New Zealand

God's own quarter-acre pavlova paradise.

It's home -- it's lovely and green. We have flightless birds called kiwis and we have more sheep than people. Being named after flightless birds, we seem to have an inability to run airline companies (or an airforce). I don't think we're alone with AirlineTrouble.

Also home to the KiwiFruit? -- though originally imported as a ChineseGooseberry?, we've substantially improved on it. And nobody else can grow them better. Just look out for the Zespri brand. :-)

Also home of the LordOfTheRings movies, FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (LordOfTheRingsPartOne), THE TWO TOWERS (LordOfTheRingsPartTwo) and RETURN OF THE KING.

I dont think this entirely sums up our country though: we are more free than the rest of the world, no-one brought prejudices with them when they arrived, and our environment hasn't been over-developed like the rest of the western world.

You're saying there's no prejudice? Never heard of such a place. Regardez vous:

"more free" is more conceivable. In what ways?

[While "no one" is a pretty big exaggeration, there does seem to be less prejudice and discrimination here than in the U.S. Maori culture is an element of pride for Kiwis (both pakeha and Maori), and most official signs and documents are in both English and Maori (except, apparently, in downtown Christchurch, where the second language seems to be Japanese ;)). Knowing Maori is a status symbol, and Maori studies classes are quite popular, particularly with American Exchange Students.

It's true that unemployment and imprisonment rates are higher among Maori than pakeha, but at least that is part of the national dialogue (i.e. it's visible in the newspapers and government). Contrast that with the U.S, where the black/white income gap is continuously swept under the table and doesn't even register on the radar screen. There's also a lively debate about the merits of various affirmative-action programs for Maoris.

I've heard this is a recent development though, and even 10 years ago, Maori were far more stigmatized and less visible.

I haven't noticed the "more free" aspect, though, except for all the benefits that come about from living in a small country. New Zealanders are free to leave doors unlocked, pick up hitchhikers, and trust the police, something that not all Americans can do. But in terms of legal freedoms, I don't know of any that we don't have in the U.S.

-- JonathanTang]

I spent 14+ years in New Zealand and while it's true that the Maori language is everywhere -- signs, official government forms, TV programs, etc. -- I can recall of only one instance of hearing Maori spoken in an everyday, casual conversation. Even Maoris don't speak Maori; they speak English. (The one instance was when I was in a lift with a woman who worked on the floor above me, and a friend of hers. I can only describe her as a Maori bigot who used every opportunity to remind us that Maaori (her spelling) were the TangataWhenua? (original people) and somehow had more rights than everybody else, particularly us immigrants.) I don't really see the Maori language as a status symbol, except possibly for civil servants with a terminal case of political correctness or the belligerent dole bludgers who rationalise their lack of contribution to society by playing victim. -- AnonymousDonor

I've heard it's changing recently, though you're right I don't hear much Maori being spoken in everyday conversation. My pakeha friend recently said "I need to learn Maori", and a bunch of her friends agreed with her, which then got into a discussion about how the country will be bilingual within the next generation. -- JonathanTang


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