key, the leader of the National Party.

Christchurch. Main city of the South Island, struck by major devastating quakes on 4 September 2010 and 22 February 2011. The residents of Christchurch and the greater Canterbury area have suffered through thousands of aftershocks. The Central Business District suffered huge amounts of damage in the February 2011 quake and it has recently been announced that the iconic Christ Church Cathedral will be demolished. It will take many years for Christchurch to recover.

Actors. Anna Paquin, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Karl Urban, Martin Henderson, Lucy Lawless, Zoe Bell, Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie, Marton Csokas, Melanie Lynskey, Sam Neil, Alan Dale, Cliff Curtis and Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett in Star Wars Episode II:Attack of the Clones) are all Kiwis and proudly so. I could put Russell Crowe in this list, but he’s really Australian.

Musicians. OMC, Ladyhawke, everyone’s new love Kimbra, Crowded House, Bret and Jemaine (well they act and sing!), Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Hayley Westenra, Keith Urban (better known as Mr. Nicole Kidman) and Zed, who were my favourite band as a pre-teen and provided music for “The Hot Chick” soundtrack.

Population. There are 4.4 million inhabitants of New Zealand. One-third of the population live in Auckland. People of European descent make up 69% of the population, Maori make up 14%, Asians 9.2% and Pacific Islanders 6.9% of the population. We used to talk about being a bi-cultural country, what we should be talking about now is being a multi-cultural company.

Other famous places that everyone should visit. Taupo (has a big lake), Rotorua (also has a lake, smells like farts), Milford Sound, the Malborough Sounds, Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, the Coromandal Peninsula, the Bay of Islands.

That is just some of what New Zealand has to offer, I’ve barely scratched the surface! Any questions, chuck them in the comments.

By Cesy

Cesy grew up in a sheep farm in New Zealand. Accordingly some of her views are a bit strange.

36 replies on “New Zealand: A Crash Course”

New Zealand is the best!! Since coming back from honeymoon there I’m entertaining this mad plan to get a job at a Kiwi uni and move out there and watch rugby all the time and eat chips and endless quantities of sweet, sweet seafood (I will never get over green-lipped mussels, our mussels are so inferior!).

We named our dog Kia Ora (even though only brother and I are the real Kiwis, tswah!). And today I was looking for tickets to fly back after ten years. A girl can dream. Besides that I like to add that when I tell people where I’m from, they act like I dropped from paradise. People, it’s just another country with very pretty scenery/surroundings and normal (maybe sometimes a tad nicer) people.

Oh man, I have to do the Tongariro Crossing. I haven’t been over to Taupo yet but it’s not too far from here.

I have to be a bit of a nerd here, but Mt John is in South Canterbury :) I grew up about an hour from there, Tekapo is possibly my most favourite place in existence. Also if you see a grumpy little man called Matt at Mt John, say hi to him, he’s Mr. Cesy’s old flatmate!

No worries! It does get a bit confusing up in the High Country as to what belongs where. The boundary between Canterbury and Otago is the Waitaki River which is a few hundred kms away.

Oooh lovely photos, I have to do it now!

They are! I’m pretty up on the politics but the history is something I really should learn more about. I was taught no NZ history at high school, which is weird since  I was THE history nerd. I was really good on Tudor England though.

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