Photo: Jon Lauriat/Shutterstock

How to Piss Off a Kiwi

New Zealand
by Ethan Walker Apr 29, 2013

In bringing this challenge to the streets of Raglan, some Kiwis insisted that it was just “not possible,” that any attempts would “only entertain us.” Recent statistics do indicate that Kiwis are second only to Icelanders in how welcoming they are to foreigners.

Others asked me, “Who do you want to piss off? Māori or Pākehā (Māori or White)?” Māori (descendants of early Polynesian settlers) comprise nearly a fifth of the population. To this I emphatically replied, “Everyone. I want to piss off everyone.”

Assume New Zealand is Australia.

Traveling Kiwis get this a lot, even though New Zealand is not even close to Australia in terms of culture, geography, or history.

The air distance between them is huge, for one: 2,160km from Sydney to Auckland — about the same as London to Moscow. Australia is an island-continent comprised largely of desert with a population of 22 million. New Zealand has only 4.4 million people spread throughout two main landmasses consisting of subalpine mountain ranges and fjords in the south, and volcanic terrain in the north.

“A crucial difference,” according to New Zealand historian and author of The Making of New Zealanders Ron Palenski, “was that Māori were legally acknowledged, if not totally embraced. Māoris were not wholly marginalized as Aboriginals were in Australia,” which, he wrote, became “a positive point of difference between the New Zealand and, especially, the Australian colonies.”

Yes, indeed — Australians are, by comparison, chalky white mass murderers.

As one Kiwi explained, “Being called Australian is like being mistaken for your big brother who’s a racist asshole — like mistaking a Canadian for an American. He’s your brother, and you love him. But he’s got bad habits, and you’re ashamed to call him your brother because he’s giving your family a bad name.”

If you meet a Kiwi abroad, try this line of questioning: “You guys got kangaroos over there? Tasmanian devils? What are the Aboriginals like? New Zealand. Isn’t that where the boomerang is from?”

Call them sheep fuckers.

At the moment New Zealand has around 31 million sheep — around seven per person — but that’s just a third of what it was 25 years ago, since land use has shifted more towards cattle, deer, and viticulture in recent years. If you want to get them pissed, you might remind them that despite this change, their love for sheep remains.

Make sure to ask them where their velcro gloves are — the ones they use to grasp a sheep at the hips from behind, while trapping it face-first against a cliffside, after they’ve chucked the sheep’s hind legs into their gumboots to keep it still. This is just one of the myriad sheep jokes against New Zealand — Australians famously dish these out.

Take the Vagina Liner.

Also known as “The Big Red Fuck Bus” among cheekier Kiwis, it’s officially called The Stray Bus. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the company or their guided hop-on hop-off tours, where they book the accommodation and activities. The problem is when young, naive, loud partiers with too much cash ride from town to town looking for nothing more than booze and sex, leaving only litter and receipts in their wake.

These are the type that book everything from a laptop overseas and come with a list of things to “do” that can’t really be “done” — like “the South Island.”

The more refined version of this would be the Chinese tourists busing around in timid hordes, stopping only to take dumps and photograph roadsides.

New Zealand is one of the southernmost countries in the world, with no land borders, at a hefty distance from anywhere else. To an extent this breeds curiosity and kindness, and most would agree that Kiwis want to get to know travelers. They appreciate new, interesting people in their communities. According to one local, “We’re just really curious, because we are so far away from everything else. One of the ways we feel like we’re somewhere else is to meet people from other countries. Most Kiwis really want to travel, just like anyone, but it’s a lot harder from here.”

Avoid them, then, to upset them — do not befriend them under any circumstances. And tour the country in the Vag Liner on a shameless alcohol binge.

Belittle rugby.

Rugby union is the national sport in New Zealand. It is very popular. There are big rivalries between high school teams and recreational teams in most parts of the country. The All Blacks are New Zealand’s international all-star team, and are the current holder of the Rugby World Cup. Many games are broadcast nationally, and a good one often translates to wild nights in the pubs.

The US has a team too, but the word on the street in New Zealand is that they suck. That, and that “gridiron football” (American football) is for softies. So take a strong pro-gridiron stance. According to one Kiwi, “Rugby players don’t need helmets.” They just go ahead and break their necks.

Argue that rugby has been championed by primitive cannibals unable to strategize, and that it should be forgotten. That will get them spouting all sorts of things back at you.

Ridicule their national bird.

Is it a coincidence that a nation who pride themselves on being “modest” also have for their national symbol an awkward bird which cannot fly and bumbles around in the night with its head pecking the ground? Compare this to the raptorial eagles of Germany or the US. Even Peru’s Cock-of-the-rock is bold by comparison.

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