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The Hitchhiker's Guide To New Zealand

And the Rabbi spake:

Soc.Culture.New-Zealand FAQ file

by Rabbi Bajzheet and The Jumping Mollusc of The Burning Giraffe

Date: Sort of late December 1991

DISCLAIMER: These are our views. These are not the views of our government, parents, bank managers, giraffe, probation officers or university and we have no employers. We don't care. Okay, here it is - the highly unofficial scnz faq file. Comments are most welcome, mail us at and include lots of yummy food parcels.


New Zealand is situated the same distance eastwards from Australia as London is to Moscow. So if anybody tells you it's right next to Australia, tell them to go away.

It is bigger than Connecticut, but smaller than Canada.

There are two main islands - The North Island and The South Island. There is also about a zillion other islands dotted around and about, none of which need concern you.

The South Island is slightly bigger than the North Island, but South Islanders that refer to themselves as "Mainlanders" are *&^%$#.

The largest city in New Zealand is Auckland, which has a population of approximately 1,200,000 people, many of whom own Holdens (qv).

The capital is Wellington; which is really windy.

The fourth largest New Zealand city is called Bondi, a suburb of Sydney. It has more New Zealanders in it than Hamilton (qv).

Lake Taupo, situated in the centre of the North Island, is very big, but smaller than Texas, and has less guns but more trout.

The main thing you need know when traveling in New Zealand is:

  • North Island: beaches
  • South Island: mountains
  • ...and don't go to Dannevirke, you'll hate it.

    If you're a Crowded House or Split Enz fan, a pilgrimage to Te Awamutu is essential.

    Hamilton is a strange place - very foggy in winter, and not in Canada (or Connecticut). If you are hitch hiking in the area and somebody offers you a lift "as far as Hamilton", you can guarantee you will end up walking from one side of town to the other, which will a) take about two hours and b) not endear you to any part of the stinky, boring, flat, green Waikato plains.


    Many years ago a bloke called Maui went fishing with his brothers, using his grandmother's jawbone as a fish hook (apparently his grandmother's jaw fell off through overuse, an object lesson in verbosity). He caught a big fish and hauled it to the surface. It was a big fish (man). Like, really really big. About as big as the North Island. In fact, if the truth be told, it *was* the North Island. But that's okay, because Maui's canoe was pretty large as well, as big as The South Island. (get the picture?)

    Maui's brothers, seeing the size of the fish, became jealous and laid into it with their meres and axes and stuff, thus conveniently terraforming it into a fairly rugged bit of heavily forested fish (or land, as geologists prefer to call it).

    A bit after that, in a huge migration from Hawaiiki (probably no relation), the Maori people arrived in this new land of Aotearoa, The Land of The Long White Cloud.

    After spending about 1000 years not inventing the internal combustion engine, nuclear weapons, those horrible guttering systems which get clogged up with leaves and twigs and dead sparrows and need to be cleaned out every six months, or Unix, the country was colonised (invaded) by Europeans, bringing blankets, muskets, whaling ships, God, syphilis, tuberculosis and guttering systems.

    The Maoris, overwhelmed by the European's staggering generosity, occasionally went berko and killed some settlers, but to no avail. By 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi - popularly advertised as New Zealand's founding document - was signed by the Governor of New Zealand (representing Queen Vicky of England) and various Maori chiefs, representing each tribe.

    After another thirty years of bloodshed, things began to settle down a little bit and the real business of farming sheep and building towns like Bulls could begin in earnest.

    Bulls was built. It still exists today. Aaaaaargh.

    The capital was moved from Russell to Auckland to Wellington to London to Washington. There was speculation during the 1940 s that the new capital might be Berlin or Tokyo, but such rumours were unfounded in the cold impartial light of military superiority and nuclear weapons.

    World War One came, and with it came the battle of Gallipoli, in which heaps of Kiwis and Aussies got dropped on the wrong beach by a Pommie Bastard who was probably marinating his brain in gin at the time. A battle that should have lasted about twelve hours lasted six months, and cost Gunner Spinley (Mollusc's grandad) his face, which stopped a Turkish bullet.

    World War Two rolled around, and thousands more Kiwis died displaying the refreshing lack of self-preservation that Allied High Command was so enarmoured with.

    The score stands at New Zealand two, Germany nil.

    Nuclear ships stopped coming in 1984 with the election of The First Labour Government in a Very Long Time. America loves us slightly less than it did before.

    The French blew up a Greenpeace ship, The Rainbow Warrior, in Auckland in 1985. We like the French slightly less than we did before. However, due to the fact that we export dairy products and beef and lamb to France, we don't dislike them enough to really do anything about it.

    We won the Rugby World Cup in 1987 and nobody really cares, except Westies (qv) and their fathers.

    We had a sesquicentennial in 1990 (150th anniversary - we note with interest that the word did not exist prior to 1990). It was crap and lost lots of money.


    There are three main political parties in New Zealand: National, Labour and McGillicuddy Serious.

    National: Currently the government. A bunch of right wing dickheads, intent of reducing inflation to 0-2% per annum by taking away everybody's money until nobody can afford anything, so prices don't go up. Simple? Rumour has it, so too is the Minister of Finance.

    Labour: The Opposition. A bunch of right wing dickheads, who used to be a bunch of left wing dickheads until 1984 when, rumour has it, their souls were all sold to the Business Round Table (Mafia). We don't believe this, no no no, not at all. But it's worth repeating.

    McGilicuddy Serious: Scottish Monarchist Regressionists, intent in re-establishing the Jacobite line to supreme executive office, then disassembling all the trappings of modern technology (internal combustion engines, guttering systems, Unix, etc) and living a life of pastoral, clan-oriented bliss. Due to growing popular disillusionment with both National and Labour, an outside favourite to win the 1993 general election.

    It is interesting to note that New Zealand has no formal constitution and only one house of Parliament. So, if The McGillicuddy Serious Party is elected, it can do all this quite legally.


    Buzzy Bees: A quintessential piece of Kiwiana. It is a small wooden bee that toddlers can drag around on a piece of string. It has wings that rotate (backwards) and it makes a weird clicking sound. They are no longer made, much to the author 's remorse.

    The Edmond's Cook Book: More copies of this book have been sold in New Zealand than any other book (ever). Produced by Edmonds, makers of fine Baking Powder, Cake Mix and Bournville Cocoa. There are hundreds of recipes, many incorporating Edmond's "Sure to Rise" Baking Powder, Edmond's Cake Mix, and Bournville Cocoa.

    Holdens: Holden is an Australian car manufacturer, a subsidiary of General Motors. Most Australisians either don't know this, or don't care. The classic New Zealand car is a very old grey Holden station wagon, with shot suspension and dodgy brakes. It is driven by Westies (qv). They are popular because they are cheap (because they are crap) and have big engines, which may or may not be V8s. We don't know, nor care.

    Swannies: Woolen bush shirts and jackets made by Swanndri NZ Ltd. Very waterproof, scratchy, rugged, warm and make you look like a mass murderer when hitch hiking.

    Pavlova: 3 egg whites               1 teaspoon vinegar
            3 tablespoons cold water   1 teaspoon vanilla essence
            1 cup castor sugar         3 teaspoons cornflour
    Beat egg whites until stiff, add cold water and beat again.  Add
    castor sugar gradually while still beating.  Slow beater and add
    vinegar, vanilla and cornflour.  Place of greased paper on greased
    tray and bake at 150 degrees C (300 F) for 45 minutes, then leave to
    cool in the oven.
    (Courtesy of The Edmond's Cookbook (naturally)).

    This recipie never works, nor does any other recipie for pav, except this one:

            $15                        Bicycle
            Carrier bag                
    Ride bicycle down to supermarket, purchase pavlova with $15, place in
    carrier bag.  Ride home.  Remove pavlova from carrier bag, place in
    cold oven.  When guests arrive, remove from oven and say "Look at this
    pav I just made!"

    Any Australians, South Africans, Yugoslavians or Tibetans who tell you that the pav was invented in their country are liars and are not to be believed.

    Pies: North Americans may be unfamiliar with this phenomenon. A pie is a savoury hors d'oeuvres pastry thing, but three times the size, filled with meat (from whence we can only guess) and with a lid on.

    There are some quite nice pies in Onehunga (south Auckland). However, it should be noted that pies can never be rated at anything above "good". Also, pie criticism is one of the most subjective things imaginable.

    Westies: Westies are youths who wear black jeans, basketball boots, black jerseys and black tee shirts. They have long hair at the back, short hair at the front. They listen to far too much AC/DC, Midnight Oil and U2 for their own good. They drive Holdens, and are typically called Wayne or Trev. They can be distinguished from Goths in that they usually have axle grease all over their hands, jerseys, etc and don't like The Sisters of Mercy and haven't heard of Bauhaus. Also, they usually have suntans and have no unwarranted suicidal tendencies. They play rugby league and drink Rheineck (beer coloured piss-water). The are singularly stupid, but are common all over New Zealand, especially in the small towns. The original Westies are from, as far as we can work out, West Auckland - Henderson, Te Atatu, etc. The American equivalent would be Bruce Springsteen the Panelbeater.

    His Majesty's Carpark, Auckland: Used to be His Majesty's Theatre, now a carpark. Used to be a cultural icon, now a carpark. Cars park there. Not bicycles, or theatre goers (obviously). Some Holdens may be found there.

    Finally, a joke:

    Why did the chicken receive the Victoria Cross?

    For valour.

    P.S. Careful readers will note there are no questions in this FAQ file.


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