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Kiwi Backgrounder

Kiwi’s are forging a unique culture.  The combined English/Maori heritage has produced a nation of bold adventurers with a can do attitude that exudes confidence.  The country is blessed with a pristine environment and lots of open space and enough robust ocean waters to stir the hearts of many a sailor.  Lots of pristine anchorages and remote islands are easily accessible. 

New Zealand is a land of farmers – most Kiwi’s are less that a generation away from their farms.  Kiwi’s pride themselves on their ability to fix anything – and they can.  The tradesmen are confident and sure of themselves and very good.   They have a saying - “number eight wire mate” – which refers to the early farmers ability to fix anything with a piece of fence wire.  Labour rates are low, compared to Canada, USA and Oz so New Zealand is a great place to get things fixed on your boat.

 Maori place names are used extensively and this challenges English visitors to pronounce and remember all those weird names.  Names like Whangarei, Matamata,  Tauranga, Purahotakaka.  Yikes!  Try and say those names quickly.

New Zealand is about the same physical size as Great Britain.  The population is four million and the country hosts two million visitors each year.   The climate is sub-tropical in the north and cools to temperate in the south.  The land is green and supports fast growing forests for harvesting.  The Islands are geologically active and volcanoes and earthquakes are often in the news.

The countries air is extremely clean compared to most northern hemisphere locations.  The clean air means very powerful sunshine that will burn unprotected skin in 15-20 minutes.  New Zealand has more skin cancer per capita than any other nation.  The clean air and sunshine is very good but can be dangerous.

The Maori first settled New Zealand in the early days of the second millennium.  The Maori name for the land - Aotearoa - translates to the  ‘Land of the Long White Cloud.   Compared to the tropics, where the Maori came from, the land is less tropical and has more clouds.  The Maori are Polynesians who likely reached New Zealand by ocean going canoe.  There are some legal issues between the Maori and the new comers, but both white and brown people warmly welcomed us to New Zealand and we encountered no hints of racial problems.

New Zealand’s distance from the hot spots of the world mean the cares and worries of other nations rarely effect the Kiwi's.   Nevertheless, New Zealand is the political leader of the south Pacific Island nations like the Cook Islands, Nuie and TongaNew Zealand provides the citizens of those nations with opportunities, advice and assistance.   Islanders from Nuie and the Cooks are welcomed in New Zealand as citizens.  The nation is the boundary between the south west Pacific Ocean and the eastern side of the Tasman Sea.

New Zealand is similar to Canada in many ways.  Geographically the country is quite like British Columbia

Politically both nations have close but indifferent allies nearby.  Just as Canada and US are close friends and are each others largest trading partners,  New Zealand and Australia also have a special relationship.  In both cases, the bigger nations have little understanding of their neighbors and inadvertently step on their toes.   Just as Canadian’s can do little but hold their nose when the US political/economic systems farts and Kiwi’s similarly suffer the indifferent happenstance of Australian political and economic affairs.  Canadians and Kiwi's both accrue the benefits of a big powerful neighbour nearby but whine about the disadvantages and clearly understand each others problem.

New Zealand was the setting for the classic mega movie - Lord of the Rings.  While exploring the country it is fun to see the similarities of the land and the movie.  Much of the interior of the south island is quite like the Hobbit's Shire.  The hobbit connection is reinforced because Kiwi's often dispense with shoes.  Bare feet are common in banks and restaurants and on the streets.  Many Kiwi kids can be seen going to school without shoes.  Not because they can't afford shoes, but because New Zealander's just don't give a damn whether you wear shoes or not.  They are proud that they can toss the footwear whenever they feel like going barefoot.  They like to be like hobbits.  I like that.

Kiwi laws severely limit liability actions.  The individual is largely responsible for his own safety and well being.  You won't be taking MacDonalds New Zealand to court because you burned your lip on a cup of hot coffee.  The limited liability helps action oriented adventure tourism.  Kiwis can organize just about any activity without fear of having your ass sued off if someone gets hurt.  I like that.

If you get hurt in a car accident, the New Zealand medical system will do what is necessary to get you back to health.  The medical system does not charge citizens or visitors for this.  Citizens and visitors can not sue the other party for medical damages.  Consequently the legal system is not burdened trying to sort out medical claims.  Both the insurance and legal businesses have less impact when compared to Cannada or the USA.