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Maori Performers Sing and Dance During Waitangi Day | © ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock
Maori Performers Sing and Dance During Waitangi Day | © ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock
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9 Things You Should Never Say to a New Zealander

Picture of Joe Coates
Updated: 5 April 2018
New Zealanders are famous around the world for being some of the most happy, carefree people on the planet. They’re literally renowned for being as affable a bunch of humans as you could hope to meet. With this in mind though there are a few things that might get under a Kiwi’s skin. Here is our guide on how not to inadvertently tick them off.

Firstly, there isn’t just one thing that you can say to a proud New Zealander that’ll act like a red cloth in front of a bull. There are a few different things that you should never say, unless you foolishly want to start your standard friendly Kiwi to frothing at the mouth.

“New Zealand is just that Australian island.”

Let’s just get this one out the way first. You can’t be going around and saying things like that. Period. It’d be like saying, “Oh, Canada is just that bit above America,” or something along those lines. Have some tact, and if you’re devoid of tact then have some common sense, otherwise you sort of deserve the inevitable punch in the ear-hole.

“Whereabouts in Australia are you from?”

The best tip we can give you here is that if you’re not sure whether the person you’re talking to is from New Zealand or Australia then don’t guess. Ask. Australians are just as proud as Kiwis and don’t take kindly to being incorrectly labelled. Try not to make this faux-pas in a pub after about 10 pm, if you want our advice.

“Stick another shrimp on the barbie, mate!”

Shrimp
Prawns… not shrimp | © jayneandd / Flickr

No. Just no. They’re called prawns anyway. It’s just that old thing about a joke being funny once — maybe twice — and then it getting old quicker than a politician makes a promise on election day. Kiwis here this all the time, and what makes it particularly grating is that it’s the Aussies who are supposed to have a penchant for chucking their prawns on the barbie.

“Football is so much better than rugby.”

This may or may not be the case, but if you’re in New Zealand then it’s safe to assume that football is not better than rugby. Not even close. It’d be like going into a church in Mexico and saying that Scientology is way better than Christianity. No sane person would do it. The fact is that New Zealand is home to the most successful sports franchise in history — the All Blacks — and you can’t really argue with that.

“It must just be like Lord of the Rings.”

This is very much along the same lines as the aforementioned shrimp on the barbie scenario. It’s an old joke by this time. As proud as New Zealand is as a country that one of their homegrown sons — Sir Peter Jackson — managed to make such a massively popular and successful film (Return of the King is tied for the most Oscars ever won by a single movie) they also aren’t that keen when they’re basically told that they’re hobbits.

“Mince and cheese pies are gross.”

Whatever your view is about the humble, but beloved, mince and cheese pie it is just better to assume that when it comes to blasé remarks about whether they taste good or not, they are off limits . You wouldn’t go into a sushi restaurant in Japan and tell the sushi master that you’d rather be stuck in an elevator with Kim Kardashian for five hours than eat another piece of uncooked octopus, would you? Of course not. Besides hurting his feelings, he just wouldn’t be able to understand, on the most fundamental level, why you didn’t think his raw octopus was delicious. That’s the same as Kiwis and pies. They won’t be cross at you, they just won’t understand and, potentially, might think you’re slightly deranged.

“Russell Crowe is my favourite Australian actor.”

Yes, the man lives in Australia now, but there can be no denying that he was born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand. A New Zealander will surmise that you’re either being factitious, or you’re simply an idiot and you will be free to reap the rewards of what they decide to do next.

Russ
Kiwi-born Crowe | © Dan Marsh / Flickr

“How many sheep have you shagged?”

Ah, the age old barb. This is a classic line which Kiwis hear from many Australians during sporting contests — and after about 17 pints of beer. The Welsh know pain of this line too. All that can be said is, if you decide to bust this out, then you had better be able to run fast — at least faster than a brick or jandal is able to be thrown. There used to be 20 sheep to every person in New Zealand, but this has since fallen to a mere seven to one. In comparison, Australia has three sheep to every person, whilst Wales has a mere four. Please note that knowing these statistics will not spare you from your fate if you let this slip to a New Zealander at closing time.

“Well, New Zealand is part of the Commonwealth so Britain technically owns you.”

Unsurprisingly, this is seen as very bad form. Not so much as it was though, as New Zealanders often feel quite stoked that their descendants were either kicked out of Britain or left of their own volition and ended up in this Pacific paradise. They might shake their heads and call any Brit who says this to them a “Pom,” which means Prisoner of Mother England.

Ali Williams
A happy Kiwi, Ali Williams | © Geoff Trotter / Flickr