1. “You’re from New Zealand? That’s cool. Actually I’ve always wanted to visit Australia.”
Good to know. Basically, this is the equivalent of saying “You’re from England? I’ve always wanted to visit Russia.” London to Moscow is the same distance as Melbourne to Auckland. Granted, there are more similarities between us than Britain and Russia, but my point is we are not the same country and despite what some people seem to think, we are not a stone’s throw away off the coast of Australia. I believe you’re thinking of Tasmania.
2. “You’re from New Zealand. That’s near Poland right?”
3. “New Zealand? But…aren’t you a bit…white to be from New Zealand.”
I am white; thank you for noticing. New Zealand is part of Oceania known for its warm Pacific nations such as Fiji and Samoa, but New Zealand was settled by a variety of ethnicities over the years including the original Maoris. In the 19th century, immigration began with the arrival of the British, Irish, Chinese, French, Dutch, Danish, Samoans, Tongans, and so on. NZ is what we like to call a multicultural country. You’re not going to be greeted by a beautiful Pacific Islander in a grass skirt as your step off your Air New Zealand flight at Auckland Airport. That’s not our tourist shtick. But make sure you buy a sheep magnet or woolly slippers before you leave!
4. “Does your toilet flush the wrong way like in Australia?”
That Simpsons episode has a lot to bloody answer for! And my response: “No, it flushes the right way.” Also, who spends that much time checking out which way their toilet flushes?
5. “Is it just like Lord of the Rings?”
Oh yes, hobbits be everywhere. But seriously, we have mountains and beautiful vistas and those are the same mountains and beautiful vistas that you see in the movie. So in a way, I guess New Zealand is exactly like Lord of the Rings.
6. “Can you eat kiwis?”
Well, you could if you wanted to go to jail for killing an endangered species. But come on, do North Americans eat bald eagles? Do the Chinese stew pandas? Do Brazilians roast the macaw? Do Scottish hunt and cook the unicorn? Do Australians grill kangaroos? Oh, okay, maybe that last one wasn’t the best example.
7. “Rugby doesn’t mean anything outside of New Zealand, you know.”
Maybe, but gridiron isn’t exactly setting the world on fire outside the US and how many people even know what the AFL is? Sport doesn’t need to be beloved internationally to be beloved in your home country. If that were true, no Irish person would bother playing hurling. And certainly no one would ever look at skeleton and think “Gosh, that’s the sport for me!”
8. “New Zealand has a lot of sheep, doesn’t it?”
We do! Although Australia has twice as many sheep, we have more sheep per capita than any other country in the world (excluding the Falkland Islands. I wonder if they get tired of sheep jokes, too?) Still, it’s our world record. Back in the 1980s, there was approximately 22 sheep for every person, but sheep numbers have declined and our population has increased, so we are down to a mere seven sheep per person these days. But when you consider Australia has a ratio of 5:1, NZ isn’t quite the sheep shagging nation it was back when woolly leg-warmers were the height of fashion.
I have also got variations of the following sheep queries:
- 1) Did you have a pet sheep growing up?
- 2) Was your first boyfriend a sheep?
- 3) Are there just sheep, like, everywhere?
- 4) Why do New Zealand men wear Velcro™ gloves while having sex?”
- 1) No, because I lived in the city.
- 2) No, again I lived in the city and I wasn’t into a long distance relationship.
- 3) Yes, the sheep are everywhere in the countryside….I mean, everywhere except cattle farms, deer farms, orchards, wineries, crop fields, forests, ski resorts or national parks.
- 4) So their girlfriends can’t run away. Fact.
9. “Do you have the internet in New Zealand yet? Hahaha.”
This is a very common question. And we do! However, it is comparatively expensive and really slow in some parts of the country. So actually good call on that one, bro. When I first arrived back from South Korea after living there for over a decade, I went over my father’s data limit in two days. Who has only 2GB of data for a month? And why does that 2G cost more than unlimited data did in Korea? This is one of life’s great mysteries.
10. “You’re from New Zealand? Wow — your English is, like, real good.”
“Thank you,” I say blushing modestly. “I’ve been practicing all my life.”