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12 March 2012


There are lots of posts swirling around in my head..."so many posts, so little time."  I need to write some reflections on the NZ Rural GP Network conference in Queenstown, I need to post some photos, I need to post some reflections on Lent and the NZ Prayer Book as well as my very odd experience at the local "Anglican" church.  But first, I want to write about some "Kiwiana". Kiwiana is sort of like "Americana." Basically, it is a list of New Zealand ("Kiwi") quirks or "isms."

This list isn't categorised in any particular way.  Here goes:

1.  Māori (pronounced sort of like "Mow-ree" but with the "ow" elongated and the "r" rolled a bit)--the people who have been in New Zealand the longest.  The Māori people called the islands which are now known as "New Zealand" Aotearoa, which is translated "land of the long white cloud."'s uncertain whether that refers to the weather, or some other feature.  Some important things about the Māori include the fact that the British Crown entered into a treaty with them in 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi.  This treaty is taken very seriously today.  There are disparities in health, socioeconomic status and education between Māori people and people of European descent.  This is not subject to debate.  Also not subject to debate is the fact that all must be done to alleviate these disparities.  It's a refreshing concept, in a way, given that these disparities seem to exist EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD where European people have invaded land that was inhabited by various indigenous, dark skinned people.  

2.  Koha--I ran across this word when I went to the Fun Run at the Queenstown conference.  The information said "entry by koha."  I had no idea what that meant but eventually, given the fact that it was a benefit for a trust for rural medical education (more on that another time) and there was never an amount specified, I began to suspect that MAYBE it was a Māori term that meant "donation."  It turns out I was correct.  There was a bucket at the starting line and luckily, I'd brought a few bills along to put into it.  Officially, "koha" refers to the Māori custom of gift giving, particularly, the giving of gifts by guests to their hosts.  It has now made its way into common useage to refer to free-will donations.

3.  All Blacks--The New Zealand National rugby team.  Rugby is almost a religion here, much like football is in the US.

4.  Tall Blacks--Nickname of the New Zealand National Basketball team.  The term is a derivation of the All Blacks combined, cleverly, with the colloquial name of an espresso drink (see below).

5.  New Zealand espresso drinks--Espresso is becoming quite a cultural phenomenon in New Zealand, rapidly replacing boring English Tea as the beverage of choice.  The whole line of barista drinks is available at any cafe but a few have different names:
  • Short black--single shot of pure, unadulterated espresso
  • Long (or Tall) black--like an "Americano", espresso with steaming hot water added
  • Flat White--this is the hardest to describe.  It's sort of like a latte, with less milk and like a cappuccino with less foam.  Basically, it's a shot of two of espresso with a thin layer of "textured" (steamed) milk with a smooth, shiny, flat surface.  A paricularly artistic barista might swirl the espresso into the milk.  It's pure, creamy, coffee goodness.
6.  Kūmara--a small sweet potato that grows in New Zealand.  Actually kūmara is the Māori term for sweet potato but it refers particularly to the type that grow here.  It's very popular and often used in place of potatoes, as fries or baked as a side dish. 

7.  Bluff Oysters--a particular type of oysters which are found principally in Chile and off the southern coast of New Zealand, near a town called Bluff.  (Guess where they get their name?) I'm told they are very sweet and not at all like the sort of bitter, dirty tasting oysters from the Chesapeake Bay.  There, I've said it, I really never did like them all that much.  I tried some Bluff oysters the other day, but they were battered and fried and I couldn't really tell how good they were, although they were pretty tasty, nonetheless.  

8.  Steamed pudding--a cake-like dessert made from flour, eggs, etc and either steamed or baked (sort of like plum pudding).  It can be served with icecream or custard for "pudding," which is a British term for "dessert."

9.  Hokey Pokey--while we're on the subject of dessert, this is flavour of icecream that I have never heard of anywhere else.  It is vanilla icecream with bits of honeycomb toffee.  Much to my dismay, the honeycomb is not  REAL honeycomb, but toffee which is frothed and then aerated so that when it hardens it LOOKS like honeycomb and tastes just as sweet .  In any case, it is quite lovely.  Cadbury (which has a factory in NZ) makes a version with chocolate icecream mixed with "hokey pokey."  For those inclined to try it at home, here is a recipe. 

So that's all, folks.  It's past my bedtime.  

So, until I can get some of my own photos loaded, here is a stock photo of Queenstown, as seen from the Skyline Gondola.

Cheers, folks!


RuthAnn said...

So very interesting! I am looking forward to your blog on the NZ Prayer book and Lent.

Bill said...

I like the concept of Koha, and any society that not only tolerates the expression of the nature culture it displaced, but embraces its terminology. It implies some very good things about that society.

You don't like Chesapeake Bay oysters? You introduced me to them! Well, I guess I can admit now that I wasn't a huge fan of them either.

I'm amazed you're finding the time to write these blogs ... but I'm really enjoying reading them!

Rebecca said...

@Bill...yes, my deep dark secret. I think I sort of like them raw on the half-shell but I never really liked them cooked, although I seriously tried to. It's sort of required if you grow up in MD. I didn't realise it until someone this past weekend asked me if I liked oysters. Maybe it's just in comparison to mussels (which I LOVE) but I thought for a moment and said, "well, no, not really." That's when they replied with the description of the Bluff Oysters as being much better than other oysters.
@Ruth Ann I don't know what I'm going to say, yet, but the prayer book is wonderful the way it incorporates the Maori translations of prayers, among other things.