This December will be mark my 13th year of living in America. During those years I've been asked many questions about NZ, that have ranged from odd to really, really bizarre.
My inner child does have a slightly sarcastic side and I have allowed her free reign on occasion, when replying to some of these questions. So my IC is probably responsible for some of the misconceptions that still exist about NZ. Below are some of the questions, my IC response and The Truth (TT).
1 .. Do you have telephones in NZ?
IC.. 'Of course we do. We have one at the bottom of the North Island and one at the top of the South Island. When someone wants to call someone in the other island, they call the phone, someone answers and runs off and gets that person.'
TT.. The first telephone exchange was opened in 1881. Now days they have cell phones, Internet and so on. They're quite tech savvy down there. I was using my phone line to post to Usenet newsgroups way back in 1991. :-)
2 .. 'Do you have paved roads in NZ?'
IC.. 'No, we just have dirt tracks and we drive horses and carts'
TT .. Yes, they have paved roads in NZ .... and cars. :-) The price of petrol (gas) is also going sky high, just like here.
3 .. 'Do you speak English in NZ?'
I've lost count of the times I've been asked this question. I really have to clap my hand over my IC's mouth on this one. The classic was this conversation, that took place, in a store, shortly after I arrived in the US.
Clerk behind counter "I love your accent. Where are you from and how long have you been here?"
Me "Thank you. I'm from NZ and I've been here 6 months"
The clerk's reply then floored me. In a loud voice and speaking very slowly, she said "OH _ YOU _ SPEAK _ SUCH _ GOOD _ ENGLISH _ FOR _ ONLY _ BEING _ HERE _ THAT - LONG !!!!" Arghhhhhhh ...
TT .. NZ has three official languages. English, Maori and sign language. English, however, is the main language.
There have been dozens of others re housing, electricity, food and so on. However, the two most bizarre ones and their reasoning for asking that question, must be ...
2 .. 'Are all houses in NZ built on stilts?'
My IC was curious about this one, so remained silent while I asked why he wanted to know that. Apparently he had been looking at a globe and had seen NZ. He thought it was really tiny and it also looked very flat. So he thought that we probably built our houses on stilts so we would be okay when the tide came in. My IC really, really wanted to tell him that the tide problem was the reason that all Kiwis have webbed feet.
TT ... While you could drop NZ into the State of Texas and lose it, it is not flat, houses are not normally built on stilts and the tide just washes up the beaches ... just like here.
1 .. While on the subject of feet....
"Do New Zealanders have hairy feet and do you?"
Me and my IC .... "PARDON? WHAT?"
Admittedly, the woman who asked me this question, did not appear to be completely sober. Further questioning, on why she wanted to know about the state of Kiwi feet, revealed that she had recently seen 'Lord of The Rings'. She knew that it had been made in NZ and she didn't believe that the Orcs, Wizards, Ents or Elves really existed. However she knew that Dwarfs were real and she really thought Hobbits might be as well. So here she was, talking to a real, live Kiwi and I was short and stout and apparently looking rather Hobbit like, so she asked the question that had obviously been burning holes in her mind....
TT .. The feet of New Zealanders are no more hairy than the feet of people everywhere!
3 hours ago