I was going to tell you about some famous New Zealand personalities but then thought I’d be better off to give you a glimpse of the ordinary, everyday Kiwis that can be found all over this great little country of ours.
The people of New Zealand are usually referred to as ‘kiwis’, because of our lack of flying the coup overseas like so many other nationalities, and also because sometimes we are a strange bunch! We have a clear definition of what life is about, how we go about our daily lives, what we enjoy and what we don’t like. And seeing the real Kiwi bird has over many years developed very distinct physical features to survive in New Zealand, us human Kiwis have done the same, but perhaps more in the behavior and not in the physical sense. But we are proud to be called Kiwis.
So just who are Kiwis? What do they like? What do they do? What do they think? That last question I cannot answer, but one thing I know we all agree on is that we are proud to be Nuclear Free, we all treasure our natural resources, our vast clean landscape, our way of living, our children and value our family ties. I guess I should start by explaining a little about New Zealand first. Like ‘where on earth are we?’
New Zealand is located in Oceania, Southeast of Australia; thankfully nowadays most people no longer believe we are ‘part’ of Australia. This ‘lumping’ together with the Aussies is a sore point for many Kiwis and Aussies alike, but in saying that, throw a Kiwi and an Aussie into some far away land and we have a tendency to find each other, stick up for each other and call the other ‘mate’.
New Zealand has two main Islands; North Island and South Island, with some near on-shore islands and smaller outlying islands including Chatham Islands, Kermadec Islands, Auckland Islands and Steward Island (that’s the little one right at the bottom). Considering the total land area is 268,670 square Km (or 103,733 square miles), which is about the size of the state of Colorado, the population of 4,315,800 has plenty of room to spread their wings (but Kiwi birds don’t have wings, so we spread out with farms instead). The beach, ocean and water in general, are all a big part of the kiwi culture and most of us feel great affinity with the ocean. Boating, fishing, swimming all are big features in the lives of Kiwis. So it’s a good thing our coastline stretches for a whopping 15,134 km (or 9,404 miles).
The Kiwi population is made up of many different faces, cultures and religions but that is just another aspect of being a Kiwi that makes us unique. British sovereignty was proclaimed over New Zealand and many of the early settlers were indeed from the United Kingdom, but we now have a lovely blend of cultures that call New Zealand home. Significantly new population came from Asia, especially from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and India. Throw all these together with the Pacific people and you have a true blend of New Zealand culture. But again, New Zealand is unique in that despite the population number, it has an average of only 13 people per square km. Us kiwis are not by any means evenly distributed, most favor the North Island (about three-quarters of the population), with one-third in the largest city of Auckland. More than half of new immigrants settle in Auckland, but these new Kiwis are slowly trickling down to the rest of the country.
So, again, just who are Kiwis? What do they like? What do they do? What do they think? I’ll tackle some of those questions in ‘Who Are Kiwis – Part II’.
About the Author:
Monica Toretto is a writer, painter, photographer and blogger. She lives with her two young sons in Invercargill near Bluff. She has travelled widely in Canada and the US and worked as a veterinary technician before returning to New Zealand. Her work has appeared in several magazines in the UK and New Zealand. She has also authored a book of poetry and photography called ‘Words’.