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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

the stupid kiwi

The Kiwi is often called the stupidest and most pointless bird of all. It can’t fly because of its massive body weight, its legs are tiny and incapable of jabbing tiny worms, its fur is dull brown, it’s almost as slow as a turtle, and besides being cute and fluffy, its uses are ridiculously meager and it barely qualifies as a bird. If you observe the facial characteristics of a typical New Zealander Kiwi, their thin lips, big eyes, and dainty noses resemble that of the kiwi bird’s. On a recent trip to America, a Czech born American-citizen taxi driver who is an acquaintance of my father’s, felt free enough to bestow upon me his impression of New Zealand, Kiwis, and overall life philosophies. He particularly seemed to think that the description of the Kiwi bird is an accurate description of the typical Kiwi human. “They’re colourless! The whole place is depressing. Me and Sasha (his wife) went down there last Christmas and we were completely disappointed. Nobody has any motivation for anything, people don’t discuss politics nor seem to be concerned about world affairs, the women are fat, the men are average looking, and they’re an altogether bland nation. I don‘t know how people can live like that, not striving for anything.” At the time I was partial towards New Zealand, Wellington in particular, after having undergone a trialsome year of a bad flatting experience, and being monetarily abused at no payback after having lent a certain unnamed person a large sum of money, the cold weather and windy season also affecting my affection for the sun’s glow. I missed my partner, who stayed in Wellington whilst I visited America, indescribably, but New Zealand herself I was not too fond of last season. I didn’t respond much to his comment albeit the usual polite smile and reassuring cough to show him that I was paying attention. When asked what I thought about New Zealand and her people, I simply replied, “You can find both the positive and negative anywhere”, a fairly diplomatic and safe response to a potential heated debate. However this comment has remained in my mind since that October of 2005,something about its brash nature and one-sidedness has continued to bother me, and I have been thinking about all of New Zealand’s overall impression upon me ever since.
The average Kiwi-bred female (human being), age 25-34, is a size 14. Supermodels are usually sizes 0-2, and most TV personalities worldwide are sizes 5-9, to give you a bit of perspective. I am not listing the average size for youths, teens, and younger adults because being in their prime, most are by global standards, beautiful and physically fit (even with the increasing worldwide obesity rate). This statistic is rather surprising considering how much outdoor activity the vast New Zealand landscape offers. Kayaking, horse-back riding, trail-wandering, hiking, back-packing, camping, fishing, sheep-shearing, farming, cow milking, bungee-jumping, mud wrestling, white water rafting, surfing, sky-diving, parachuting, and parasailing are just some of the diverse experiences anyone can participate in whilst living in the land which gave home to the grand visual epic J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings. From peace-promoting, melancholy jazz-pop Brooke Frazer’s music video “without you”, to Scribe’s get-your-butt-up-and-dance hip-hop beats, to Joss Stone’s deep soulfully rich voice, to innocently mysterious high-class actress Naomi Watts, to GNS, (Geological Nuclear Survey), science center responsible for nearly half of current researching findings in fields of astronomy, geology and geophysics, to the acclaimed Wellingtonian director Peter Jackson himself, New Zealand is an eclectic blend of contradictions: mountain-loving, coffee-drinking, elitist and educated, vegan nature-loving. All the famous females previously listed by the way, are in ranges of sizes 4 -14. If you add the percentage of fan support for J. Lo’s bootay to the size 14 statistic for Kiwi’s, and add infamous supermodel Kate Moss’s recent hardship in finding a job, it would be correct to state that in modern times, bigger is better. Perhaps the average Kiwi is too busy with things like farming the entire world’s supply of the kiwi fruit, and winning 10 Olympic titles (thus far for 2006), to worry about silly pre-occupations with stereotype.
To say that New Zealand citizens haven’t made their mark on the world is a horribly un-informed and ignorant statement. Alan MacDiarmid, a Kiwi, was a former janitor at residential hostel Weir House before eventually winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2002 for discovering Chemical Relativistic Patrionics. Alexander Malahoff, CEO of GNS in Taupo, is Wellington born and bred. Knowing him on a personal level as a family friend and research collaborator of my father’s, Dr. Malahoff and his wife Beverly are two of the most generous, wonderful and incredibly knowledgeable people you will ever have the pleasure of knowing. I love how the New Zealander, or shall I say Kiwi attitude toward life is so casual, laid-back, care-free, and overall, happy. Men and women are not afraid to express their inner feelings to each other in an open fashion, insults that many countries would find highly offensive, are just part of the friendly banter in which friends, and partners engage in. To clarify, in New Zealand, the words husband and wife are less used than partner. This adds to the togetherness aura exhibited in many local pubs. People share a lot with each other, without having to use a lot of unnecessary polite formalities. Yet the Kiwi peoples are not without class. Fly on any Air New Zealand flight and you will be presented with a basketful of yummy mints, warm face towels, and a bouquet of pretty, well-mannered, flight stewardesses. In personal relationships, business dealings, and all other ventures which life gives us paths to walk into, Kiwis are open-minded, stress-free, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Although their enthusiasm for competition is at a major lack in comparison to striving to be #1 I- have- to -be -better -than- you-and-achieve-as-much-as-I-can American mentality, (my financial blunder previously mentioned in this article, just so you all know, was not caused by a Kiwi or Kiwi-born, and in fact when aware of me and my partner‘s hardships many Kiwi-bred and borns were happy to jumpto the rescue or at least emphathized), Kiwis seem to have an innate natural “common” sense that life is more than the sum of achievements, successes and material items we come into play with. Whereas manipulation, deceit, betrayal, mind games, social barriers and deceit are the norm in other economically sound parts of the world, socialist New Zealand does not share the same I-can’t-let-you-know-the-real-me-because-you-might-end-up-killing-me mentality. And, although their philosophy on life is more teamwork than me vs. you, this in no way undermines their overall seek of self-improvement and yardstick measurable achievement. Talk to any Kiwi, anywhere, and I guarantee that amidst the “eh’s” and “sweet as” and my father’s favourite kiwi accented “lovely” and “seven“, used in frequent conversation, you will definitely find expertise in a wide array of fields ranging from the history of rugby to the history of the squash (vegetable, not sport), to a concrete and graphic explanation of the history of Marxism. Being as the Kiwi bird has survived over 100 generations, much longer than such natural “useful” fighter birds , and of course the most ancient ancestor of birds, all wise, fascinating, extinction still dubbed a mystery by the academies of science, the Pterodactyl; it all adds up to the inner magic which all Kiwis (birds and homo sapiens) seem to possess at birth. Take the Kiwi bird’s mysterious longevity of life, and its overwhelming ability to survive throughout generations of ice ages and volcano eruptions and you have a real enigma. The Kiwi bird may be flightless, and the Kiwi population may be deemed by many as boring, and lacking motivation, but still the Kiwi bird lives on today and remains a constant reminder of how silly it is to underestimate, anything; particularly all things New Zealandish. Take that Mr. Unnamed Taxi Driver!

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