So here’s a thing. well two things. This is about us, not our nature, but our nature. I’m also going to put a couple of images of the incredible New Zealand scenery among the comments. Silly not to really, it’s not like I’m short of them, all you have to is go outside and point a camera in one direction or another.
New Zealand is the most beautiful country on earth. Everybody knows that, everybody knows about the incredible ‘nature’ in New Zealand.
I’m going to talk about the nature of New Zealanders for a while instead.
I posted a tweet a while ago that was the most re-tweeted thing I’ve put on that particular platform. It seemed innocuous enough at the time, but it struck a chord. People most associate us with ‘G’day’, or ‘no worries’ or ‘she’ll be right’. All of these are common parlance but we have a new word now. It’s the most used word I’ve heard since returning to New Zealand from England, it was a close call between this particular word and aioli which is the next most common word in New Zealand. I’d never seen the stuff anywhere in England, but in New Zealand, try getting through a day without hearing about it. Good luck.
The tweet went as follows
‘If you are visiting New Zealand, it’s worth knowing that the word for thank you is ‘Awesome’. It’s also the word for yes please’
Awesome, we pronounce it oarsum, is ubiquitous. Everything is oarsum. Even an order of a cup of coffee is greeted with oarsum. Did you know we have more cafe’s per capita in Wellington than anywhere else in the world? New Zealanders run on coffee it seems. We all know our flat whites from our mochachino’s and latte’s. The Barista is a highly respected trade in our little country, like the cool cocktail barman of the 80’s.
When I was in the UK, returning holiday makers from NZ would comment to me on the incredible beauty of the country quickly followed by a remark on the friendliness of the New Zealanders. Let me tell you what that looks like now that I’ve driven from one end of the country to the other and back since I’ve returned. I went for a bit of a road trip to have a look around. You know the most common greeting when you walk into a shop here?
“Hey, how’s it going?’
It’s not a throw away line either, they really want to know. You as the customer greet the friendly shop person with the equally truthful “oarsum thanks”. Oarsum can also be a usual response to an enquiry after your general wellbeing, which is worded, “hey how are ya?” If you are more circumspect by nature and not actually oarsum, your response to “hey how’s it going”, or “hey how are ya?” Will be ‘Aw yeah, no worries’.
Once you’ve engaged the shop person in general chat about the weather, where you’ve come from, and the latest bit of significant news of the day, you’ll be asked if you require any assistance in making some sort of a purchase, this will be worded along the lines of ‘“so do you need a hand with anything?” to which you will reply with either a polite negative as you are fine and just looking or an affirmative that you would in fact appreciate some assistance. In New Zealand, the phrase for no is “aww yeah, nah” and we already know that yes please is “oarsum’.
Another phrase you will hear a lot in New Zealand is “no, really, it’s no trouble at all” as the next stage of something you’ve suddenly discovered you need help with. The help is usually offered before you’ve asked for it, nor even thought you might. The “no really, it’s no trouble at all” will be in response to your perfectly normal and expressed desire not to put anyone to any trouble with your particular issue and you’ve demurred when offered the help.
Kiwi’s are very helpful you see. We help each other, a lot. Convivial, and helpful by nature. When you are at the far end of the world you tend to need to pitch in together and if someone has made all that effort to come and visit us on their holidays, well they’ll need more help as they are far from home. They are at our home and will be made to feel welcome. We want to make sure they enjoy themselves at our place. The scenery will take care of itself, the people you meet along the way make the journey between the scenery that much more oarsum.
We New Zealanders are rightly very proud of our country but we aren’t by nature a demonstrative bunch. We as a people tend to be understated, not hard wired to great shows of patriotism from birth like the Americans or Aussies. We don’t tend to hang flags out of our home or car windows or tearfully clutch a hand to our chest when we hear the national anthem. But when our countryfolk achieve great things out in the world? Then we’ll let you know all about it. We’ll take on the ‘Team New Zealand’ mantle. We support our people wearing a silver fern taking on the world.
The rest of the time we quietly go about our lives on our little cluster of islands deep in the South Pacific, but punching way above our collective weight on the world stage. We are a nationally curious mix of dry humour and creativity. Adventurous and industrious with a good dose of old fashioned common sense. Our countrymen and women have achieved incredible things out in the world, from sport, across science, politics, culture, the arts and environmentalism. You’ll see and hear of New Zealanders everywhere you look. We are a nation of just four and a half million. There are currently 45 cities in the world with a population greater than our entire country.
We know we are at the far end of anywhere living a precarious existence in the most volatile geographic region on earth. Did you know that two of the three most cataclysmic volcanic eruptions of the last 500,000 years were in New Zealand? I don’t mean little puffs like Mt St Helens or Mt Pinatubo. I mean blasts not far short of extinction events. Yes. that big. Look!
We have breathtaking natural beauty, like nowhere else. We have more climatic regions in New Zealand than anywhere else. We live in a place of extraordinary geography and geology, flora and fauna but what you will notice time and time again, as you drive from one oarsum landscape to the next is the warmth of the New Zealanders. Just don’t expect too much conversation if there are some of our countrymen taking on the world wearing a silver fern on their sports equipment at the time. Oh we’ll still help you of course, but you’ll have to understand what it means to be a part of ‘Team New Zealand’. You’ll most likely want to become part of it too. That’s what makes this country special.
It’s not just about the view. The Nature of New Zealand is unique of course, but so is the nature of the New Zealander, it’s a way of life here.
If you are contemplating or planning a visit, it’ll be oarsum to see you.