Real Kiwi in an orange Jacket

Bruce mason centre in Takapuna is buzzing. Lots of people: old, young, families, couples, all sorts. 450 of them. All very excited. As am I! And no this is not for a concert, or a comedy night. We are all here because we want to be and will be NZ citizens after tonight’s ceremony.
I am going to be a real kiwi!! After living here for 9 years and feeling more and more passionate about this beautiful country, I thought it was time to show my true allegiance.

So the final stage tonight is standing up, reading the allegiance together with all those others from so many different parts of the world. And we all want to live in NZ.

And singing the National Anthem for the first time as citizens. Wow, I really wasn’t expecting the emotion. Almost every second sentence I just had to stop. To stop the trembling. And to understand what the words really meant. ‘ At thy feet’ .. ?

Very special. I am looking forward to my kiwi future, to contributing to the future of NZ.

Not without my orange jacket though…


Outworn Graduation gowns



Its uni graduation time in Auckland. There are black gowns everywhere. Students looking like they are by no means ready to enter the labour market are celebrating their uni degree by dressing up in a long black gown and a cap and parading through the mains streets of Auckland.

NZ is a lucky country. Basically everybody who wants to, can go to university. Yes you’ll build up a debt, but unemployment in NZ  is pretty low, so you can pay that off pretty quickly afterwards. There are degrees in all sorts of areas that would not necessarily have been seen as academic years ago and are still not in most European countries. It doesn’t mean the skill learned is not valuable. It maybe should just not be a uni degree nor should it follow the academic traditions like the formal graduations. The only reason it does is because tradition is just applied : we’ve always done it this way.

For some reason NZ likes their education traditions. Take all the incredibly ‘important’ school gala’s, where girls are expected to basically dress as if they are getting married, with all hairdo, nail polish and expensive limousine transfers bells and whistles attached. The amount of grief and unnecessary expense it causes! Becaue if you’re not there dressed as a princess, you are ‘missing out’. And this is not only at the last year of high school, there are at least 3 years you have to go.
The other week somebody told me there was a formal graduation ceremony they had to attend from day care with presents and all. Really?

I can see this is my practical down to earth Dutch mind at work here. The mind that questions traditions for traditions sake, all having to dress in the same uniform (and paying big bucks for it too) because heaven forbid individual expressions amongst a group and yes, mandated unnecessary expenses too.

I am very happy for all of them that they have passed their exams. Education is fantastic and  achievements should be celebrated. But do they really have to be so traditional, so regulated and so costly and commercial? Go celebrate, do it your way and not because others tell you to put on that outworn gradation gown again.

Zest-zone New Zealand


Is it coincidence that zest is related to orange and to a life full of energy, passion and enthusiasm? And that these zestful oranges grow so well in New Zealand?  I don’t think so.

New Zealand is made for zestful living and most New Zealanders definitely seem to do so.   According to the OECD happy life index more then 83% of New Zealanders say they have more positive then negative experiences every day in life.

And how could you not. Unemployment is very low, and although wages are not the highest in the world, money certainly can’t buy everything. Life expectancy is higher then the OECD average, and there are so many things to enjoy for free!  Go on hikes or mountain bike trails of any difficulty level, go fishing in rivers and the ocean, identify the Southern Cross in the brightest starry nights you have ever seen, explore active and dormant volcanoes, discover the shy but very cute native birds and marvel at trees as big as a large apartment building. The climate is great for the biggest part of the year to be able to enjoy the great outdoors. Even if it rains, it generally doesn’t last too long as clouds just fly over the fairly thin New Zealand land mass between the two oceans.

So no, I really don’t think it is a coincidence that you see so much Zest here.  New Zealand is just one big Zest zone.

Yeah right….

Humour is always one of the hardest thing to grasp when moving from one culture to another. And then even harder is trying to explain it.

Kiwis have a great sense of humour. It is subtle, very ironic. It definitely has links to English humour but has developed its own slant. It’s also undeniably different to Australian humour, which is a lot more blatant and brash. And of course in real Kiwi fashion, it’s often defusing, used to avoid conflict and calm the situation.

The Tui “yeah right” campaign that has been going for years shows off some great Kiwi humour. The campaign basically exists of billboards along the motorway that appear with short statements, that then get the full negative ironic “Yeah Right’ after it. To understand the statements you generally have to know what’s going on in the news at the time. although it can be generic too. A great recent example is

Yeah right billboard. owned by Tui breweries
Yeah right billboard. owned by Tui breweries

This appeared around the discussions on blaming the current trend to create a safer cycle environment for the traffic yams in Auckland.
Some other classics are: ” I’ll call you”, “I’ll do the dishes after the game” and ” Dad’s new husband seems nice”.

Dutch humour is impossible to explain, mostly because it depends so much on knowing the language. It does have irony and sarcasm in common with the kiwis though. And no, I am not ending this statement with “yeah right”!

Xenos no longer



There used to be ( probably still is) a retail chain in The Netherlands called ‘Xenos’. I loved having a nosey there, taking in all the strange and foreign things for sale. They had canned papaya, and different tropical sauces. They had bamboo mats and brightly coloured textiles. I can still remember the smell when going in there as even that was foreign.

Auckland is a bit like that. The multicultural world in Auckland is one of the things that makes living here such a great experience. In last year’s census 213 ethnicities were identified in NZ, more than official countries in the world! And this brings with it all the wonderfully different habits, words, tastes, produce, festivals, clothes, art, music and products.

And it is not unusual anymore in Auckland. Most local fruit shops in any suburb will have a selection of veggies, fruits and products to go with those that would not have looked out of place in the old Dutch Xenos. And a lot is not even imported anymore but grown and produced here on local NZ soil.

Xenos actually means foreign or strange. Which here in Auckland it is no longer.