How to tell if you're a New Zealander
by Gareth Wilson
The latest response to the American culture test.
New Zealand is that little slice of a country somewhere near Australia.
I've greyed out items that are identical to England.
Gareth lives in Christchurch on the South Island, and works as a technician in a
molecular biology laboratory. His hobbies are reading, the Internet, and
half-finishing constructed languages.
If you're a New Zealander...
Pragmatism with flakey edges
- You're not a republican. You only notice the Royal family when one of their scandals hits the covers of the women's magazines, or when one of them pays a visit.
- You're familiar with all the US and British pop culture references relevant to your age group. Most of the TV and movies you watch and the popular music you listen to come from either the US or Britain.
- Depending on your age, you'll be familar with the Howard Morrison Quartet, Billy T. James, Tim and Neil Finn, Crowded House, Purest Form, Fur Patrol, Bic Runga, and Johnny Devlin. On TV you'd instantly recognise Paul Holmes, Judy Bailey, Richard Long, John Campbell, Carol Hirshfield, the Topp Twins, Lucy Lawless, and Keith Quinn.
- You're not interested in baseball, basketball, or American football. If you're male you know everything there is to know about rugby union, and possibly rugby league as well.
You may have played soccer at school but you don't follow it as a spectator.
- You go to church for weddings and funerals, and possibly have a vague belief in God, but anyone talking excessively about religion is suspected of being mentally unstable.
- You think of McDonald's, Burger King, KFC etc. as cheap food.
- You own a telephone, a TV, and probably a car, which you drive on the left side of the road.
You're bemused that affluent looking New Yorkers on American TV don't own a car.
Your place is heated in winter and has its own bathroom. You do your laundry in a machine and don't kill your own food. You don't have a dirt floor. You eat at a table, sitting on chairs.
- You don't consider insects, dogs, cats, monkeys, or guinea pigs to be food. You consider juvenile fish ("whitebait") -fried whole, including the head and eyes- to be a delicacy, though.
- You usually refer to the smallest room as the "toilet". You understand a reference to the "bathroom", but would use that for the (possibly separate) room where you take a bath.
How New Zealand beat the Nazis
- It seems natural to you that the telephone system, railroads, airlines, and power companies are privately run, and that there aren't any auto manufacturers any more. You might be concerned that all these companies are owned by foreigners, but you can't see things changing.
- You expect, as a matter of course, that the phones will work. Getting a new phone is routine.
- You hardly ever travel by train. If you commute, it's by car or bus.
- You probably find a two-party system natural, and think of the recent change to proportional representation as giving too much power to flakey minor parties, even though you may have voted for it.
- You don't expect to hear socialism seriously defended. Plenty of people hate capitalism but they never give any coherent alternative.
- You think most problems could be solved if only people would put aside their prejudices and work together.
- You take a strong court system for granted, even if you don't use it. You know that if you went into business and had problems with a customer, partner, or supplier, you could take them to court.
- You probably learnt a bit of French or German at high school, or Japanese if the principal took Michael Crichton too seriously, but everyone speaks English nowadays, so what's the point of learning foreign languages? You certainly know the Maori greeting "kiaora", and maybe a handful of other words. You can't speak Maori, even if you're of Maori descent yourself.
- You think a tax level of 33% for high earners is reasonable.
- School is free through high school, university is heavily subsidised but still expensive. You may not have gone to university - it's not considered absolutely necessary as long as you have some other route into employment.
- Mustard comes in jars. Shaving cream comes in cans. Milk comes in glass bottles delivered to your door, or in cardboard cartons.
How New Zealand beat Sauron
- The date comes first: 6/2/1840, and you know what happened on that date.
- The decimal point is a dot, not a comma.
- World War I was a terrible tragedy, where incompetent British generals sent New Zealanders to be slaughtered at Gallipoli.
- World War II was a just war, where Britain suffered terribly until the New Zealanders defeated the Germans at El Alamein and turned the tide. You probably have a relative who fought in the war.
- You expect marriages to be made for love, not arranged by third parties.
Most marriages happen in church, and there's no additional secular ceremony required.
You have a best man and several bridesmaids. A man gets only one wife at a time.
- If a man has sex with another man, he's a homosexual.
- You call everyone by their first name, from the Prime Minister down.
- If you're a women, you certainly wouldn't go to the beach topless.
- You seriously expect to be able to transact business, or deal with the government, without paying bribes.
- If a politician has been cheating on his wife, you'd lose a lot of respect for him but wouldn't necessarily expect him to resign. The slightest hint of anything illegal, though, and you'd expect him to be sacked immediately.
- You can use your ATM card to make electronic purchases at stores and even withdraw money from their cash registers. Therefore you carry only a small amount of cash and use credit cards only for major purchases or for ordering things over the Internet.
- A company can mostly fire who it wants.
- Labour Day is a holiday, and is always called Labour Day, not a "Bank Holiday".
Everyone gets at least three weeks holiday a year.
Because your sheep deserves the very best
- You have a slightly sheepish pride in the success of the New Zealand film industry.
You're familiar with Came a Hot Friday, Once Were Warriors, The Piano, Bad Taste, Heavenly Creatures, Goodbye Pork Pie, Sleeping Dogs, and The Navigator.
- Privatization of the public health service is absolutely unthinkable. You can count on excellent medical treatment in an emergency, but you vaguely expect a wait of decades for anything non-urgent. You might have private health insurance to get around this. You think of the health service as run-down and shambolic, yet you know you're not going to die of any Third World disease. Dying at 65 would be a tragedy.
- You went over some New Zealand history at school, and very little from anywhere else.
- You used to hear about the military only when the wings fell off their planes or the Army couldn't shoot a wild dog. Now you get touching images of peacekeepers in a place you couldn't find on the map. You can't name any New Zealand military figure (except for WWII hero Charles Upham and Private Leonard Manning, who was shot dead by militia in East Timor). You don't expect the military to get involved in politics.
- Your country has never been conquered by a foreign nation, ever. The Maori might disagree, but it wasn't a country back then, right?
- You're used to a wide variety of choices for almost anything you buy.
- The metric system feels completely natural to you, from the 1-litre soft drink bottles to the 1-kilogram blocks of cheese.
Next year, can we have gazpacho?
- You are not a farmer. Farming is a very prominent industry, though. There are advertisements for sheep drenches on prime time TV, and politicians blame recessions on the weather. You probably know someone with either a full-scale farm or a small "lifestyle block".
- The people who appear on talk shows are entertainers, authors, or social campaigners of one sort or another.
- You think of the French as villains who explode nuclear bombs in your neighborhood (neighborhood being defined as "same ocean")
- The English are emotionally repressed snobs who feed weird stuff to their cows instead of plain grass.
- Americans are grossly obese, nauseatingly sentimental, arrogant sex maniacs. You've gained this impression via careful study of the Jerry Springer Show, Full House, and Dallas.
- Australians are even more arrogant than Americans, but slimmer. They're constantly taking credit for New Zealand stuff, everything from Russell Crowe to pavlova. They have strange fashion sense, favoring pink shirts and gold jewelry, at least for men.
- The police are not routinely armed, but they can get a gun fairly easily.
- If a woman is plumper than average, it doesn't improve her looks.
- The biggest meal of the day is in the evening.
- The nationality people most often makes jokes about is the Australians.
- There might be parts of the city you want to avoid at night, depending on the city.
Off with their wigs!
- You feel ordinary people aren't being listened to up in Wellington (or down in Wellington, depending on where you are). You count as "ordinary people", of course.
- You wouldn't expect both inflation and unemployment to be very high (over 10%) at the same time.
- You don't care what family someone comes from. You do care what they do for a living.
- The normal thing, when a couple dies, is for their estate to be divided equally between their children.
- You think of opera, ballet, and theater as elite entertainments, except for children's theater and comedies like Lady's Night.
- Christmas is in the summer. Unless you're Hindu or Muslim, you spend it with your family, give presents, and put up a tree. You also eat a roast turkey dinner in the blazing noon heat and lie around semi-comatose all afternoon.
- You can't remember when any church had any political influence.
- You can name the leaders of Britain, the US, and Australia. You couldn't name the leader of any Pacific or Asian country, except maybe for Jiang Zemin.
- You've left a message at the beep.
- Taxis are operated by slightly shady characters who charge outrageous prices.
- You think the Welfare State is a necessary part of civilized society.
- If you want to be a doctor, you have to get a master's first.
- Lawyers spend their time either cheating people out of their life savings or defending criminal scumbags. Barristers recently stopped wearing wigs and gowns.
- You'll apologise if you're a few minutes late for an appointment, and being an hour late is inexcusable.
- When talking to someone, you get uncomfortable if they approach closer than two feet.
- The only things you expect to bargain for are cars, houses, and things sold at garage sales.
- The only times when it's acceptable to show up at someone's place without prior arrangement are when you've had a car accident or your spouse has thrown you out of the house.
- When negotiating, you generally say what you think and get straight to the point, but you also try not to appear too arrogant.
- If you have an appointment with someone, you expect to have that person all to yourself and the business shouldn't take more than an hour or so.