This article is continuation of Who are Kiwis, Part I?
Kiwis, the human form, are known all over the world for their kind natures. They are laid-back, very friendly and always willing to have a good time. Kiwis in general are extremely helpful, of course there is always an exception to the rule. But I ask in what other country can you safely run out of petrol in your car (in the middle of the road) and before you have recovered from the shock, stop pounding your steering wheel in frustration and embarrassment, and are out the door to push your car to the side of the road so you can sulk in private, will you find there are two or three fellow Kiwis in front of you ready to push your car and offer to go and get a canister of petrol for you from the local petrol station? Only in New Zealand is such a sight greeted with a big smile, a click of the tongue and a friendly ‘How you doing mate?’ or ‘Ran out did we?’
I remember coming to someone else’s rescue not so long ago. Yes, granted, some Kiwis try and make their cars do miraculous things (more of the ‘what were they thinking’ kind?), but it provides you with a chuckle and brightens your day providing no one is hurt. There is a fantastic beach near our house, where we are found quite often, and from experience I know NOT to drive the car over the sand bars that develop on the road during windy days. Apparently this knowledge isn’t shared by all whom live in Invercargill, because on this particular day I parked the car as usual and smiled as a saw a family of 4 enjoying the beach. As I got closer I noticed the Male of the family crouched down in front of his car with his 5 year old plastic spade trying desperately to remove sand from his front wheels. His very pregnant wife was in the driver’s seat trying to convince the car to move just another inch. The male of the family greeted me with the standard Kiwi greeting ‘How you doing?’ to which I wittedly replied ‘better than you by the looks of things’. The sheepish smile on his face made me laugh.
After a few feeble attempts to push the car back onto the road his wife emerged from the car and gave me a look only a woman knows (the famous ‘I told him not to but he didn’t listen’ look), she then proceeded to tell me she was overdue to have her baby and really didn’t want to have it here on the beach! That spurred us all into action and a tow rope magically appeared from the back of the car and together we managed to get the car back on solid ground.
For the rest of the day I was reminded just how friendly, trusting and down to earth most Kiwis are. All four children had played so nicely together in the sand dunes while us adults shared a laugh and a chat afterwards and wished each other well before departing in our own direction.
Generally speaking, it’s not at all difficult to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger in New Zealand and then be promptly invited to a ‘do’ in the process. The Kiwi ‘do’ will most likely be a BBQ in the summer or a dinner in the winter. We are a nation of outdoor people, we love a good old get together, any excuse will do, we like to eat and we like to laugh. A traditional Kiwi dinner would be off course ‘The Hangi’.
A Hangi is a Maori method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a oven pit (yes, in the ground). It is still used today for special occasions, but in New Zealand we don’t need much of a special occasion, any occasion to have friends and family over is a special occasion. To ‘lay a hangi’ simply involves digging a hole, heating the stones in the hole with a large fire, placing baskets of food on top of the stones and covering everything with earth for several hours before ’lifting’ the hangi. Then the Kiwi cry of ‘dig in everyone’ will be heard as in invitation to eat. Many Hangi experts have developed methods that, like the stones used, have been handed down for generations, while others just make it up as they go along with some spectacular results.
To be invited to a Hangi is truly a pleasure, because the food, like the people and the stories you’ll hear, are truly unique to New Zealand.
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’.