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To be “a bit more like a New Zealander” means _____?

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, October 13th, 2010 - 12 comments
Categories: culture, identity - Tags:

So after all that hoo-ha I did have to think for a while what it means to look and sound like a New Zealander. My personal opinion is that for a lot of us there isn’t a particular look, but there probably is a sound.

I think that like the French, we tend to regard people as really kiwi by their accent, or their familiarity with kaiwai idioms and colloquialisms (because I’ve known many fiercely proud kiwis with so-called ‘foreign’ accents who’ve made New Zealand their home for decades but kept their country of origin accents).

Having said that, I’ve also known people who have none of those characteristics but are still so proud to call themselves kiwis that I figure that’s good enough for me too. So I guess it’s not that clear, although I am fairly clear that physiognomy and surnames aren’t very reliable predictors.

But that’s just me. Any thoughts?

12 comments on “To be “a bit more like a New Zealander” means _____?”

  1. You know how Key said that you’re a Kiwi if you consider yourself a Kiwi? Do you think they’ll apply that logic when deciding whether to deport those NZ-born kids back to India because their parents are overstayers?

  2. To be a bit more like a kiwi you have to accept that kiwis come in many different shapes shades and sizes.

  3. jbanks 3

    Having NZ citizenship is a fairly reliable indicator.

  4. Bill 4

    Not a kiwi. Never will be. ( Oh, I might take up citizenship to oil the wheels of departure to Australia….)

    Meanwhile, if New Zealand is so multi-cultural, then why is every news piece about these islands full of references to ‘kiwis’ and New Zealanders as though nobody self-identifying in any other way lived here?

    • Vicky32 4.1

      Giorgio Gaber has a song on YouTube ‘Non mi sento Italiano’ which means “I don’t feel Italian” – yet unfortunately he is, as he goes on to say.. . I suppose I am a New Zealander (I have citizenship, and I was born here, but I also have British citizenship and I identify with my English parent..) Even if I felt like a New Zealander, I am not a Kiwi, I will never be a Kiwi.. The kiwi eats, roots and leaves as my father said long before Lynne Truss did! 😀
      Why do New Zealanders want to be flightless birds?
      Deb

  5. ianmac 5

    When in Japan the people have a similarity of hair, skin colour and quiet politeness. It would be hard for a Kiwi to masquerade as Japanese. But in NZ there is such a huge mix of origin that a Japanese or Samoan or Indian or anyone, can easily fit in.
    Therefore a Kiwi one who is proud to live here and proud to be identified while overseas as a Kiwi regardless of ethnicity..

  6. grumpy 6

    and just to show that this argument is not as cut and dried as Standard contributors would like to think.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10680175

  7. Living overseas, I can tell you that expats quickly come to realise that one of the key characterictics that makes a NZer is concern for other people.

    Now I know that sounds terribly wet, but it’s true. I’ve had fellow expats prattle on about how great life is in Australia… and it is, provided you’ve got money and are self-sufficient.

    I always let them finish and then ask “Yeah, but if you’re ever in trouble… anything from broken down at the side of the road to needing a home…” and they look wistful and say “Ahhh yeah… in NZ someone would help me. Here…” and they shrug.

    Disclaimer: I’m told it’s different in the country, and even in cities not as affected by mining wealth. And given the response to crises like the “Black Saturday” fires, that’s probably right. But whereas if I needed a hand in any city in NZ I’d be confident I’d get it, here I’m only too aware that if I fall, I’ll be walked over by all but a few struggling charities.

  8. rainman 8

    I’m a Kiwi. Not born here, but been here long enough for it to be home. Will probably die here. When I go away, I come home to here. 100%.

    Paul Henry may say I look like a New Zealander. Many people think I’m British (I’m not, never been there – last ancestor who had was a grandparent, I think). On the score of being a Kiwi, I am emphatically a yes. (Although I draw the line at pronouncing drawing dror-ring, and I understand how to use less and fewer, number and amount :).

    Here’s the thing though: if you asked others who know me if I am a Kiwi, I don’t think more than 25% would clearly answer yes.

    • A Kiwi is a maori name for a endemic specis of bird. It is pronounced ‘ki-wi’ with short vowels.

      There is no such word as a ‘Kiiwii’ (with long vowels, as pronounced by pakeha) in the maori language.

      A New Zealander is a citizenship. I am AtiAwa-Tuhoe-Ngati Ruapani, i am not a “New Zealander” but i am a New Zealand Citizen based on my passport and ‘right’ to pay my taxes – yes maori pay taxes and rates too.
      Maori is not my ethnicity – that is the label the first Europeans used to lump us all together, effectively, the creation of a noun. The word ‘maori’ is a verb – it refers to something that is in a ‘natural’ (maori) state of being, i.e. wai-maori means ‘fresh-water’, ‘tangata-maori’ means a natural or ordinary man in his natural state.

      My ethnicity is my iwi (tribe).

      My paternal grandmother was from Toller Fratrum, Dorset, South West Coast of England. My roots there go back to Anglo-Saxon-Roman-Celtic-Pict-Duorotrige extractions over thousands of years. My ancestors built Stonehenge. Point? I am also English – with a New Zealand passport and citizenship.

      So what is a New Zealander? Anyone who wants to define themselves as such. Can there even be an anthropological context?

      i

  9. prism 9

    Rex makes good points. I lived in Oz some years back. I felt they were more materialistic and status conscious than NZ – in general. But Fred Dagg went over there and stayed. Perhaps he finds it a more fertile field for humour than NZ. He certainly can make a better living there.

    It may be that the features that have made NZ a better place to live than Oz despite their higher wages, will become eroded by the ‘leadership’ that our brave pollies, farmers and businesspeople are demonstrating. As standards and lifestyle are degraded many more than at present will weigh the two countries up and find that Oz actually is their choice offering the same or greater in most aspects of life.

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