It’s hard to find “comps” for New Zealand. It’s quite British in character, obviously; it’s a Commonwealth nation. Kiwis honor the Empire (and their place in it) in ways Australians, for example, never would. That said, there is a personal reserve and conservatism to Kiwis, and a cultural socialism, that struck me as downright Scandinavian. It’s not an austere place, but there is an awful lot of black worn on the streets of Auckland. Apparently dryers are considered an extravagance; everyone hangs their clothes on a line. The place runs like a clock, it’s clean, the out of doors is highly prized, and the sprawling social contract firmly in place. In short, it gives off the vibe that Sweden does, that Yeah, it’s expensive here, and isolated, but we’ve got it figured out. We don’t care about high taxes or a high cost of living; it’s what we pay to enable the society to take care of EVERYone. How others handle these ideological hot buttons isn’t of interest to us. Take the nuclear issue. New Zealanders don’t tolerate anything nuclear, and while N.Z. highly values the U.S. as an ally — there are churches and museums across the country dedicated to American sacrifices on their behalf, during WWII — none of the American fleet’s nuclear warships or subs are today allowed in any Kiwi ports. It’s not negotiable.
As you may have gathered from my earlier N.Z. posts, I was touring the country visiting various new clients of my media firm. One of those clients, Kauri Cliffs, is famous to Kiwis not merely as one of the world’s top 100 golf courses. It’s the place where celebrities are often falsely reported to have fallen to their deaths. While I was there, both Dwayne Johnson, “The Rock”, and Will Smith were reported to have died there. These are Internet hoaxes, and no one is quite sure why Kauri Cliffs has been singled out in this way.
The key to understanding a Kiwi and mimicking the accent is the hard e. A word like credit is pronounced creedit. Other vowels are disemboweled in a manner you’d recognize as more than vaguely Australian: The hard a sound replaced by the hard i, and the hard o sound replaced by ow, as in “Gow aheed, maike my die.” But it’s the hard e that sets Kiwis apart from their brothers across the Tasman Sea, or the Tazzie, as they call it.
There really are sheep everywhere in New Zealand, and the reason for that would appear to be the sheer amount of space Kiwis have available to them. If one had thousands and thousands of hectares in your charge, it’d be damned expensive to develop them. But one could make a bit of scratch if he or she were to simply turn a few thousand sheep loose on them. Flying around the country, it was astonishing to see so much land undeveloped below. Not just land but waterfront property. Maine, where I live, is pretty damned under-populated, and that goes for the coastline, too. New Zealand makes it look like the Jersey Shore.