Thursday, April 3, 2008

New Zealand: Now you know! Part II

Why, hello again, my loyal readers! Today we continue with the second segment of our educational series, "Getting to Know New Zealand."

Q: Do they speak English in New Zealand?
A: Yes, English is the predominant language. (I am shocked and appalled that I have had to answer this question on more than one occasion, but I am here to educate. Not to judge.) Right now I can't tell the difference between an NZ accent and an Australian accent, but I am assured I will learn in no time. The Maori language is also an official language of New Zealand.

Q: What is "Maori?"
A: The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. From what I understand they basically got screwed for years by the New Zealand government (hard to imagine, huh?) but in recent years there has been more of a push to preserve Maori culture. I saw a lot of Maori in Auckland but don't remember seeing any on the South Island.

Maybe you saw the move "Whale Rider" a couple of years ago? The family in that movie was Maori. (Sweet movie by the way. Rent it with the kids, or grandma. Fun for the whole family!) There is another movie about the Maori that got quite a bit of acclaim in the U.S. a few years ago called "Once We Were Warriors." I have not yet seen it but understand it is considerably less grandma-friendly. Depending on your grandma, of course.

Q: How many people are in New Zealand?
A: New Zealand has a little more than 4 million people. (By contrast, metro Atlanta has a little more than 5 million.) 3 million live on the North Island, so the South Island (where we will be) is much more rural and remote.

Q: How big is New Zealand?
A: I have zero sense of scope, but Google tells me it's about the size of Colorado. I'm guessing that includes both islands.

Q: Didn't they film the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy in New Zealand?
A. Yep.

Q: Did they film "Lord of the Rings" near your town?
A: Some of the filming was done on a few hours' drive from Dunedin, closer to the southwestern part of the South Island. I think some of it was filmed in the North Island, but I'm not sure of all the locations. They have "Lord of the Rings" tours, but even Chris and I aren't dorky enough to sign up for something like that. I fell asleep during the first movie and did not get around to seeing the second two.

Q: What is a kiwi?
A: A kiwi is a flightless bird native to New Zealand. People from New Zealand also call themselves "Kiwis" as a synonym for "New Zealander." The brown fuzzy fruit Americans call "kiwi" is, in fact, native to New Zealand. From what I understand they call it kiwifruit.

Q: I guess you'll get to see kangaroos, huh?
A: No, that's Australia. If there are kangaroos in New Zealand, I'm guessing they are in zoos. New Zealand is known more for sea animals than land mammals -- whales, seals, penguins, dolphins. There is a wild penguin colony just outside of our town.

Q: No way!
A: Seriously. Chris took this picture when he was at the beach north of Dunedin about a month ago:

Believe it or not, dear readers, there is still more ground to cover! Stay tuned for Part III!

(Thanks to the folks at Backpack New Zealand for use of the lovely map above.)

No comments: