On Tuesday night I met a cyberfriend in real life. We e-met a couple of years ago and have kept in fairly constant contact, but he lives in Australia and this is the first time he has travelled to New Zealand. It was really cool to hang out with him. It’s interesting being in the presence of someone you know so well but have never met.
It was interesting for another reason as well. I saw my country through the eyes of someone that has never seen it before. Australia is our close neighbour and is very similar in lots of ways, but very different in others. We have a friendly rivalry in the ‘I-can-say-what-I-like-about-them-but-if-you-do-I’ll-hit-you’ kind of way. Like with a sibling.
There were three things that struck my Aussie friend as different about us Kiwis. The first was how friendly we are to strangers. He was stunned by the number of people that strike up conversation over absolutely nothing with people they see at the bus stop, or in shops, or even just on the street. Anywhere at all really. It wasn’t something that occurred to me. That’s just how it is. And I’m glad.
The second thing was the number of luxury cars, another thing that I just take for granted. I have several friends that drive them. Ferraris and Lambourghinis are nothing out of the ordinary. People don’t usually own them of course, but they’re certainly not uncommon. I have since learned that Auckland one of the highest rates of Ferraris per capita in the world.
The last thing (and the one I am most proud of) is that we are proud to be New Zealanders. He noticed that lots of people wear t-shirts carrying NZ slogans and imagery. And it’s true. We have a great degree of national pride. And hell – that’s no surprise!
If you’ve ever been to New Zealand, you’ll understand why.