Instant Kiwi: New Zealand in a Nutshell

One of the best parts of expat life is making new friends and finding new family from around the world. But sometimes it’s hard to explain things that are kiwi-as to your new loved ones. This book might sort that out.


Instant Kiwi 300dpiSo what does it mean to call yourself a Kiwi?

And what is it about living in New Zealand and being New Zealanders that is just so bloody cool?

Over the last hundred years or so, our charms have gradually been discovered by the rest of the world, and now record numbers of curious tourists are coming to this clutch of little islands deep in the South Pacific. Why is that? Well, we’ve developed a reputation, you see, for being friendly, laid-back and welcoming – as well as for punching well above our weight in an impressive range of enterprise: adventurous, military, scientific, sporting, and creative. Just quietly, we’ve got a lot to be proud of.

Instant Kiwi offers a compact view of New Zealand life and history that isn’t available in standard school textbooks, tourist brochures or immigration documents. In a quirky and affectionate tone, it answers many key questions:

What are the perks of being a Kiwi?
Why is the kiwi our cultural identity tag?
What’s our obsession with black?
Who came up with the name ‘New Zealand’?
Which Kiwis have made life better for everybody?
Why can’t a kiwi fly?
Why would you say ‘Yeah, nah’?
What do you say, wear, do and pack in your luggage if you want to look like a Kiwi?

Also included in these course notes on Kiwi life are lessons on how to give a hongi, how to swear like a Kiwi, which names to drop in casual conversation, and the reasons we sometimes wear red socks. As you comb through the pages, you’ll decipher the code of Kiwispeak, discover how you can help the kiwi bird, find out what the record for oyster-eating is, and spot the faces on our bank notes.

There’s an iconic ABC, a kiwi glossary, a list of our local heroes, and an explanation of how the Māori language comes up with new words for new concepts. Throughout, there are website addresses that lead to more fascinating and useful information – even, for instance, where you can find a potted history of our long-running TV classic, Country Calendar.

And make sure you read up before you go to your next ‘sausage sizzle’ (page 66) – so you can feel ‘extra curly’ (page 64) and not like a ‘stunned mullet’ (page 66) at any stage of the conversation.

Fun and well researched, Instant Kiwi should be in every Kiwi home. Sweet as (and that’s page 67).

A few stats from the book:

1 billion – the approximate number of eggs laid by New Zealand’s 3.2 million hens each year

53,256,697 – the number of issues from New Zealand public libraries for the 2011/12 year

726,656 – pairs of gumboots imported into New Zealand in 2012

613,000 – gigalitres of rainfall on New Zealand in 2010, enough to fill Lake Taupo more than 10 times

26,770 – the number of registered charities in New Zealand

168 – the number of countries Kiwis can visit without requiring a passport

0 – number of foreign invasions of New Zealand

The Author

After graduating from Otago University, Canadian-born Rosemary Hepözden started travelling again, often finding herself in places so unfamiliar and uncomfortable that she longed for a pocket-sized guide that would take her well beyond the ‘must do’ attractions and recommended restaurants, and right to the core of what it meant to be local. She wanted, in other words, instant access to a culture. When she returned to New Zealand from a two-year teaching stint in Turkey, she saw the need for such a book from the other side, as she found herself decoding the Kiwi lifestyle for a somewhat startled Turkish man who had accompanied her home. As she lovingly interpreted all things Aotearoa, she remembered once again just how cool it is to call yourself a Kiwi. This book distils the essence of that experience.